Us V. Them – More Aloha, Please!

APEC protesters and HPD Bike Officers side by side, by Matt Ursua

With all the animosity between Bike Commuters, Rollerbladers, Mopeds, Pedestrians, Car, Trucks, Buses, and Trolleys encountered on my daily commutes, I’m surprised that others haven’t realized how far a little Aloha can go!  In past weeks, presidents galore have been abounding in Honolulu, clogging up the streets, protesting, making front-page headlines, and creating extensive roadblocks in Waikiki and Ko’Olina thanks to APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Craziness).  Here are some tips for the world citizens to help keep their sanity in traffic: Ride Aloha, Live Aloha! 

Thanks for the photo, Kate B! I had the same one on my BMX, but it cracked and died.

1.  Bike V. Pedestrian –  Cyclists, a bell or a shout out is helpful here.  If you start getting bike path rage along Ala Moana beach park, consider RL’s advice and take it slow…  If auditory warnings are being blocked by impenetrable headphones and Lady Gaga earwaves, wait for a large enough opening and zip past without giving them the finger!  Pedestrians, “on your left” does not mean jump direcly in front of the bike.  Just one-two step to the right to allow the cyclist to pass you on the path!  Courtesy shaka as you pass for good measure! 

2.  Bike V. Car – I’m going to share my all-time favorite bike commuter Aloha move  that seems to put traffic-angsty drivers at ease.  It’s like a Bike Side-Step.  So you’re riding in the right lane (I like to ride aligned with the back right tire of cars, a tip I LGRAB’ed from Dottie) and you come to a stop at a red light.  You are first on the line with cars behind you.  I turn around, do some attmpeted sign language to determine if the driver wants to turn right (blinker, what’s a blinker in Honolulu?) and then move over to the left side of the lane to allow the car to pass.  Wave and smile to encourage the driver to pass through…  Even if they cannot make the right turn before the light turns green, this move is like when your grandma gives you candy in church – an unexpected surprise that makes church tolerable and makes you adore your grandma!  Strangely enough, my grandma was diabetic and I had ADHD, so I’m not sure if it was a good idea for everyone else, but I thought it was awesome.

Who drew these cheesey cartoons!!? Will they draw one for me of the Bike Side-Step?!

3.  Bike V. Bus:  Some people tell me horror stories of drivers of TheBus in Honolulu, how they intentionally persecute cyclists up hills, or honk and scare the living sh*t out of you when they zoom past.    Some people tell me stories about a-hole cyclists who almost ran them over on the sidewalk as they stepped off the bus.  Well, Some People, have I got news for you: some cyclists are a-holes, and some bus drivers are a-holes.    Major Digression/Minor Rant:  I don’t think I am an a-hole cyclist, so don’t tell me this story expecting apologies.  Similarly, I would not tell stories about terror-children on 8-hour international flights to my friends with kids expecting airline vouchers.  So, lovely Bike Commuters, consider several options to deal with the Bike V. Bus scenario.  I often avoid streets laden with bus thoroughfares and opt for the back roads.  Or, you can just slow down a bit to avoid bus-frogging all the way to your destination.  As for the honking, this can’t be avoided!  Apparently it is a local rule that buses honk twice to alert cyclists that they are passing.  Hold on to your spandex for that one, Honolulu commuters, HBL already asked the Dept. of Transit to delete that rule from the training book when we met with the cartoon mayor… TO NO AVAIL!

Or we could just make a bike bus....

I had a great ride in today, where I stopped (yes I stopped, and put down my goofy foot) at the last 4-way stop intersection before my office.  There was one car and one truck, and they both gave me extra Aloha and let me cruise through first, waving me on by.  Thanks lady in the big silver pick-up, I will remember you the next time I feel like flipping the bird at some a-hole driver.  A little goes a long way!  No reason for road rage when we only have first-world traffic jams!  I don’t think I could ever go back to the motherland:

Beijing 2010: longest traffic jam ever on the way to grand opening of City Wok!


  1. BluesCat

    Mir.I.Am, I think the Bike Side-Step idea is one of the most terrific Share the Road ideas I have heard, ever. When I think of all the times I’ve been sitting in the lane, waiting to go straight when the light changes, and had a car pull up behind me and elevate my anxiety another 50% … I must be a total dummy to have not thought of it before.

    I’m going to implement and share that idea with everybody I know. Thanks!

  2. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @BluesCat: That’s awesome! Glad you enjoyed. P.S. this is what I think of when you leave a comment:

  3. BluesCat
  4. Litter Patrol

    Fantastic reminder to folks. We moved to a small town a few months ago and my daily ride starts about 3 miles out of town on a country road. I was a bit nervous about it(very few bikers here – we are working to change that, plus 40-50 mph roads, no shoulder, known as a bit of a hick town etc) As an experiment, I got myself some white high vis gloves and started waving at everybody – and I do mean everybody. Cheerful, friendly waves. It’s now to the point that people are waving to me before I can get my hands off the handlebars and 99 percent of the time give me the full lane when passing. If there’s an oncoming car they will almost always wait behind until the oncoming lane is clear before passing. As the Bouncing Souls song goes – be an optimist and happiness will find you. Be friendly to people and it will almost always come back.
    I’d also love to see bike commuters/advocates lay off the heavy handed environmental rhetoric. Most people will react much more positively to enticement than guilt trips. The people that are concerned about that kind of thing are already making steps that way. We need to convince the other side to ride bikes and if we get them doing it, that will follow 🙂

  5. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Litter Patrol – I like the cheerful friendly waves with reflective gloves! Nice touch. And I like the fact that drivers are waving at you too! I thought of you today as I waved extra often at intersections, makes 4-way stops so easy. Thanks for the tips…….. 🙂

  6. Graham

    I long ago decided that everyone that honks at me is trying to be extra friendly and that they’re just limited to what their horn sounds like, so I wave super cheerfully at them.

    I can’t say if it helps them calm down or cranks them up even more, but I feel better about it either way. 😉

  7. Elizabeth

    @Litter Patrol – what kind of reflective gloves do you have? I love to be lit up – the more lights, more reflective/hi-vis stuff = all the better.

    I think this holiday season we can all use extra cheer, too! Thanks for encouraging the “bike commuter wave” 🙂

  8. Litter Patrol

    Ha! They aren’t actually reflective, just blindingly white cotton. The local hardware store must have gotten some kind of deal on them- they have no name are .50 a pair and are probably meant to be throwaways, but I keep washing and using them 🙂

  9. Elizabeth

    @ Litter Patrol – decorate those gloves with some reflective stickers and you will be hi-vis. 🙂

  10. Litter Patrol

    I like it!

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