Too Close for Comfort

If you’re lucky enough to have a bike lane, you’re still probably not lucky enough to have a comfortably wide luxurious bike lane. And even with the words “Bikes Only” coupled with cute little stick figure cyclists, you’re probably spending a good deal of time avoiding things in your lane that are not bikes. Space is precious.

So I’m surprised that sometimes when I’m in the bike lane there is always a cyclist who decides to pass me within the narrow bike lane.

Sometimes on the left, or worse, on the right. And even in intersections when the light turns green where cyclists are most unstable as they start moving. They silently sneak up on me without a word of warning. Just once I wish they would yell–

Too Close for Comfort

Or if that’s too long, maybe just shout–

Too Close for Comfort

And sometimes when they pass so close that I can feel their arm hair I want to say–

Too Close for Comfort


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  • Lizardizzle June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Sometimes I’m a little sad that I never get to see any other cyclists around where I live, but maybe that’s a good thing. 😀

  • jofegaber June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Dear ours, this is obviously a matter of style of dress …. Try a KISS style, ie jackets with spikes, logos gore and some intimidating poster. hahaha. Just kidding … You’re right, most times the cyclist himself or respected, or respect their peers …. The car culture has played havoc with our minds. A greeting.

  • Richard June 6, 2012   Reply →

    life on a bike is fun most of the time. Unfortunately, like anything in life involving people, your experience is always going to be consistently different. That’s because some people take care of others around them, and others assume that those around them can take care of themselves. We hope that most people will take care, however, in today’s busy, busy life, time and space is precious and lots of well meaning people take less care than is appropriate. One thing I can’t understand is how people can ride with earphones! How can you be aware of everything around you? – which I think is absolutely essential to surviving on the road.

  • anniebikes June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I hate it when people pass too close and frighten me, even on our separate path. I was hauling my kids’ Razor scooter the other day, sideways on my bike rack – not on purpose of course – but the effect was like a barrier around me. I rather liked the space it afforded.

  • @teeheehee June 6, 2012   Reply →

    If they are dangerous and discourteous while riding, it would be the same if they are walking or driving. When I get passed on the right it’s usually right before they run a red light.
    I agree with Richard above about earphones – I’ve seen and used types that keep the ear canal open for hearing my surroundings but ultimately didn’t need to listen to music that badly. I suspect it won’t be long before Google releases their augmented reality glasses and we see people wearing those while riding, too.

  • David June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I’m a member of the Joint Transportation Committee here on Martha’s Vineyard representing cyclists and pedestrians. There are no bike lanes here. One of the biggest complaints I hear is from cyclists and pedestrians is about getting BUZZED by other cyclists unannounced on various bike paths. Some of these guys are hauling @$$.

    We all hate when a motorist buzzes a cyclist out on the road but there are just to many cyclists who do the very same thing to other cyclists.

    About ear phones and those running or cycling on bike paths with the music cranked up. Music cranked up so high that I can hear. Add to that folks who are incapable of maintaining a strait line on a narrow and you got a problem. There have been times that I have dinged my bell, honked my electric horn and shouted and screamed to no avail.
    It’s not a problem in the winter as I am the only one out there but come the good weather and tourists, they are here.

    Last Summer I started to carry a squirt gun. It works just dandy.

  • Megan June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Everybody has their own riding style and as long as they don’t endanger other people, I’m glad that they choose to ride a bike.

    Much like Amsterdam, I will happily take a close call with another cyclist every once in awhile just to enjoy what streets full of bicyclists looks and feels like.

    • Michael June 6, 2012  

      Yes. Enjoying what streets full of bicyclists looks like.

    • Moopheus June 6, 2012  

      Passing on the right in a narrow bike lane is a dick move no matter where you live. You are endangering other people if you’re threatening to push them over, or if they might swerve into you because they don’t know you’re coming up there. We have a real simple rule here: pass on the left. They teach it in driver’s ed, and most cyclists here have been through that.

    • Jeff C June 6, 2012  

      Here’s a conundrum – how do you pass when the bike lane is on the left (see: Comm Ave)? That whole thing just throws me for a loop every time.

  • lummox June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Who passes on the right? That’s just plain wrong!
    BTW, Love the blog :)

    • dr2chase June 8, 2012  

      It’s not entirely safe, either, given that people are accustomed to being passed on the left, and are accustomed to hearing “on your left” — they often veer right by habit. Only near-accident with a jogger was passing on the right, attempting to be nice and taking the icy route. She stepped right. No harm, but plenty scary.

  • Jeff C June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I too far the awkwardness of having to say stuff when passing. That’s why I have a bell. Clear, loud, unmistakable. Vote bells 2012.

