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  1. #1
    Senior Member blankgen's Avatar
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    Self defense and cycling?

    I've been thinking about the best way to defend myself after an encounter a few weeks ago in which a motorist in line behind me at a red light threatened to run me off the road or get out of his car to "beat my ass." I figured he was bluffing so I did my best to avoid responding to him (one of my new year's resolutions was to avoid escalating negative encounters while on the bike) and went my way when the light changed. Luckily he was bluffing and and ended up peeling out around me when the light changed (4 lane road). I didn't worry about it too much at the time but I've been thinking about it more lately and I'd like to have a better plan in the event that I do have to defend myself.

    Background- I am 5'8", 130 lbs and wearing road shoes with spd-sl cleats 90% that I am on the road so getting into a fight would likely be disastrous for me. Obviously my first course of action would be to get the hell away but the entire purpose of this thread is to know what to do when I can't.

    Right now my plan is to grab my frame pump or u-lock and strike as soon as the other person makes a move. If I had my u-lock I would target hands and arms because I figure that most people would stop after shattering a hand. I don't think that I would swing for someone's head because I don't know how I would stand legally if I actually connected, not to mention most people protect their heads first. Beyond that I have no idea what to do so if anyone has any advice regarding how to defend oneself while on rides then I'd like to know what to do.

    P.S. I won't carry a ***

    edit: My search is working now and I found some useful stuff so I don't know if this is necessary anymore...
    Last edited by blankgen; 03-17-09 at 10:30 PM.

  2. #2
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blankgen View Post
    I've been thinking about the best way to defend myself after an encounter a few weeks ago in which a motorist in line behind me at a red light threatened to run me off the road or get out of his car to "beat my ass." I figured he was bluffing so I did my best to avoid responding to him (one of my new year's resolutions was to avoid escalating negative encounters while on the bike) and went my way when the light changed. Luckily he was bluffing and and ended up peeling out around me when the light changed (4 lane road). I didn't worry about it too much at the time but I've been thinking about it more lately and I'd like to have a better plan in the event that I do have to defend myself.

    Background- I am 5'8", 130 lbs and wearing road shoes with spd-sl cleats 90% that I am on the road so getting into a fight would likely be disastrous for me. Obviously my first course of action would be to get the hell away but the entire purpose of this thread is to know what to do when I can't.

    Right now my plan is to grab my frame pump or u-lock and strike as soon as the other person makes a move. If I had my u-lock I would target hands and arms because I figure that most people would stop after shattering a hand. I don't think that I would swing for someone's head because I don't know how I would stand legally if I actually connected, not to mention most people protect their heads first. Beyond that I have no idea what to do so if anyone has any advice regarding how to defend oneself while on rides then I'd like to know what to do.

    P.S. I won't carry a ***

    edit: My search is working now and I found some useful stuff so I don't know if this is necessary anymore...
    Start taking classes in martial arts.

  3. #3
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    I carry one of these the 31"er


    One healthy strike one the femerol pressure point will drop most people. A good whack to the hand or arm will most likley break that bone.

  4. #4
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    It's a car, nothing short of an RPG is going to stop him if he was nutso.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dunningrb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmule View Post
    I carry one of these the 31"er


    One healthy strike one the femerol pressure point will drop most people. A good whack to the hand or arm will most likley break that bone.
    What are these things?

  6. #6
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    In any fight, the guy that hits first usually wins. Taking out a baton or other weapon takes away any element of surprise that you might have had. Any good streetfighter will easily overpower you and is now justified, at least in his mind, and possibly legally, to kick the daylights out of you because you came at him with a weapon.

    If you are going to fight, you have to hit first, when the driver is not expecting it, hit hard and often until the driver is immobilized, and then get out of there.

    This means that you're going to have to use your hands, but most importantly your head.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    Using a weapon (such as the extendable baton above) takes the charges that will be filed from assault (remember the hit before being hit rule above) to assault with a deadly weapon. Sad but true, even when you're in fear of your life, if you strike first...you will generally be the one charged.
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member SlimAgainSoon's Avatar
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    You've already got the best defense ... stay calm ... move along.

  9. #9
    biking and fighting!
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    I do Muay Thai and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I'm not quite sure how I'll be able to pull off a leg kick or cobra choke while in the saddle though

  10. #10
    Senior Member blankgen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    In any fight, the guy that hits first usually wins. Taking out a baton or other weapon takes away any element of surprise that you might have had. Any good streetfighter will easily overpower you and is now justified, at least in his mind, and possibly legally, to kick the daylights out of you because you came at him with a weapon.

