(I didn’t post anything last week because I was tired and grumpy and had nothing nice to say about anything. Feeling better this week because the sun came out.)
I’ve seen a lot of chatter on social media recently about greeting other cyclists. I like to wave and say “Good Morning” as I pass people – even when it’s afternoon – other cyclists, horse riders, joggers. This greeting gets quieter and the wave gets weaker the further I go but I always try to at least give a little wave from my handlebars. I get a variety of responses. Over the last couple of years these have been my observations:
Regional: I live in North Yorkshire but have family in South Oxfordshire. Before C19 closed the country I would take my bike south when I went to visit family. Apart from the roads down south being in a shocking state of disrepair I noticed that there are fewer cyclists and they wave back less.
Age: The older the cyclist the more likely they are to wave, unless they’re in a group. Older group riders completely ignore me 80% of the time and I think it’s really rude.
Gender: More women wave than men. I don’t know if this is because women are more likely to wave to other women and men to other men or if it’s just that women wave more. When groups of riders pass me, male groups generally wave less than female groups, in mixed groups the women in the group are more likely to wave than the men – but waving is catching and if there are women leading the group then there is a trickle effect and the male riders will follow the lead of the person in front.
Groups: Solo riders or pairs are more likely to wave than large groups. I wouldn’t expect every member of a group to wave, that would be weird. I have noticed, and really like, that one of the local cycling clubs does rides in quite large groups and the first and last person in the group will wave – don’t know if this is something they’ve discussed and agreed to do or if it’s just coincidence but I think it’s really nice.
Bike: If I am on my road bike I get more wave backs than on my e-bike. This has changed a little since lockdown and the gap has closed but it’s still quite noticeable. The nicer the road bike the less likely the rider will wave back to me on my e-bike. Mountain bikers look like the happiest people on earth and give the most enthusiastic greetings (probably because they’ve got soft suspension and comfy saddles).
Tandems: I’ve seen a few tandems in the last couple of months and these are people living their best lives. They always give an enthusiastic greeting.
Pro Cyclists and their fans: I live on the Tour de Yorkshire route and we were lucky enough to have the UCI World Championships local to us a couple of years ago. That year felt like the summer of cycling with a steady flow of people coming to the area to train and cycle tourism boosting the number of cyclists on the road. Pro cyclists in the zone aren’t going to wave back and I wouldn’t expect them to.
But, along with the pro’s the UCI did bring a lot of cyclists of various abilities from all over the world. I’m not sure if waving is a British thing but international cycling fans have a disappointing level of wave back, with the exception of men in Italian flag jerseys – they wave and shout in Italian, “Ciao, Bella” and “Bella bici” and “usa la pista ciclabile, stupido bint”.
So my conclusions, men are less likely to wave to me – especially if I’m on a grocery laden e-bike and wearing a floral dress. The fancier the bike the less fancy the greeting, and if you meet an old man with a bike at a junction be prepared to stop for a chat.
Notes on my nonsense:
“Older” is anybody ten plus years older than me, ie anybody over 55.
I consider a group to be more than three riders.
I haven’t included cycling in town – if there’s traffic and pedestrians and stuff going on you can’t be expected to wave to every cyclist you see.