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  1. #1
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    CA road rage vs the rest of the USA

    I have read many stories about confrontations between cyclists and drivers of cars. A disproportionate number seem to take place in CA compared to the rest of the country. Those in CA also seem more likely to end in violence.

    Would some CA cyclists like to post an opinion on this. Is it just more media coverage, more cyclists, or another comment you may have?

    As someone who has rode a bike my entire life, to grade school, high school, college, the gym, work, I never experienced rode rage between myself and a driver. Not saying I wasn't angered, hit by cars and experienced many an uncomfortable situation, but I never had an argument with anyone.

    I spent most of my 40 years in NYC and the suburbs, the past two years in NC. (Off topic, I hate NC, at least the coast where I live, not a single hill, climb, bump in the rode. I am so out of shape.).

    The recent story about a doctor who intentionally hit someone was most disturbing, story claims he hit someone intentionally before. Do cyclists not line up single file when cars come from behind in CA? Are there too many cars, too many cyclists? Cars cannot pass cyclists even riding single file?

    One of the reasons I am curious is I am considering relocation to CA and want to know what to expect. Thank you.

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    maybe we in california just complain more.

    We may just have more bikes on the road in dense urban areas.

    Just for the record, I get yelled at 10 times more often when I'm in a car than when I'm on my bike.

  3. #3
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerotrek View Post
    The recent story about a doctor who intentionally hit someone was most disturbing, story claims he hit someone intentionally before. Do cyclists not line up single file when cars come from behind in CA? Are there too many cars, too many cyclists? Cars cannot pass cyclists even riding single file?

    One of the reasons I am curious is I am considering relocation to CA and want to know what to expect. Thank you.
    California has it's share of idiots, probably no more than anywhere else. In cities with a lot of traffic (of which there are many) motorists are more likely to get ticked off at cyclists.

    We have our fair share of bad cyclists and drivers. You just need to ride responsibly and be aware of your surroundings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerotrek View Post
    I have read many stories about confrontations between cyclists and drivers of cars. A disproportionate number seem to take place in CA compared to the rest of the country. Those in CA also seem more likely to end in violence.

    Would some CA cyclists like to post an opinion on this. Is it just more media coverage, more cyclists, or another comment you may have?
    It may be more cyclists in CA and more riders in groups, small or large that may anger drivers. Often groups of cyclists behave arrogantly and this may lead to road rage problems. Still many bikers are very experienced, behave like a vehicle and encounter usually very few problems.

    I ride about 8000 mi a year and experience maybe one or two "incidents" per week in the form of too close passes or being cutoff by drivers. In general at least in central and east San Diego county, drivers are used to cyclists and most know how to behave. Of course some don't.

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    mev
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    I have lived in San Jose, California; Boston and northern MA and in northern CO. I have also cycled in all 50 states.

    I wouldn't agree with your statement that CA is significantly different than the rest of the USA. It is also important to realize that CA is a pretty diverse place and cycling in San Diego isn't quite like cycling in the Central Valley and that is yet different from the North Coast.

    If there were any places where I found things a bit tougher on bicycle it would be:
    -- crossing metropolitan Miami, Detroit, Baton Rouge and South Chicago
    -- cycling across LA and parts of MS where cars weren't quite expecting me
    However, even in those places, I suspect the time of day and particular roads I had chosen were at least as big a factor as the particular city or state.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    I just spent a couple of weeks in California and go there frequently.

    I thought that California drivers are more considerate than many other parts of the USA. This includes LA. When driving, for example, if you turn your blinkers on even in the worst of traffic, other drivers tend to give you space to get in. Try that in Chicago and drivers speed up to make sure you can't fill the space in front of them.

    Contrary to popular belief, California doesn't really seem to have a lot of bicycles. San Fran might be the exception, but other cities have very few bicycles compared with other cities in the USA.

    My impression is that California really is an automobile state. People are on the move in automobiles. Nothing ever seems close enough. There seems to be a mindset that the better shopping is at the next shopping center over, the better restaurant is in the next town - a quick 30 minute drive away. I noticed that in California, I spent more time in cars than normal. It is no great surprise that fine in-car drive-through dining was made popular in California. The automobile seems to be a bigger part of everyday lifestyle in California than in other states.