    • Jeff C June 6, 2012  

      fear* the awkwardness…

  • iain June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I pass on the right all the time, but people should also consider that Bikes are a form of transport, and if you are wobling around blocking the way at 10mph and I am traveling at 15 then I have a problem. Please ride consistantly and then there is no problem. BTW. I live in a place where there are more bikes than cars and we drive/ride on the left! cheers from sunny Malawi!

  • Phoebe June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Too true about the “arm hairs” bit! How many times have I been like “Dude. You are in my LAP.” It can get as tight as a subway car out there with all the men crowding up on you. And, in my experience, it’s usually men doing this little maneuver. Men with the exact same unconcerned expression as the gent in your illustration.

    Keep up the good work, Bikeyface! I’ve enjoyed seeing your cartoons posted around JP on the Blessing of the Bikes flyers. Makes me smile every time.

  • Ben June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I love the last scene! You always give me a good chuckle.

  • Saddle Americana June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Ah yes, it’s always strange and frustrating when the cycling enemy becomes another cyclist. How will we ever take over the world without complete unity?!

  • Marge June 6, 2012   Reply →

    I love you for posting this. This happens all too frequently to me. Sadly it is always men that do this. I’ve never had a famle cyclist do this to me.

    • Andy June 12, 2012  

      That’s a bit surprising to me. I get shoaled by both women and men in about equal numbers. Passing on the right is very uncool but passing while waiting at a light and then clogging the lane is also lame if not as dangerous IMO.

  • Wandering Woman on Wheels June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Wow! I had no idea this passing on the right thing was so prevalent! It usually happens to me when I have stopped at a red light (imagine that!). It doesn’t seem to matter if the light has just changed to green and I am starting off again, or if the light remains red and some ignoramus decides to both pass me on the right AND blow through the red light. Frequently, this will occur at the red light near the monument in JP or the next light by Dunkin Donuts. It always catches me off guard because there is no warning and it is startling.

    I do ride at quite a good clip on the bike paths and on the sidewalks on Hyde Park Ave. (because I refuse to ride in that narrow, racetrack street it has become). But when riding in bike lanes next to traffic and parked cars, I take a slower, more cautious pace. Without fail, there are many things to suddenly avoid, such as doors opening, double-parked vehicles to navigate around, pedestrians that see you coming but jump in front of you anyway (“Hey! I’m in the crosswalk!” yelled one crosswalk jumper. “YES, and you were RUNNING! I CAN’T STOP THAT FAST, IDIOT!” I yelled as I dodged around him. So in such a busy area, I am even more surprised to be passed on the right, although I ride on the left edge of the lane to avoid car doors opening. But that is not an invitation to pass me on the right. If someone opens a door, they’d miss me, but get you, and you would take me out, so it IS dangerous for that and many reasons. Not to mention impolite.

    Sometimes I do pass other cyclists. I’m on a 21-speed, so someone on a single or 2-speed bike may not be going as fast as me, though I do not tear through Centre Street at breakneck speed. But if I do pass, it is on the left, in the traffic lane, and I do give a shout out or ring my bell. But generally, in business districts, I do not hurry, as I want to arrive at my destination in one piece.

  • Frank June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Fortunately, where i live most bike lanes are not so narrow. But your right, passing too close or on the right side pisses me off too. But most annoying when people (mostly students and school kids) ride with 4 of 5 besides each other. leaving no space for others.

    You’ve got a great site b.t.w.!

  • I rarely pass/am passed by another cyclist going in the same bike lane here (of which there are very few…and mere after-thoughts in the design),but I definately feel what you’re saying about passing/being passed (from rail trail rides). Space IS very precious,especially one’s “personal space”…not enough people now-a-days seem to appreciate or respect that fact…

    The DC

  • JP Gal June 6, 2012   Reply →

    Can’t wait for your take on bicyclists going the WRONG WAY on the street or in a bicycle lane. Having another bicycle coming straight toward me on a busy street is one of the scariest things I’ve experienced bicycling in Boston that I’ve never seen in any other city. What can we do to get people to ride with traffic rather than against it?

  • Dottie June 7, 2012   Reply →

    “Buy me dinner first!” Ha! I will be so proud of myself if I’m ever sharp enough to use that line in the future. :)

    Cyclists pass me on the right way too often in Chicago. That is so unsafe for the reasons you show here, plus because the passing cyclist is putting him or herself in the door zone, which I’m always trying so hard to avoid, and if a door opens in the path, I’m going down, too. I posted about this once and was disheartened by the many comments supporting the idea of passing on the right. *forehead smack*

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