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Old 11-10-08, 09:15 PM   #1
veridea
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Do women face more road rage from drivers?

I had a conversation with my boyfriend the other day about all the idiocy I'm confronted with as I bike to work each day. The basics about me--I'm on my bike about 6 days a week, I ride responsibly and at a reasonable speed, I obey all traffic laws, I ring my bell to death, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree, and I wear a bright pink helmet. My boyfriend rips through the city on an old single speed, never wears a helmet and thinks stop signs are for suckers. I'm working on fixing this.

Anyway, my point is, I get a lot of flack from drivers--and nine times out of ten, it's those who see me that are the biggest problem. Drivers will speed up, swerve around me and cut me off to turn at green lights. They'll pass too close to me from behind and nearly clip me in the process. I get hollered at, and all in all treated like some poor schmuck taking up space. I'd say this happens about three or four times a week, at least. And I live and commute in Toronto, which has quite a few cyclists zipping about.

My boyfriend, however, rarely has any negative incidents with drivers at all. I don't get it. I follow the rules--he doesn't. He has the idea that I get taken advantage of because I'm a girl. I think it's because I'm not particularly aggressive when I ride. I did mull it over with a few girlfriends of mine who bike about, and they clearly have issues with drivers showing a lack of respect.

Is it just ridiculous sexism on our part, or is there some truth to it? Anyone have any similar experiences?

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Old 11-10-08, 09:27 PM   #2
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I think it's because I'm not particularly aggressive when I ride.
There you have it. And you likely ride a little too far to the right.
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Old 11-10-08, 09:32 PM   #3
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I say sexism.
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Old 11-10-08, 09:38 PM   #4
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I'm a woman, and I've rarely had any incidents. Maybe it's the pink helmet and all that bell ringing. Try a neutral colored helmet and pick up the pace ... but keep riding to the right (unless you live in Australia, of course).
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Old 11-10-08, 09:43 PM   #5
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I don't have a problem with drivers too much, but then I'm aggressive and take the lane when I need to. I don't get yelled at as much when I'm by myself either. When I ride with men, there are more "***" type insults from bozos and teenage boys.
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Old 11-10-08, 09:45 PM   #6
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yah, I definitely could stand to be more aggressive. I think that's probably the real issue.

But I love my pink helmet!!
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Old 11-10-08, 09:56 PM   #7
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Drivers will speed up, swerve around me and cut me off to turn at green lights. They'll pass too close to me from behind and nearly clip me in the process.
You need to buy the Take A Look mirror because you need to know what's coming up from behind. Only a mirror will determine if you're blocking traffic and this is the source of your frustation. Once I see the cars starting to pile up behind, I'll pull over and let them pass. This avoids all the anger you see out on the street.

Once traffic is clear, I'll start and this will usually give me a mile or two before the cars start to pile up again. During a 15 mile ride, I may repeat this two or four times depending on the conditons.
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Old 11-10-08, 10:06 PM   #8
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Agressive drivers are always upset, especially when they think someone is slowing them down. An agressive cyclist who runs stops signs, red lights, and otherwise do what they do, isn't the enemy. If you follow the rules and ride at what you say is a reasonable speed, you are a target for their anger.
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Old 11-10-08, 10:08 PM   #9
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I remember a report posted in SS/FG that said women received greater passing distances than men. So I'd chalk it up your riding less assertively than your boyfriend.
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Old 11-10-08, 10:12 PM   #10
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You say you ride at a "reasonable" pace ... do you mean slow? And does slow translate into wobbly and swervy? In other words, do you ride fast enough to hold your line? If not, that's probably why you're getting the reaction you're getting ... drivers don't know if you're going to wobble/swerve in front of them and they want to get by you as quickly as possible.
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Old 11-10-08, 10:16 PM   #11
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<sound of pan flutes>

The street is like a stream, the cagers are the rocks. They wish they could move but can only clash with each other as they clumsily and slowly roll on the bottom. They envy the water that flows around them so effortlessly. They see you and demand that you be a rock like them and share in their misery, but you are just a little pebble that will be crushed by them..... your boyfriend, however, has become as the water and can flow effortlessly around the rocks. I choose to be like the water.

