The three words that mean so much when they come from a cyclist.

“On. Your. Left.”

Also known as calling your pass.

I ride my bike a lot. I ride it to work, I ride it to meet friends for a drink, I also ride it super fast up really big hills for exercise. So, I know a few things about riding a bike and bike etiquette.

Saying “On your left” is a courtesy that should be extended by every single cyclist - and, more importantly, every single cyclist using one of the many multi-use paths in the great city of Denver. You might be asking me “Why is this important?”, so I’ve created you an FAQ of sorts as an easy reference.

Why do I need to say ‘On your left’?

Easy - it lets other cyclists and pedestrians know you’re coming up behind them at a faster speed than they are traveling.

Why is it important to let cyclists know I’m coming?

Because they will need to know if you are on their left in case they need to avoid a hazard in the path. Hazards can be things like bees, rocks, holes, ice, leaves that look like big rocks, glass, or any other debris that you would probably not want to run over in those super trendy skinny tires.

Okay, that makes sense, but what about pedestrians - they aren’t moving that fast and I’ll fly by them before they even notice.

Have you ever been running or walking and you’re lost in your thoughts and you’ve had a cyclists fly by you and scare the actual poop out of you? Pedestrians also avoid path debris and can get excited with their arms and flail them about, potentially slapping you in the face. Pedestrians also have little things that walk with them like dogs and tiny humans. Tiny humans and dogs are unpredictable and you don’t want to hit one and have that on your conscience. Announcing your approach allows them to wrangle their tiny walkables so they don’t get crushed by your steel frame.

I have a ton of excuses why I can’t say “On your left”.

Let’s hear them!

I’m breathing too heavy and can’t say anything.

The only time you should be breathing that heavy is when you’re flying up Lookout Mountain on your speedy road bike, but then you’re probably breathing so heavy they can hear your approaching - that’s when you should have a bell - that can speak for you.

If you’re on the path and you’re traveling that fast - you’re going too fast. The speed limit on the paths in Denver is 12mph. That’s fast for the average once-in-a-while cyclists, but for us who like to ride fast - it’s nothing, and easily exceeded. Don’t go that fast on the path - you’ll hit a dog or a human and you’ll feel terrible for the rest of your life.

Slow down. Breathe. Say “On your left”.

But, they have headphones in!

So? You don’t know how loud they are, they could be listening to an audio version of the Harry Potter books, or could have only one bud in (which is super safe and everyone should do that). Headphones or not - announce your approach.

My bike is loud and the path is quiet they should hear me coming.

No, they can’t. When you’re riding with the wind blowing in your face it makes it very difficult to hear things behind you.

I just don’t want to do that.

Too bad. Be a nice cyclist and do it. When you don’t do it - it makes the rest of the cyclists look like we don’t give a shit. A lot of us give a shit - and you should too.

Others don’t say it - so why should I?

True - there is a vast majority of people who don’t say it. But I believe that if more people START saying it - it will hopefully rub off on the rest of the cycling community.

Okay - I’m convinced I’m going to start right now!

Great! Just don’t get angry at people who don’t pick it up right away - kindly remind them to call their pass. They will probably get mad at you for pointing out that they did something unsavory - because people these days can’t take criticism. But that’s okay - the next time you see them - call your pass and maybe something will sink in.