    If you are going to fight, you have to hit first, when the driver is not expecting it, hit hard and often until the driver is immobilized, and then get out of there.

    This means that you're going to have to use your hands, but most importantly your head.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
    Using a weapon (such as the extendable baton above) takes the charges that will be filed from assault (remember the hit before being hit rule above) to assault with a deadly weapon. Sad but true, even when you're in fear of your life, if you strike first...you will generally be the one charged.
    Thanks, this is the kind of thing that I was looking for. And I'm considering starting some martial arts but right now I'd have to cut back on cycling to do so which would defeat the purpose of it for me.

    Would it really be better to forgo using a weapon in the event that a driver was clearly attacking me first? Keep in mind that I have a "climber's physique" and no fighting experience so I am pretty certain that I would be seriously injured if I tried to depend on my hands. Are there any other bike related techniques? Like maybe things that bike cops would learn to do when dealing with threatening persons? Bike as a shield?

  11. #11
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    I no longer work at the place I had to commute to, a very dangerous crack/gang
    area, that I suffered an attempted attack and constant "HEY, GIMME BACK MY
    BIKE" nonsense, but afterward, I carried a 800,000 volt stun ***, 13" switchblade
    and thought about a waterbottle full of ammonia.

  12. #12
    Rumblefish jtarver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blankgen View Post
    Thanks, this is the kind of thing that I was looking for. And I'm considering starting some martial arts but right now I'd have to cut back on cycling to do so which would defeat the purpose of it for me.

    Would it really be better to forgo using a weapon in the event that a driver was clearly attacking me first? Keep in mind that I have a "climber's physique" and no fighting experience so I am pretty certain that I would be seriously injured if I tried to depend on my hands. Are there any other bike related techniques? Like maybe things that bike cops would learn to do when dealing with threatening persons? Bike as a shield?
    Indeed, bike cops place their bike between themselves and a threat. I suggest carrying a simple whistle, a few shrill blows and anyone will want to be further away from you. Plus, people perceive a whistle the same way they do a siren, it has some Pavlovian component to it. I gave one to a friend who was being heckled by bums on her late night ride home. She said it works like a charm. Most people hate having attention called to themselves when they're being an aggressive jerk. Avoid physical conflict, as I assume a cyclist would be charged as the cops would probably assume their actions led to the altercation in the first place.
    1973 Crescent Pepita FG, 1987 Panasonic DX-4000, 1991 Trek 1400 FG, 1990's Gary Fisher Hoo-Koo-e-Koo SS, 1990's Denti Road Tech Five, 2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker

  13. #13
    Senior Member ritepath's Avatar
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    Everyone on here has me thinking I need to start packing something. Maybe I'll just return to riding jeeps instead.
    Harmony, Spirit, Way

  14. #14
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Thanks all there have been some interesting helpful comments here. I carried something similar to those 'batons' when I was in central america; the furthest I had to go was to hop off my bike and extend them to their full length and the two guys ran.

    Don't forget that haulin' ass out of there works on the Serengeti and can work for you too. You really need to have alot of confidence and poise to allow an encounter to get to the phsyical level; and one problem with 'winning' a fight is that it is not necessarily gonna be the end of the matter (legally, or otherwise), if the wupped folks have buddies who can harass ya on your bike at some later date.

    From what people tell me cops in urban areas are not that sympathetic to claims by a cyclist that they are harassed or nearly robbed or whatever. Besides the obvious fact that cops are overwhelmed, to me the more likely explanation is that they are in cahoots with alot of these thugs; either laying low in an informal 'i won't hassle you if you don't hassle local business' arrangements, or outright on the take if these cops get a cut of their drug deals and whatever else.

    When I was on my world tour in areas where these types of difficulties would have no chance in hell of being resolved amiably, I just kept reminding myself to keep it all in perspective...how much the bike was worth, how much hassle it would have been to complete rebuild for my tour; etc. It helped keep my temper in control in the several incidents I had over those two years, none of which, it turned out, ended up serious.

    roughstuff
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Blanchje's Avatar
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    I guess there's an advantage after all to being a 6'2" 225# Clyde

  16. #16
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Another thing that I feel comfortable with is to look
    crazy or 'off' a little bit. I never wore bycra or stuff
    that looked purposeful like I had money. Just work
    cloths, fatigues, etc.....If they think you might be one
    of 'them', you/ I get bothered less.