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Old 11-10-08, 10:21 PM   #12
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Once traffic is clear, I'll start and this will usually give me a mile or two before the cars start to pile up again. During a 15 mile ride, I may repeat this two or four times depending on the conditons.
You really pull off the road and come to a complete stop on average every 3.75 miles?

And by your post and apparent idea of blocking traffic; YOU are blocking traffic at least half the time.

Your rides must really (reader should insert their favorite negative word here)!
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Old 11-10-08, 10:29 PM   #13
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I vote for the theory that if you are slow and obey all laws, you are almost always "in the way". Your boyfriend isn't in the way.

I figure staying out of the way of dangerous things like automobiles is more important than obeying the law.
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Old 11-10-08, 11:23 PM   #14
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I vote for the theory that if you are slow and obey all laws, you are almost always "in the way". Your boyfriend isn't in the way.

I figure staying out of the way of dangerous things like automobiles is more important than obeying the law.
Oh please. Motorists don't give a fig about your speed. To them, we are all slow! They can't tell the difference between 6 MPH and 22 MPH. They think the speeding cager in front of them is slow too! Do motorists get out of each others way as you expect of cyclists?

Veridea, speed isn't the issue. As long as you can hold your line as Machka suggests, you are traffic. Don't let the idea that others may have to give way to you cause you to compromise your safety. Don't be bullied! Motorists face far greater delays from other motorists than they do from you.

If it is your cycling style that is seemingly inviting bad behavior, act and expect to be treated as any other vehicle on the public street, and it should diminish.

Tailwinds!
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Old 11-11-08, 01:20 AM   #15
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Do motorists get out of each others way as you expect of cyclists?
Absolutely. That is the basis of nearly every traffic law and roadway design: to keep people out of each others' way. Cars choose different positions on the road depending on their speed, whether they are planning on turning right or left, etc. When people don't stay out of each others way - bad stuff happens.

I find it ridiculous that so many here are so stuck on the idea that we cyclists have the "right" to be on the road (of course we do) but feel we don't have to behave like other vehicles and can choose to go as slow as we want and block other vehicles, go straight through intersections even from the far right where every other vehicle turns from, and so on. If we want to share the road, we should do our best to fit in and not expect the rest of the vehicles to conform to our needs.
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Old 11-11-08, 01:28 AM   #16
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If we want to share the road, we should do our best to fit in and not expect the rest of the vehicles to conform to our needs.
I agree, except I would add that they should conform to our safety needs, i.e. pass us safely. I would expect drivers, especially those in smaller 4-wheel vehicles, to freak out at least a bit when a tractor-trailer passes a tad too close. The size differences between those two seem appropriate in a cycling discussion...

Coincidentally, I get yelled at more when on the saddle by people with larger vehicles. The larger the vehicle, the louder and lengthier the insults are. Quick, someone do a regression analysis.
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Old 11-11-08, 07:17 AM   #17
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Interesting, my wife has nearly the same experience. I ride assertively (and faster, I suppose) and don't get much flak. I don't expect it either, but when it comes I don't let it bother me much. She rides rather more cautiously, slower, and genuinely expects it all the time. She also gets quite upset by it, for quite a while afterward. Makes me wonder if there is something to that idea that you tend to experience whatever you most expect and spend time thinking about. Or it could be a bunch of yoghurt weaver nonsense...
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Old 11-11-08, 07:44 AM   #18
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You need to buy the Take A Look mirror because you need to know what's coming up from behind. Only a mirror will determine if you're blocking traffic and this is the source of your frustation. Once I see the cars starting to pile up behind, I'll pull over and let them pass. This avoids all the anger you see out on the street.

