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I've been "shoaled" and I just don't understand it. I've never done it myself. Is there anyone in our midst that is a shoaler or shoaler reformed?

I believe the definition is: passing the faster rider (that just past you) at the light while he/she is politely set back from the intersection and waiting for the light only to be passed by the faster rider once more after the light changes. (please correct me if I'm wrong)

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People ride differently.

When I ride in the morning, my goal is to take it easy and not get sweaty. I wait my place in line and have no problem with someone faster going to the front at an intersection.

But when I ride home, I want a workout and to get home as soon as possible. I know who is going faster than me and don't shoal them. If I know I am going faster than those ahead of me, I'll sometimes go to the front depending on the situation. I am not trying to be rude, just efficient.

Either way, it has never felt unsafe to me.

People also (for better or worse) cross intersections differently. Some wait for the light and some go when conditions allow. It only bothers me if someone flies through it in a dangerous way or makes things less efficient because it was someone else's turn.

So we have had heard from those who don't think anyone should jump the line, and those who don't think people who are slower than them should jump the line. I would really like to hear from that slow person who shoals. Why do you do it?

'Shoaling' is not about "one cyclist compulsively moving to the front" at a signalized intersection.  'Shoaling' describes the whole complex interaction of many cyclists (with different riding styles -- very skilled and experienced, enthused but not super-skilled, beginner, first-timer, etc. -- and different kinds of bicycles -- cargo, trailers, tandems, BMX, road racers, folders, etc.) collecting/interacting at signalized intersections.  Unfortunately, there is not "one rule" for all cyclists to always follow for all situations.  'Proper' (i.e. safe) behavior depends upon the situation and the person / people present. The only rule is: to "be mindful of all people and things around you" -- i.e. "be considerate", i.e. "put safety -- yours and all other cyclists and pedestrians -- ahead of all other concerns".  That said, this does not mean that you abandon or forget all other goals/concerns that you have.  A cyclist -- I mean, "we" cyclists, since we are talking about shoaling, which involves groups of cyclists -- can accomplish several goals at the same time -- if we are mindful, observant, respectful, careful, cautious, and communicative.  If you want the 'best and safest behavior' from yourself and other cyclists at signalized intersections, then constantly pay attention, notice other riders' speeds, styles, etc. Read (like a book) the cyclists and the other roadway users around you, and also all the traffic controls and conditions of the road, very carefully and constantly.  Adjust your 'interpretation' of the road and those you share it with constantly as conditions change.  Is this focused, constant attention too much to ask?

So I'm riding to work on a road bike and come up on another rider on a long straight. I'm faster, holding about 19mph and she's going about 14mph. I catch up and once behind, I retain a polite distance matching her speed for a short while and then pass on the left. After a while she's back like a quarter mile. I make a turn and can't even see her any more. Eventually I get to a long light and I'm waiting a reasonable safe distance back from an intersection where traffic is moving through the light at 50+mph. I am actually next to the lead stopped car and my front tire is even with their front bumper. Next thing I know the woman I passed five minutes ago rolls up and passes me in the gravel shoulder and moves out into the intersection only a couple of feet from the high speed semi's and cars. My question is why? It's not a problem, seriously, no problem at all for me. I actually feel a little sad for this person. I just am curious to know what they are thinking?

The only think I can think of is that it sounds like you were pretty far back and possibly in the front car's blind spot. When I am first at an intersection, I pull out to where the "bike box" would be to be visible by all four cars at the intersection and the line of cars in my lane, as a safety measure.

She perhaps did not feel safe way behind the front car like that. Next time, ask her!

"The only think I can think of is that it sounds like you were pretty far back and possibly in the front car's blind spot" Nope, I was making eye contact with the car driver and even with his front bumper. She pulled up in a dangerous spot. It's not a typical four way stop, super dangerous intersection. She risked life and limb to move out ahead.

They aren't thinking. At least, not thinking about anyone but themselves. Essentially the same mentality as the person who tries to board the L while other people are exiting.

Today... is it polite if I purposely asked a person that I was going to get in front of them?

Scenario - 5:35PM northbound on Dearborn, getting shoaled here and there. 

I get to Dearborn and Wacker. Guy in front is 1st in line. I rest my forearms over my handlebars. Guy in front lets out a huge puff of cigarette smoke and I go to him and say: Hey! I am getting in front of you. I don't like your cigarette smoke on my face!

Guy just leans away and says nothing. He actually just turns around next to car traffic and rides away. 

7:50PM - my lady and me are eating at KAI Sushi on State St near Roosevelt - We're eating outside. I spot a cyclist on the sidewalk. Same GUY! Cigarette in hand! I explain to her about the above - and of all the people in this enormous city, what are the odds of seeing who I shoaled?

Same cigarette? If you really wanted to show your courtesy, you should've walked up to him and offered him a fresh one.

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