Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bike etiquette in Yiddish!

Yesterday in this space I started out by telling you about how readers around here come and go. And then I was going to tell you about how sometimes I say something really important and fundamental, but after a long time a lot of the people here on this blog haven't heard it because they weren't there back when I said it. This is what I think of in the blog business as a "set up". It was going to lead into my ridiculous, obsessive, but very clear-headed and essential reflections on bicycle passing lane etiquette. This is a subject that has been discussed here before, but I felt it could use some freshening up. But as so often happens with my introductory comments, they take issue with being yoked to my preconceived fancies. So, as they often do, yesterday, they ran off in the direction of their own whim. Their own whim, it turned out, had something to do with my being Jewish, which I barely and completely am. And before I could do anything about it the whole blog post ended completely in Yiddish. Yiddish! 

Reflecting on this now I realize that this may have something to do with my blog's curious resistance to becoming wildly popular, and also probably has to do with the "and go" part of the phrase "readers around here come and go". The number of native secular Yiddish speakers has, over the past 80 years, dropped from 12 million to just 22. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally my blog readership is also 22!

So then here is how you pass on a two lane, two way bike path:

If there is no bike in the oncoming traffic lane you go into that lane and, passing on the left, you... pass.

That's all!

You do not say "On your left" unless what you really mean is:

"Haha! I am faster than you by a mile, loser!"


"I don't trust any human being other than myself and I don't care how irritating or dangerous that may be to others." 


"Hi! Isn't biking virtuous and fun and just delightful! How I wish I could stop and chat with you even though you're a stranger. I would ask you loads of fun questions and not listen to your answers! But alas I must be moving on. Have a nice day!"


"I don't understand any of the subtleties about biking etiquette as I have only been biking for 28 years now and I don't speak Yiddish."

But if you are trying to say any or all of those things, "On your left" is a very succinct way to put it.


  1. On the other hand, if you are over the age of, oh, twelve or so, and you are riding your bike on the sidewalk; or if you are any age, riding on a shared walking/biking path, and you come up behind me, please DO say "on your left." Say it loudly and clearly, don't mumble. I'm old. I don't deal well with mumbling.

    If you are older than twelve-ish and you are riding on a sidewalk, get the heck OFF, and ride on the right, with traffic, where you belong. And follow all the rules that apply to vehicles; your bike is a vehicle.

    I'm sure that you, sir, obey all the rules, at least when it comes to bike riding.

    1. Naw, I'm a rebel, and avoiding you on shared paths I'd rather ride through shrubbery instead to avoid having to say the dreaded "on your left", but if necessary I'll say it, and I'm with you in spirit here.

  2. Let's talk about street etiquette. When I'm out rolling around in my mobility scooter and an able body deliberately strolls in front of me are they just being putzes or schmucks? At first I'm thinking "Feh", that is until my schmaltzy Buddhism helps unravel that reaction into something more like " Meh". Oy, if I'm not careful the process trips up because of the inconvenience of a deliberately clouded mind. Feh! Oy!


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