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"Good morning!"

One big rule of bicycle etiquette is to warn other people when you approach to pass them. Most cyclists around here shout “on your left.” I use a bell, since I don’t like shouting at people, but either one works. This past week, I encountered another technique in the wild.

As I was biking down the street, a man behind me shouted, “good morning!” just before he rode past.

It was an ordinary situation, but it stuck with me. Perhaps this says something about the culture of my town, but I’ve never noticed a bicycle rider say “good morning” (or afternoon, or evening) to alert me of their passing. The politeness of the phrase felt refreshing.

In our post-etiquette world, we have a tendency to reinvent old courtesies as soon as we realize they aren’t so obsolete after all. Most of the time, our reinventions are woefully utilitarian. Case in point: “on your left” to signal that you are approaching someone on their left.

Riding a bicycle in our towns can already feel dismal and oppressive at times. Why not add some charm and politeness to it? As much as I enjoy ringing my bell, I may start adding some more classic courtesies to my repertoire.

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