    Driving or bicycling in California is more stressful than other places because the traffic is always so prominent and congested no matter where or what time. Also, you just seem to be in the car going from here to there so much that one gets "car stuffy", if you know what I mean. This must grind on drivers who might, in turn, have less tolerance of being inconvenienced by sharing the road with bicycles. So all-in-all, I would say that despite the politeness of many California drivers, it is a stressful place to drive because of the constant congestion.

    Consequently, I did not bicycle in California. Frankly, bicycles seem out-of-place in all that congestion. You would have to have a death-wish to bicycle in most of what I saw. For you Californian bicyclists - there is a whole country of better bicycling waiting for you eastward.

    But as for road rage, I dunno. I don't see it
    Last edited by mike; 11-14-08 at 04:01 AM.
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    Senior Member WPeabody's Avatar
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    Seems they are just as aggressive here as in many other places I've been. Law enforcement around here seem to be cracking down on aggressive drivers. Yet, I hear an accident and resulting sirens about once a week or so-- in fact I heard some rather alarmingly long screeching tire sounds, just now-- at the intersection near where I live.
    What do you call a cyclist who sells potpourri on the road? A pedaling petal-peddler.

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    As others have said, it depends entirely on where you live. The best bicycling location I've ever seen was the campus at Stanford in Palo Alto. Bicycles everywhere. Low, slow traffic. Gorgeous weather. Not going there for undergrad is one of the few decisions I'd change if someone gave me the chance.

    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

    I don't want to have a head on but oh god, I HAVE to fling myself into oncoming traffic to pass, theres no alternative!!!

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    California's the biggest state in the country and different parts of the state have very different mentalities. Southern and northern California might as well be in different countries for how differently things like cycling are seen. The valley is an entirely different wonder with cities that are very tolerant of cyclists and cities where it's unheard of. The coastal regions tend to be extremely favorable towards cycling until you reach Los Angeles, at least in my experience. It's just all over the place... depending on where you go your experience is going to vary widely. Without a doubt, some cities in California feature cycling modal shares that are among the highest in the country. At the same time, some cities (San Joaquin Valley especially) are among the most auto-centric in the country. Just depends on what part of California you mean when you say "California".

    YMMV

  10. #10
    Senior Member bhop's Avatar
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    There are tons of bicycles in L.A. Maybe not as much as Portland or something, but I see a few other riders just about every time I ride, even if i'm just going a quarter mile. Cycling here isn't stressful at all. In fact i'm more stressed when i'm in my car. I feel relaxed when on my bike, passing all the cars stuck in traffic jams..

    Sure there are some idiot drivers that you might have to deal with from time to time, which isn't as often as you might think, but if you're always alert and don't ride like an idiot yourself you can usually avoid any confrontations. From my own experiences riding 9 months here, 80-100 miles a week, most drivers are pretty considerate of bikes, but as I mentioned, there will always be some jerks.

    I gotta say though, most of the worst rage stories i've read on here have been from Florida, not Cali, but i've read stuff about every part of the country in my time here. I think you're worrying too much about it personally...

  11. #11
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    I don't think cycling in Los Angeles is substantially different than riding in Seatte as far as road-rage incidences. I don't think I have any more negative run-ins than I did in Seattle either. As I've said before there are a certain percentage of the population that are a-holes and some of them drive and some of them ride. If you're in a city you'll run into more a-holes just because you run into more people in general, but I think the altercations are less intense because you're surrounded by witnesses. I think out in the sticks it can get worse because there's nobody watching.

    And as far as better riding heading east, LOL! Tell me that when you're buried in snow this January and I'm still riding in a t-shirt through the canyons.
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    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    From my experience, San Diego can be pretty rough in spots, depending on the area. In the downtown and old central neighborhoods (Downtown, Normal Heights, etc), not bad at all, and in the newer business neighborhoods (Mission Valley, La Jolla/UTC, etc) with arterials, moderately horrible.

    I feel that infrastructure that makes the newer roads easier to drive on (highly engineered roads with gradual, banked curves) actually cause drivers to become lazier, pay less attention, and more dangerous.

    Since moving to Portland, I've noticed a few things. I noticed how much tougher it was to drive on a lot of the older roads. Turns were often sharper, lanes narrower, and informative road signs not always very clear (or present). It often requires much more attentive and slower driving. I also instantly noticed how much more polite and conscientious most of the other drivers were. Stopping for pedestrians, letting people over, not being nearly as aggressive as what I normally was used to in San Diego.