Once traffic is clear, I'll start and this will usually give me a mile or two before the cars start to pile up again. During a 15 mile ride, I may repeat this two or four times depending on the conditons.
This may work for him but has proved utterly unnecessary for me. Normally I'd feel no need to say anything but he says you "need" this and that.

Over time something changed and I get harassed less and less. People still floor it to go around but I figure that's how they drive normally. Oh well, it's their gas and their transmission they're wasting.
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Old 11-11-08, 07:51 AM   #19
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I don't know how cyclists ride in Toronto in general, but if your boyfriend exhibits the norm and you deviate from it - no matter the propriety or legality of the norm - that deviation may be the "problem." It may well be that the drivers are expecting one thing, for right or for wrong, and you aren't doing it, thus creating in the drivers' heads the impression that you're an annoyance or a hazard to be avoided.

I think that the best people to tell you why what's happening is happening would be others from the Toronto area.
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Old 11-11-08, 07:52 AM   #20
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Absolutely. That is the basis of nearly every traffic law and roadway design: to keep people out of each others' way. Cars choose different positions on the road depending on their speed, whether they are planning on turning right or left, etc. When people don't stay out of each others way - bad stuff happens.

I find it ridiculous that so many here are so stuck on the idea that we cyclists have the "right" to be on the road (of course we do) but feel we don't have to behave like other vehicles and can choose to go as slow as we want and block other vehicles, go straight through intersections even from the far right where every other vehicle turns from, and so on. If we want to share the road, we should do our best to fit in and not expect the rest of the vehicles to conform to our needs.
So you're saying they follow the law and additionally choose their lane depending on their needs. That's not what's being asked of us. We're being asked to follow the law and stop and get out of the way sometimes. I have no problem following the law, but I'm not going to stop and get out of the way.

And it's not that I don't try to help drivers out. Countless drivers have got their "right on red" because I was on a bike not in a car. I ride to the right, sometimes when I probably shouldn't, knowing that the standard sized car can squeeze by without really taking the other lane. I'll pick it up if drivers can't get around me: That means more sweating for me. I look for routes that are outside of the heavily used roads: This is a benefit to me as much as them. I don't filter because I think it's rude.

But, again, I'm not going to stop and get out of the way.
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Old 11-11-08, 08:25 AM   #21
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Just to clear it up, I'm not a wobbly cyclist. And though I don't speed through intersections, I don't crawl along either like I'm on a one speed cruiser or anything. Just average speed, I guess. I've got a mirror on the bike I use in rougher weather, but I don't find that it works better than shoulder checking.

A former coworker and I would share stories sometimes...she'd been riding in Vancouver for something like ten years, and then she moved here. She was run off the road several times in Toronto.

It also might have soemthing to do with my route, which is a little unavoidable...still, plenty of cyclists use Queen St every day....
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Old 11-11-08, 09:18 AM   #22
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I do suspect that women and younger people get yelled at more because there is a perceived lack of physical threat.

I drive the same way I ride, if someone really, really wants to get around me and there is something reasonable I can do to help them, I do it. I prefer to have such people in front of me where I can see them get into trouble.
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Old 11-11-08, 09:50 AM   #23
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So you're saying they follow the law and additionally choose their lane depending on their needs. That's not what's being asked of us. We're being asked to follow the law and stop and get out of the way sometimes. I have no problem following the law, but I'm not going to stop and get out of the way.
I think there was one person who said s/he sometimes stops and gets out of the way. But I certainly don't feel that way. Keep going, by all means. In fact, if breaking the law is safer and leads to better flow of traffic, do that to. Live a little.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:06 AM   #24
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I don't know your boyfriend, but some riders are less sensitive than others to driver behaviors. He could be encountering even more negativity than you but riding on obvious to it.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:08 AM   #25
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Your problem is your boyfriend. You need to dump him.

You're welcome.

PS Meet me down in the dating thread.
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