WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Waving to bikes, waving to cars

By James - 4/11/2005

I was out driving home from a hike with the dog and had the windows down, both me and the dog were cooling down on a warm and sunny spring day. She had her head out the window and I was wishing I could do the same but for the wellbeing of both of us I just dangled my left arm out. Rumbling down the road towards me were two cruisers and as they got close I instinctually waved. As soon as I did it alarm bells went off in my head. “You are driving a Civic, dummy!” my inner voice yelled.

I was reading a survey, You Are What You Ride, about motorcycle behaviors commissioned by an insurance company. There is a section in there about waving to other riders. Now I know this gets a lot of discussion about who waves to who, everybody seems to feel left out by another group of riders. I don’t really feel like writing about that. I want to talk about waving to cars.

Back to the two bikers I waved to from my car; they didn’t wave back. Maybe they didn’t see me, maybe they don’t wave to cars, or maybe they just don’t wave to anybody. I wondered how I would have reacted if I was on that motorcycle. I have never had a car do the oncoming-wave-thing to me. But I do know I have waved to cars. I do it as an an acknowlegement for a good deed rather than a “what’s up". I can’t always wave when someone does something good, because it is more important at the time to work the clutch, but I try to reinforce good cager behavior when I can.

A lot of us make sure cars know when they make a mistake, but how many of us acknowledge a car moving over for us or yeilding the right of way? We have a hard enough time converting cagers to biker-friendly cagers, which makes it doubly important to keep those biker-friendly drivers happy with bikers. We should make these drivers feel like their actions are not in vain and, at least for a moment, that they are a friend of the biker family.



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  1. Hi James, Happenend to me several times in a cage. Just a reaction. Once hit the closed window very hard… you feel like a fool ..

    In France we always stick out our leg to thank a car who’s gone out of his way to be helpful!

    Comment by Mike Werner — 4/12/2005 @ 8:49 am

  2. You stick your leg out? Here we only stick our leg out when we are trying to kick the car. I never heard of that before.

    Comment by James — 4/12/2005 @ 9:01 am

  3. Yup. You stick it out since your arms are kind of busy… You also stick out your right leg when you pass another biker.

    Tried it last time in Florida with a pickup that had let me pass, and they guy got really pissed and started blowing the horn. Better the horn than a gun I guess ;-)

    Comment by Mike Werner — 4/13/2005 @ 8:22 am

  4. I ride with several buddies down here, and we only stick our leg out to warn the riders behind us of some kind of hazard, like water or sand, or something.

    But I’ve had cagers wave at me several times. I never wave back at them! But I do wave at fellow riders, be it rice-rockets, or BMWs, or cruisers.

    I once even waved at some guy on a “Silver Wing", which is actually a scooter, not a motorcycle. But it looks just like a Gold Wing from the front. I thought to myself, “That was a fricken scooter you waved at!”

    Comment by Steve — 4/14/2005 @ 9:58 am

  5. Your comment about waving at cars was interesting - I was just thinking about that yesterday when driving on Grizzly Peak. I let a bike (racing type) pass me by pulling into a shoulder and got no aknowledgement. Not that I really expected one - maybe it wouldn’t be safe to do so, maybe he didn’t know I pulled over for him and not just for a break or whatever. But it made me wonder if they were appreciative of cars who let them by or feel that its a responsiblity of some sort on our part.

    Comment by Casey the Cager — 4/18/2005 @ 11:00 am

  6. In Ireland I and my motor cycle mates always wave at a motorist if they do move over or do somthing helpful. I find that commuting to work has got easier with cars pulling over to let you get up the middle between lanes. I also make a point to wave to kids in cars as they will hopefully be bikers in the future and if they see that we are not the bad people their parents say we are all the better. Being arrogant gets you nowhere but a friendly gesture can work wonders. I ride a 2005 Triumph Sprint.

    Comment by Trev — 12/16/2005 @ 6:18 am

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