Do the right — and left — thing


To the Editor:

Cyclists, when was the last time you said “On your left” or “On your right” when coming up behind someone on the bike path? While walking yesterday, about 15 bikes passed me. All caught me by surprise because no one bothered to let me know they were behind me. One almost ran into me. I get it, because you are biking, you think you own the bike path. Anyone not motorized can use the bike path. Please start using common sense, and let noncyclists know that you are approaching, before there is an accident that you may regret. “On your left,” “on your right.” It is not that hard.

Jean Tatelbaum


  1. Jean– thanks for taking the time to write before someone gets hurt.
    Pedestrians should keep right while walking, and cyclist should pass on the left– with audible warning, such as “bike on your left” well in advance of actually passing. I have seen people have a startle response and go in either direction.
    Bicycles should never pass on the left.

  2. Cyclist here. I do give audible warnings and at least 50% of the time the person moves in the wrong direction. It is really quite amazing how many people jump into your path instead of moving out of it if you ring a bell or tell them you wish to pass to the left. Walkers need to pay attention too! Many of you hog the middle of the path, or completely block it if walking side by side. Stay to the right, expect bicycles to pass you on the left, and don’t text while walking!

    • Have you ever come up cyclists riding side by side?
      It is more fun because you can talk to other.
      And not just look at each other’s butts.

      • It’s supposed to be a Shared-Use Path or SUP. In order to share it you can’t block other traffic, so please don’t walk or bike side by side so that you block the path. However, virtually every day I have to move off the path and back on in order to avoid people blocking the entire width.

  3. I ride regularly and use a bell. With the wind on the path and owing to luck and age am not always heard. I don’t often say “on your right or left” because I don’t want to startle the person as they are prone to move from one side to the other in a confused effort to accommodate. In other words, saying nothing is safer. This goes for ringing the bell to close on the approach. The current arrangement of not informing the waker unless the person is blocking the path seems to be the most merciful for all concerned and the least likely to result in injury or ill will. I do apologize for all bikers for startling you the same has happened to me when I am walking, though less so now that I ride so much.

  4. Thank you for this letter! We’ve been whizzed past several times over the last month. On the other hand some cyclists say “Good Morning!” as an audible that they’re coming, followed by “have a nice day” as they pass. It’s really not that hard to be considerate.

  5. Thanks for this letter, Jean Tatelbaum! My walks often involve the stretch of bike path across Old County from the West Tisbury School. I do pay attention to what’s coming up behind, but I’m also paying attention to the trees, the sky, and my 15-month-old malamute. My hearing is pretty good, but some bikes are very quiet and I’ve been startled more than once. I respond PDQ to an “on your left” or “on your right,” ideally spoken before the cyclist is on my heels — startled, anyone could jump in the wrong direction. I’ve never heard “bicycles should never pass on the left” before. On the road, one walks against traffic, but the bike path is not the road. I’m also noticing more Rollerbladers this year, and the Rollerbladers’ stride doesn’t fit neatly on one side of the path. Seriously, if you pay attention, it’s not all that hard. If you don’t, well, you’re probably going to piss people off.

  6. Bicycles should always pass on the left, proceeded by a loud “On your left”. Pedestrians should always stay to the right on the bike path. By the way, if there is a bike path next to the road, bicycles should NEVER be on the road, EVER.
    Darrell King, Edgartown

  7. I stand with Jean Tatlebaum!
    To the bikers ( and drivers, for that matter):
    ALWAYS PASS ON THE LEFT!!! NEVER on the right. That settles it then.
    So, that you have my support, will you please make me a pie? Or some blueberry corn muffins??? ????

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