Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Etiquette Lesson

Etiquette is defined by Wikipedia as "the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group". While at times I may fail to demonstrate proper etiquette when I get angry and swear like a sailor or fail to RSVP to events in a timely manor, I do try my hardest to be as polite as possible at all times and I consciously remind myself to be ladylike.

Well today any ounce of grace which I had flew right out the window after a rather strange encounter with a biker on the lakefront path during my run. For those of you who are not familiar with the Chicago lakefront, there is a beautiful 26 mile two lane pedestrian path that is snugly wrapped around the lake. For the most part this path is an uninterrupted strip of limestone and pavement that is meant for runners, bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, and those who just want to be able to take in the beauty of the city. Because this is the longest strip for pedestrians in the city, it can become crowed and congested in the summer months and on weekends. I tend to do 99% of my runs on this path because it is the safest place for a runner in the city and frequent during all types of weather at all different times of the year. I feel comfortable with the unwritten rules of the path; stay to the right, when passing announce yourself properly and nicely, and if there is congestion on the path to adjust my pace to not harm other people. Simple enough right?

I did my easy 9 miler on the path today, and the path did have more people then usual that were trying to take in the nice weather while it lasted. As I was scooting along minding my own business I heard a female biker from behind yelling "move over to your right, biker coming through". So I moved all the way over on the path. As the biker got closer she begun to yell again that I need to move over because she is coming in fast. She then whizzes by me clipping my left elbow with her handle bars and then turns around to say some choice words to me and ends it all with a flip of the bird. Yikes.

What the hell was all I could think to myself, and then proceeded to say a few choice words of my own about how rude she was and how persons of intellect don't curse random people out and flip them the bird. To say that I was angry would be an understatement, I was P.O.ed. Not to be jerky to bikers, but persons on foot will always have the right-a-way over a bike, especially when you are coming from behind them. And there really is never a good reason to yell and curse a person out who is minding their own business.

So that all being said, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to put into writing what I consider proper "athlete to athlete" conduct when using shared spaces.

If you are a biker, do not hit others with your bike. It is rude and there really is no reason for it. Matter of fact, do not touch anyone in an unwelcome way...biker, runner, skater, walker, whoever and wherever.

Announce yourself graciously when passing others. Do not yell that they need to get out of your way because you are coming through. You and your workout aren't any more important then anyone else. We all have equal rights to public spaces.

If there is no room for you to pass those that are moving at a slower pace then please be patient and wait for a safe time to pass.

Unless you are the Micheline Man, you do not need the entire Chicago lakefront trail. Please share kindly with others.

Just to throw this one in there, if you are running and a runner is attempting to pass you please allow them to do so. We all run at different paces, and there is no shame in letting a female pass you if she is moving at a quicker pace. Ruining your workout and hers so she can appropriately pass you is no good for anyone.

I am not perfect and my etiquette often lacks appropriation for a situation, but I think it is important for everyone to have a certain amount of self-awareness. Please be courteous, this is all I ask.


  1. Amen sister! Man that girl was rude, there was no reason for her to be that awful!

  2. Good points. Sorry that happened to you, so rude!

  3. for some reason, bikers all seem to come off arrogant and like asses to me! at least the decked-out-biker-outfit bikers.

    reminds me of something that irritated me the other day though.. i was running on a path and two ladies were walking toward me side by side on the path taking up the entire thing. both obviously made eye contact with me. neither attempted to make run so i had to get in the grass to go around them. RUDE!

    ps. that is so awesome that you have a 26 mile path for runs!! love that so much.. i'm always struggling to figure out a good route for my long runs.

  4. I'm sorry that happened to you. :( I've dealt with similar situations. I'm glad that you're ok. :)

  5. oh my goodness! very rude! I had a bad encounter with a biker this past weekend- I wish they had read this post!

  6. I am happy you were not hurt!

    My coworker was telling me how she went biking on the path Saturday and hit people TWICE. For all I know, that could have been her running in to you yesterday. There are just people out there who have no common courtesy or etiquette. I don't get it. Some people just DON'T think about how their actions affect others.

  7. i can't believe she clipped you and then responded in that way! ugh! glad you are ok :)

  8. So rude! Rude people are no fun and make life such a downer sometimes. :(

  9. Oh my gosh, I know that must have been SO hard not to flip out on that girl. I'm not stereo-typing because I have many awesomely nice biker friends but through my running I have had multiple encounters with bikers being rude even when i'm totally out of their way. I was on a 20 mile training run a few month ago and actually had a lady tell me to 'get the eff outta the way'. And I was!!! Why can't we all just get along ;)

  10. LOVE this post. THANK YOU. i've had at least 3 really really close encounters with bikers (lets not even talk about taxi cabs). It's really hard when people are rude especially trying to deal with it while you are RUNNING a hard workout. I don't understand bikers sometimes. i run into the same issues in central park. at least you are OK. some of the things that happen to runners on training runs are ridiculous (i've gotten pegged by water balloons, a friend got spit on, etc etc). hang in there :)