Keep Smiling

I admit that sometimes I get frustrated with biking in the city. There are days that bring out my inner curmudgeon and I feel like this guy:

Attention Getting

But try not to put negativity out there. I don’t want a fight. So I try to stay positive. Sometimes I’m so positive it freaks the shit out of drivers. Like when a driver doesn’t see me and is about to left hook me…

Attention Getting

When I wave to them all smiley they really don’t know what to make of it. They just look surprised and let me pass safely.

Try it sometime. Or feel free to experiment with your own positive reinforcement approach.

Attention Getting

Well, maybe not this approach.

But you know what I mean. You’ll not only make others smile, you’ll cheer yourself up too.


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  • Garret May 18, 2012   Reply →

    I love this! I am the guy by the way flashing his man breast! Way to funny. lol

  • martha May 18, 2012   Reply →

    I use the nice approach too. Totally works!

  • Claire Petersky May 18, 2012   Reply →

    Especially in rural areas, where you tend to be brush-passed by rednecks, I find the smile-and-wave to be particularly effective. Just the wave makes a huge difference in the number of feet in passing you are given. Waving at people who are waiting to get on the road (and you’re “in their way”) and giving a smile, also turns their scowl often into a returned. This is especially true on the tandem. The smile-and-wave transforms us from one of those damn bikes to a nice middle-aged couple that maybe they’d like to have as neighbors. Anything that turns us from an object into human beings nearly always translates into greater courtesy and consideration.

  • Harry H May 18, 2012   Reply →

    OMG this is one of your best posts yet.

  • Ross W May 19, 2012   Reply →

    Last week I was out cycling and I saw a guy pull up at the side of a dual carriageway and get out of his car. I stopped and asked if he was OK. He’d run out of fuel. He proceeded to open his boot and take out a plastic petrol can.

    I had a bit of time so I offered to cycle off and get him some fuel, the nearest petrol station being about 2 miles away. He asked if I was sure and I said I’d be much quicker than him and could use the exercise. He passed me some cash and told me to fill the can.

    Queuing to buy petrol on a bike was a strange experience, but I got him his fuel and cycled back. I felt good. He felt good. And I’m sure a few people in the petrol queue got a smile out of it too. We don’t need to be the guy in the picture at the top. We can be drivers’ friends and it will help bring peace and understanding to our roads.

  • Vocus Dwabe May 19, 2012   Reply →

    If it does not lead to greater public civility, cycling is valueless. Whatever the provocation, it behoves us to be faultlessly courteous and considerate of other road-users at all times. In my experience, cyclists who spend their lives taking offence at the behaviour of motorists and pedestrians – a common breed on the streets of London – will be just as censorious of their fellow-cyclists: for example, bullying women riders who’ve stopped short of traffic lights into creeping forward on the inside so that they can later be squashed against railings by a left-turning heavy truck. If the Saudi Public Morality Police rode bicycles they would behave in a very similar manner. Their self-righteousness fairly glows from inside their horrible yellow jackets.

    Bikeyface, your drawings are really rather good (English for “brilliant”) and we all await you bringing them out in book form. Your style reminded me of someone, and I didn’t know who it was until I remembered the late Bernard Kliban; he of the strange enigmatic cats. As an artist, that’s good company to be in.

  • You are, Bikeface, right as ever.

    I am probably rather like number one (albeit I don’t yet have a helmet camera). But I do try to stay positive about my fellow road users.

    I had, as it happens, just posted to my own blog before I saw this a piece ( about trying not to see other road-users as members of a group but as individuals.

    I suppose that’s all part of the same positivity effort.

    Invisible Visible Man.

    • Invisible Visible Man May 21, 2012  

      Sorry, I meant at the start, “You are, Bikeyface, right…” It’s very rude to get someone’s name wrong.

  • Reinder Dijkhuis May 24, 2012   Reply →

    In honour of this post, I rode shirtless on Tuesday. No response of any kind, alas.

  • Peter Lütken May 27, 2012   Reply →

    I am particularly fond of those guys hanging out of the passenger side window yelling “Hey, Thor Hushovd! Find someplace else to train for the Tour de France!” (Make that Lance Armstrong on your side of the pond, perhaps)

    I tend to blow kisses at them as they speed off.

