Smile, it’s free

Ever since the combat with the cities of Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates began over the installation of a few signs (more NIMBY agitation over this than over the federal class action lawsuit alleging gang behavior and city complicity, yo), I’ve been testing the theory that local residents dislike cyclists.

What I’ve found is that for they most part, they do not. At worst the don’t care. At best they actually like us. The Lunada Bay Boy on Mom’s Couch and his NIMBY vidiot-recorder who are making such hay with their hatred of cyclists are a tiny slice of nastiness and venom in otherwise pretty nice bunch of folks.

I’ve reached this conclusion by running the following scientific test throughout PV when I cycle.

  1. Approach walker, jogger, leaf blower, gardener, trash truck operator, woman pushing stroller, dad getting into his car on the way to work, etc.
  2. Smile.
  3. Wave when it’s safe to do so.
  4. Say “Good morning!”
  5. Alternatively, say “Hello!”

In virtually every instance people smile back, return the greeting, and/or wave.

There are always one or two people over the span of several days who are so deeply sunken in their reverie of how they’re going to evict their son from their couch, or who are so sour that nothing can penetrate their misery, that they pointedly stare at the ground or grumpily refuse to make eye contact.

But you know what? They are a tiny minority. Pretty much everyone else doesn’t object in the least to the fact that you’re on a bicycle.

Not only that, but the occasional grumpster, like the lady yesterday who said “Good morning!” back to us and followed up with “I can hear you in my bedroom talking at 6:00 AM!” are amenable to conversation. One of our riders stopped and spoke with her and explained that whoever she was hearing, it wasn’t us because we don’t ride at that time on that road.

The lady then … gasp … apologized.

This is the great evil of a few diehard haters and the cesspool of angry comments that makes up places like NextDoor, where you can post anonymously with no fear that you’ll ever have to reveal your name and explain your bizarre notions to real people. The evil is that the perception — “Residents hate cyclists!” — creates reality.

Fortunately, with the simple act of a few free smiles and liberal use of the greetings you learned in kindergarten, the myth can be shown for what it is, that is, much sound and fury, signifying either nothing or a very uncomfortable couch.



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34 thoughts on “Smile, it’s free”

  1. Great observation. I think this is true everywhere. It’s really easy to get mistreated by a tiny number of people and assume “everyone” is like that.

    One nit… Nextdoor is not anonymous. To the contrary you have to verify your identity and local residence to get on.

    1. Actually, it’s pretty rampant on Lunada Bay NextDoor. A little investigation will show that there are 2-3 very vocal people who dominate the conversation in a very nasty way – some even like to think of themselves as local superheroes , identifying every little thing that is wrong with what goes on, then pattting themselves on the back in an effort to drum up usiness (“Wow, great catch, thanks for telling us” and so forth). They simply adopt the alias of renters or eldery parents residing in homes they own. Its prettty easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for – its sad beause they end up “talking to themselves” in an attempt to rile up otherwise good folks, who sometimes simply get caught up in the shame spiral without even knowing.

  2. Sometimes, “All I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten” rings true… Even way down here in south south bay (San Diego), I’ve found just about everyone I say “Hi” to responds in a similarly pleasant manner…

  3. Robert Cisneros in Redondo

    I completely agree with you Seth, I end up riding PV alone a lot due to my work schedule and always make a point of smiling and saying hi to whomever might be out there at the time and have found that most people in PV are cycle friendly.

    We have to start with the right attitude and be positive even to the negative people out there.

  4. Maybe if the grumpy lady didn’t invite cyclists into her bedroom at 6:00 am, she wouldn’t hear them talking!

  5. It seems that Nextdoor is being abused by the Lunada Bay NIMBYs. Too bad, because in my area Nextdoor seems to be doing what they claim to do. It only has things like “do you know a good plumber” or “I have a great recipe”.

  6. My Dearest Wanker – when you tell bicyclist to be nice to other people, I worry about you. Have you fallen and hit your head? Is Mrs. WM adding something to your breakfast that has deflated your ego (and maybe something else)?

    All kidding aside, I actually appreciate your suggestions. With a little eye-to-eye contact and a few friendly greetings, many people will start to see bicyclists as a humans – a father, mother, husband, wife, brother, or sister – instead of underwear-clad, thrill-crazed demons.

  7. And by greeting people you help enforce the impression on locals that more than cyclists, we are just people.

  8. Pingback: Weekend Links: A call for bold action on bikeways, and driver high-fives passenger after dooring bike rider |

  9. Who would have thought, next we could try being nice off the bike and start a revolution of congeniality.

  10. As a resident of the “evil empire” (lol) I don’t hate cyclists but I do hate the rude and inconsiderate behavior of some (few? Maybe. One tends to remember only the bad ones). For example, last Saturday four cyclists riding shoulder to shoulder up our narrow street forced my wife to the curb and nearly hit a pedestrian in the process. Sure there are drivers just as bad in their own way but they get ticketed by the police. Bottom line-if we were all courteous and smiled at each other the negative perceptions would quickly dissipate along with the need for more street signs.

  11. We love a bit of sex talk down here in Brisbane, gives the lazy buggers who can’t drag their arse out of bed something to listen to as we ride past.

    Though it has been some years since this last media beat up.

    Got the one finger wave, “mornin” and smile down pat for my bike commutes.

  12. Amen. Me and my dirtbag mtb buddies lay on the smiles and “ENJOY YOUR HIKE, HAVA GREAT DAY!” to every single hiker we see. The crabbier they look the more emphasis we put on the loveage. 99% of the folks we come across respond in kind. And some chunk of them may have a better perception of mtb’ers as a result. We’re dirtbags, not dicks! The few that are wallowing so deeply in their horse patties as to be grumpy while hiking in beautiful nature… well at least we tried and put our awesome 29″ tires’ best knobs forward. Hey, Seth, come ride mtbs with us sometime! 😉

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