  17. #17
    HenryL HenryL's Avatar
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    1. Take out cell phoe
    2. Dial 911
    3. I'm at (give location) individual in vehicle (provide description and plate number) has threatened to (repeat words exactly) I fear for my safety
    4. Pull to side and await police response.
    5. If individual steps out of car, use bike as shield or weapon.
    6. When police respond, file complaint, if officer refuses to take complaint, ask for directions to dept headquarters and escalate up the chain of command.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blanchje View Post
    I guess there's an advantage after all to being a 6'2" 225# Clyde
    Not if you are being chased up a hill.

    Speedo
    6'3" 210

  19. #19
    Sledge Hammer FightingPanther's Avatar
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    Keep the wheels moving

    Make a quick right on red or jump up onto a sidewalk, if your mobile and they are stuck in traffic or otherwise halted, you have the ability to escape no matter what is said.

    I should think that breaking a small law like right on red or even running the red if its clear is forgiven to escape a potential assult
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."
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  20. #20
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FightingPanther View Post
    Keep the wheels moving

    Make a quick right on red or jump up onto a sidewalk, if your mobile and they are stuck in traffic or otherwise halted, you have the ability to escape no matter what is said.

    I should think that breaking a small law like right on red or even running the red if its clear is forgiven to escape a potential assult
    Aha! In fact this reminds me of one of my most effective techniques. You can pull a U-turn alot faster than a car can; or you can turn the wrong way down a one way street. By the way this forces your harassers to really show their colors, since they might try and hide behind 'we were just riding along' as an excuse when/if the cops show up; but if they pursue you you know clearly what their intentions are.

    I got away from a cop in El Salvador (city) this way. The guy pulled his car over in traffic and was trying to get me to pay some kind of cash fine on the spot. I just rode off between cars (imagine ME snaking thru traffic! hahahahahahaha) and left him mumbling to himself. Never saw him again. DId the same thing in Hanoi (oops! Ho Chi Minh city....duhhhhh), home of the most corrupt cops in the world.

    I didn't have a cell phone, but when I was in the suburbs of Tehran some guys pulled up next to me and started offering currency exchange, and it was getting annoying, and i think what they really wanted was just US dollars no matter what it took. I grabbed my digital camera and took a picture, and noted the license plate number when they sped off.

    Lo and behold, around the next curve was a coffee shop with a bike club, and they spoke good English. So I showed the picture and gave the plate # to them. Iran is not the kind of place where ya want to catch police attention.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  21. #21
    Senior Member dunningrb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryL View Post
    1. Take out cell phoe
    2. Dial 911
    3. I'm at (give location) individual in vehicle (provide description and plate number) has threatened to (repeat words exactly) I fear for my safety
    4. Pull to side and await police response.
    5. Get the s*** beat out of you waiting for the police, who will arrive 75 minutes after your call.
    6. Watch perps drive away with your bike, while you bleed on the side of the road.
    Fixed, for commute-to-work situations in Birmingham, AL. (I lived there for four years.)

  22. #22
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    How about getting an Airzound, very cheap and lightweight and loud. However, I would just use it to defend my right to be on the road taking the lane. If I feel threatened, I think I would just make a u-turn!

  23. #23
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    kill or be killed. =)
    Florida Velodrome Association.
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    CAT-2. Road Bike: 2011 Specialized Allez SRAM Apex. .. and yes, I am vegan.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtgyk View Post
    Using a weapon (such as the extendable baton above) takes the charges that will be filed from assault (remember the hit before being hit rule above) to assault with a deadly weapon. Sad but true, even when you're in fear of your life, if you strike first...you will generally be the one charged.
    If a person stops the car and gets out to assult you instead of driving away that person has provided intent to commit a crime. I'll take my chances with the jury.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmule View Post
    If a person stops the car and gets out to assult you instead of driving away that person has provided intent to commit a crime. I'll take my chances with the jury.
    The cager could make up a story to the tune of "I thought the cyclist bumped against my car, scratching the finish. I exited the car to inspect the damage when he attacked me with his baton/knife/serotta/fists of fury/KeO cleats."

    In the absence of witnesses, I'd not place the first attacker's chances very high. Someone would have to corroborate your statement that the driver exited the car with a malicious intent.

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