  • steve magas May 31, 2012   Reply →

    So what yer sayin’ is that you really don’t WANT one of my “My Bike Lawyer Can Beat Up Your Dumb Lawyer” jerseys???

    Steve Magas
    The Bike Lawyer

  • John May 31, 2012   Reply →

    I too have trained myself to respond to incivility (at least if it hasn’t actually endangered me) with the friendly wave, usually with “Have a nice day!” Don’t know how they feel about it, but it makes me feel better. My friend John Schubert says his favored response is “Hi, Pat! See you in church!”.

    • Dottie June 2, 2012  

      Ha! “See you in church!” I’ll have to remember that one.

  • Dottie June 2, 2012   Reply →

    This is great! My problem is that my forced positive smile may come out more as a crazed grin. Although I guess scaring people is not the worst in the world. 😀

  • ladyfleur June 3, 2012   Reply →

    When I notice that drivers are not looking at me, say looking behind me as I’m about to pull out of a parking lot, I’ll wave to get their attention. It works well most of the time, but the other day I actually had someone wave back in a mocking way. I ignored it.

  • Janice in GA June 3, 2012   Reply →

    I’m a confirmed smile-and-wave rider. If they wave back, I KNOW they’ve seen me. When I’m at a stop light and a car comes up behind me, I turn around and smile and wave at the folks behind me. That way they know that *I* know that they’re there. (Note: no bike lanes where I usually ride, so I don’t filter to the front to the right of traffic. I sit in line like a vehicle.)

    I have this happy fantasy that this makes me seem more like a real person to a driver. Doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally get honked at or yelled at. I just wave at them too.

  • David June 3, 2012   Reply →

    Flashing just wouldn’t work for me….(-; I could be riding naked and you wouldn’t know it. I’m not invisible but you can’t see me in my “bike” as I ride inside a Velomobile. My Velomobile is 9.5′ long by 30″ wide and shaped sort of like a rain drop. On the tail end of my Velomobile I have a highly reflective orange vertical decal that is approximately 3.5″ x 18″. Mounted to that is a tail light and a brake light. On ether side of the tail I have amber turn signals that I can run as 4 way flashers (there are two amber turn signals on the front end also) when needed. I have a 400 Lumen AY UP flasher mounted to the highest point of the body, just behind my head at 36″ above the ground. I run my lights all the time. I run a roof most of the time primarily for privacy.

    Riding in the gutter is the most unsafe thing a cyclist can do. I won’t ride in the gutter and will completely take the lane when I think some numskull will try to pass me is an unsafe manner. Most of the time I have no problem with traffic but even so I’m am passed when I’m doing the speed limit or faster. I am passed when approaching the crest of a hill and around blind curves. Then there are those who will pass me on a strait away, forcing oncoming traffic off the road.

    I get lots of waves and friendly taps of car horns, far more often than not which I will respond in like though I’ve had motorists get right on my tail when I’m doing 35 in a 35 mph zone when there is a clear passing lane. All I can see in my mirrors is grill. I won’t budge and I will give them the single finger salute.

    Personally I prefer “Take The Lane” to Share The Lane”.

  • steve magas June 7, 2012   Reply →

    I’ve read this piece several times, and I STILL laugh so hard, particularly at Retro-Grouch, that coffee flies out of my nose…

    Steve Magas
    The Bike Lawyer

  • Ryan Surface June 8, 2012   Reply →

    Thank you for the chuckles, great post

  • Beth June 11, 2012   Reply →

    Hey Bikeyface!
    from your comrade in painting, Beth, at Foundation for a Green Future. I thought you might be interested in mentioning BostonGreenFest 2012 in your blogging day. Boston GreenFest 2012 takes place at Boston City Hall Plaza August 16th – 18th Thur, Fri, Sat. It’s a totally free event for all ages, open to the public and will feature a variety of eco-themes offering ways to help the environment, exhibitors, food and fun and 3 stages featuring world class performances. You can find plenty of information about BGF by visiting or by emailing Karen Weber at

    May potholes never even see you coming! (could be a biker blessing…we sure could use one!)


    Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.

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