    Bicycling here has been a delight. There are still a few arterials that seem to encourage buzzing by drivers (MLK, Sandy Blvd), but the streets and intersections that many told me were notoriously dangerous spots for cyclists were a breeze compared to what I experienced every day in San Diego (commuting between Mission Valley and Normal Heights).

    But then again, I'm sure that San Diego is by no means the worst. Virginia (Falls Church, Springfield, etc.) was an absolute nightmare for cycling on anything but a MUP. I'd loathe to cycle in much of Florida, or urban New Jersey...
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun View Post
    From my experience, San Diego can be pretty rough in spots, depending on the area. In the downtown and old central neighborhoods (Downtown, Normal Heights, etc), not bad at all, and in the newer business neighborhoods (Mission Valley, La Jolla/UTC, etc) with arterials, moderately horrible.

    I feel that infrastructure that makes the newer roads easier to drive on (highly engineered roads with gradual, banked curves) actually cause drivers to become lazier, pay less attention, and more dangerous.

    Since moving to Portland, I've noticed a few things. I noticed how much tougher it was to drive on a lot of the older roads. Turns were often sharper, lanes narrower, and informative road signs not always very clear (or present). It often requires much more attentive and slower driving. I also instantly noticed how much more polite and conscientious most of the other drivers were. Stopping for pedestrians, letting people over, not being nearly as aggressive as what I normally was used to in San Diego.

    Bicycling here has been a delight. There are still a few arterials that seem to encourage buzzing by drivers (MLK, Sandy Blvd), but the streets and intersections that many told me were notoriously dangerous spots for cyclists were a breeze compared to what I experienced every day in San Diego (commuting between Mission Valley and Normal Heights).
    I have to concur.

    It has been my experience that the east county areas that are quite fun to do long "tour" type rides and motorists tend to be pretty tolerant, but as you move into "the newer business neighborhoods" with the high speed arterials and dense driveway/business structures, things get a bit dicey. The older neighborhoods have no special bicycle affinity... but the roads are a bit narrower and the traffic speeds are considerably slower. I lived car free in City Heights for 5 years and quite enjoyed it. These latter "older areas" are more "european" in layout, with commmercial intermingled with housing. The newer areas are decidedly more "branch like" with isolated pockets of housing development and mall like commercial areas connected with high speed arterials that make you feel like you are biking on the freeway.

  14. #14
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treespeed View Post

    And as far as better riding heading east, LOL! Tell me that when you're buried in snow this January and I'm still riding in a t-shirt through the canyons.

    The weather is better in California than it is for it's neighbors northeast that is for sure.

    I was refering to the traffic pressure. Of course, there are small towns in California where the bicycling must be absolutely fantastic.

    You know, it is silly to make a broad sweeping statement about any place - especially California because the state is SO HUGE! So, in retrospect, my comments were silly. But without some silliness, these forums would be nothing.
    Mike

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    First of all , crowded L.A. does not reflect riding conditions in lesser congested areas... Yes. My experience Calif has more rage in general due to crowded highway conditions.. But, that rage is not necessarily specifically directed at cyclists... Due to the greater numbers of cyclists Calif motorists encounter compared to else where;so, my expereince is . there is a greater acceptance of cyclists than elsewhere.... And, cycling infrastructure in Calif is some what better than most of the US.. So, we cyclists tend to be slightly more sheltered from the craziness on the other side of that bike lane marker.
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    Nothing can compare with the absolutely horrible biking (and driving) conditions in Miami, FL. South Florida is the road rage capital for 2 years in a row and it is a well deserved designation.

    I have ridden extensively in Berkeley, San Francisco and San Diego (even highway 1) and I have never com across the intentional nastiness and outright unsafe driver actions towards cyclist (that borders on the criminal) that I come across every day here in Miami.

    Today, for example, I had a driver that was coming in the opposite direction flash his lights at me as HE turned left right in front of me so close that I had to brake hard to avoid him.

    Not a day goes by without some sort of insult from a driver and not a week goes by without an outright rant or laying on the horn for a block or more by a driver just because I have the audacity to ride a bicycle on the street.

