Posted: June 17, 2014 in Opinion
Tags: , , ,

I started riding on the road with my son when he was around 8-years-old.  He was on a little red 24″ Specialized Allez and would get all sorts of looks, waves and words of encouragement whenever we went out for a ride.  It was nice.  It demonstrated the ‘community’ in ‘cycling community’.

Now he’s all grown up – well he’s tall any way – and doesn’t have that ‘cute factor’ (more that awkward teenage factor) and when we ride we don’t get any more looks, waves or words of encouragement.

Not long after starting on the bike, we found ourselves in Tassie riding the beautiful roads around Launceston.  And in Launceston EVERYONE WAVES.  I’ve been back to Tassie quite a few times now over Christmas and you can tell the mainlander (as they call us), because they’re the only ones that don’t wave ‘hi’ to passing cyclists.

I think Scott McGrory, Bendigo local and Olympic Gold Medallist, started some discussion about the wave on an episode of the popular The Bike Lane in early 2013.  He also tweeted some comments using the hash tag #bringbackthewave.  I want to keep the campaign moving…

We went for a ride in Bright the other weekend.  It was a gorgeous weekend weather wise and it seemed there were two bikes for every car up that way.  We did a Mt Beauty loop on the first day; climbed Buffalo on day two; and, while the others rode, I rested on the third day.

On the first ride I thought I’d try a little experiment.  I’d wave at every rider that was coming the other way and see what sort of a response rate I got.  I’m pleased to say that I got around a 44% positive response rate (38 out of 88 riders).  Now I reckon I can excuse around a dozen of them as they were descending particularly fast or on technical parts of a mountain, so I can mark this up to around 50%.

Beach Rd on the other hand, I’m lucky to get a 2% response.  Occasionally a lone rider will respond or, of course, if you know someone coming the other way, they’ll always give you a wave, but generally, Beach Rd riders don’t wave.  Now on a Saturday or Sunday morning I can understand that you’d be waving every few seconds with the numbers on Beach Rd, and I’m not advocating people taking their hands off their bars at that sort of interval, but… I think there are occasions, where you find yourself on the front of a bunch and see someone coming the other way that a slight raise of the hand or even nod of the helmet can’t hurt.

I’m not sure if its that people fear they won’t get a response – I’d say this is the case – but if we can’t be friendly with each other, what chance do we have with our relationship with car drivers.

And that’s the other occasion to wave: when a car driver does something courteous.  It might be that they should legally have done it, but give them some recognition.  A little wave of appreciation for seeing you and treating you as they should… this sort of response will breed a better relationship.

So, for those of us in the big-bad cities, #bringbackthewave, you might the surprised at the responses you get and the positive feelings you create.

Women tend to wave more than serious male cyclists all dressed to impress.

Women tend to wave more than serious male cyclists all dressed to impress.

  1. Pierre Pino says:

    I can tell you that the wave is alive and well here in Italy. More so in the south than the north.

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