    The drivers here are worse than the drivers in Mexico City.
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  17. #17
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    In almost every "my cities drivers are the wost" type threads there
    is usually some contrasting opinions. I have yet to see a daily S.Fl rider who
    is in disagreement with the stuff mentioned below. Speaks volumes.





    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    Nothing can compare with the absolutely horrible biking (and driving) conditions in Miami, FL. South Florida is the road rage capital for 2 years in a row and it is a well deserved designation.

    I have ridden extensively in Berkeley, San Francisco and San Diego (even highway 1) and I have never com across the intentional nastiness and outright unsafe driver actions towards cyclist (that borders on the criminal) that I come across every day here in Miami.

    Today, for example, I had a driver that was coming in the opposite direction flash his lights at me as HE turned left right in front of me so close that I had to brake hard to avoid him.

    Not a day goes by without some sort of insult from a driver and not a week goes by without an outright rant or laying on the horn for a block or more by a driver just because I have the audacity to ride a bicycle on the street.

    The drivers here are worse than the drivers in Mexico City.

  18. #18
    Flat Ire
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    Consequently, I did not bicycle in California. Frankly, bicycles seem out-of-place in all that congestion.
    Congestion, for sure. Example:



    Damn, that congestion!
    Caly is a huge state and there all variety of conditions. Congestion is only one of about 32 varieties. The ice cream here is really good too.

    BTW, in the picture, this is where this road crosses from LA into Ventura county. You can see the county "line".

    I cycle usually a hundred miles on the weekend and I can say that car drivers are generally much nicer to cyclists than they are to other car drivers.

    My run-ins with stupidity are infrequent and with RRage rare, in fact only once. And it was a soccer mom driving a van with kids in the back. Go figure.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun View Post
    From my experience, San Diego can be pretty rough in spots, depending on the area. In the downtown and old central neighborhoods (Downtown, Normal Heights, etc), not bad at all, and in the newer business neighborhoods (Mission Valley, La Jolla/UTC, etc) with arterials, moderately horrible.

    I feel that infrastructure that makes the newer roads easier to drive on (highly engineered roads with gradual, banked curves) actually cause drivers to become lazier, pay less attention, and more dangerous.

    Since moving to Portland, I've noticed a few things. I noticed how much tougher it was to drive on a lot of the older roads. Turns were often sharper, lanes narrower, and informative road signs not always very clear (or present). It often requires much more attentive and slower driving. I also instantly noticed how much more polite and conscientious most of the other drivers were. Stopping for pedestrians, letting people over, not being nearly as aggressive as what I normally was used to in San Diego.

    Bicycling here has been a delight. There are still a few arterials that seem to encourage buzzing by drivers (MLK, Sandy Blvd), but the streets and intersections that many told me were notoriously dangerous spots for cyclists were a breeze compared to what I experienced every day in San Diego (commuting between Mission Valley and Normal Heights).

    But then again, I'm sure that San Diego is by no means the worst. Virginia (Falls Church, Springfield, etc.) was an absolute nightmare for cycling on anything but a MUP. I'd loathe to cycle in much of Florida, or urban New Jersey...
    I agree with most everything you say, and I often bring up the last point in trying to explain the difference between CA (where I've lived most of my life) and VA (where I live now). Northern VA, which includes half of the Washington DC suburbs, is a lot like Orange County CA in size, and era and type of development. Plop someone down in most northern VA suburbs and they might think they're in Irvine or Mission Viejo. But while you can ride a bike almost anywhere in "the OC" pretty comfortably, northern VA is a hellhole for cyclists. The difference is the roads. Since the early 60s all new arterials in CA have wide outer lanes that allow true separation and real bike lanes. VA has no such thing, only 12' lanes that are choked with 50 MPH traffic.

    But CA is degenerating, as more and more cloverleafs and diverging high speed turn lanes are being added to arterial roads, making them like freeways. They're ridiculously overengineered, too easy to drive too fast.
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  20. #20
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    Getting back to the original question, I don't think drivers are hostile to cyclists in CA. If anything it's the opposite, probably because there are more cyclists around so drivers are more used to them. The urban centers, beach towns, and college towns at least have more cyclists than most of the US.

    In general I find CA drivers to be assertive but not hostile, as drivers tend to be in the northeast. They're also more alert, orderly, and cooperative (alternate merge, know what to do at 4-way stops, etc.)
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