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Old 08-07-09, 10:00 AM   #1
stark23x
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Confrontation that scares me in retrospect

After reading some of the news stories for the last few weeks, my confrontation yesterday isn't sitting well.

Scenario: I rode on the road for 50-odd miles and took lanes, crossed intersections, generally interacted with hundreds of vehicles and it all went smoothly as normal. I act like they expect, I signal clearly and I get out of the way ASAP, and by showing respect, I generally get it back from drivers. For the last three miles home, I take an MUP. It dumps me three blocks from home, but one of those blocks is a six-way intersection. I am going through the middle straight-only lane, with a left-only to my left and a right-only to my right. After getting through the intersection I am bearing right through space TOTALLY unused by cars during this part of the light cycle, which leaves a lane and a half (the half lane is the bulk of this unused space) open for cars to pass me to get anywhere in the intersection they need to be. Never had any trouble at this intersection really...it's fairly obvious what I am doing, and that all drivers can get around me. Also, I always, without exception, catch the red light. The intervals are short due to the six roads coming together, and I have never, ever caught the green.

SO...I roll up the small hill in the center lane to the red. I start going slowly hoping to *maybe* not have to take my feet off the pedals. There are about four car lengths between me and the cars stopped at the light. I am dead center of the lane, rolling at about 5-6mph? All of a sudden a small, older blue pickup goes flying around me at 25-30mph, engine redlining to get the speed he needed. He left-hooks me and cuts in front of me then has to brake hard to avoid hitting the car in front of him.

To get to a red light.

I start laughing. Like, really laughing out loud and shaking my head. Well, apparently this enraged the driver, who proceeded to roll down his window and yell at me. In retrospect this was my mistake. I never should have reacted at all.

"F--- you man you're f---ing riding right in the middle of traffic, dumba--."

"I'm allowed to be here. I'm going straight. Where the hell else am I supposed to be?"

"F---ing a--hole, you can't just be all slow in traffic. Next time I'll..."

"HEY! It's the law, a--hole. Do I need to call a cop because you're threatening me?" At this point I reach into my jersey pocket for my cell phone.

Oh, did I mention that the light turned green? And Mister "You're blocking traffic" was pacing me slowly on my right, preventing me from getting out of the lane of cars behind me? He was BLOCKING THE #@$!ing TRAFFIC so he could continue to yell at me. Which amazed me, as that was his entire complaint to begin with. Other cars had to pull out around him *and* me on both sides of us to get through. The cycle of the light is 45 seconds, then almost four minutes of waiting, so they were trying to get through before they got caught again. I don't blame them.

He continues. "F--- you you little f--got. I'll f---ing..." Every time he started a threat I cut him off. Partially because I don't let anyone treat me like that in person. I'm not all that skilled at fighting, and I have lost way more than I've won in my lifetime - and I haven't been in a phyical confrontation in more than 15 years - but I will be damned if I let some pice of crap think I am the doormat that apparently the rest of the people in his life are. Bullys and me? We don't mix. At all.

I also cut him off partially because if the threat isn't actually articulated, psychologically the situation hasn't escalated beyond repair yet. This dickweed didn't realize I was trying to do him a favor...so intent was he on teaching a "f--got" a lesson about his road, apparently.

I cut him off with, if I may say so myself, is my fairly loud, large, intimidating-when-I-put-it-on professional announcer voice. I'm short, but I used to be in radio and voiceovers and I have a big, big mouth!

"HEY PAY ATTENTION. I SAID DO I NEED TO CALL THE COPS? I'M LEGALLY IN THE ROAD AND BESIDES THE LIGHT WAS F---ING RED. DO. I. NEED. TO. CALL. THE. F---ING. COPS?"

He said something else, all I caught of it was the repeat of "f--got." What is that? Why do drivers default to that insult? Gay men never really wore bike kit as fashion except in the frigging movies...the two are, in all actuality, unrelated. Why does bike kit = gay? Not that it would matter one whit if I was gay...Mr. Tolerance shouldn't be tossing bigot crap off over a completely insignificant traffic incident anyway, especially since he was 100% wrong. I just don't get it. I mean, I know Ricky from My So-Called Life once wistfully sighed and said "I wish I could pull off bike shorts" but come on, what are the odds that this road-rage-y jerk watch My So-Called Life?

So anyway...I simply repeated, as loudly as possible so as to attract the attention of every ear around with an open window "DO I NEED TO CALL THE COPS? DO I NEED TO DIAL 911?" This entire exchange lasted maybe 50 seconds...I know because the traffic opposite us began to move, which means the light had cycled and they now had the green. After this he just pulled his head back in and floored it away. I kept my phone out when I saw his brake lights at the corner of my street, but he was just stopping to LET A CAR CROSS THE ROAD.

So clearly it was just the sight of a bike that did it.

Odd little tag to the story: 30 seconds later as I approach my own block (a left turn for me, with oncoming traffic) I signal my intent to turn. A car was flying down the street at maybe 45 (this street is a huge, unbroken straight, and it may be residential but people drive like bats out of hell) was coming. I intended to stop and wait, but he slowed down, came to a total stop and waved me on. I waved a thanks and rolled home.

Nothing dangerous happened, and I didn't get the guy's plate number so I couldn't even report him for the threats in order to get his name in the system. My third major mistake of the encounter, I guess. The second was I swore...I know better than to antagonize jerkoffs like that, but I swear like a sailor on the best of days, so....I guess I just posted this to vent. And because in retrospect I realized he could be one of the crazies that we keep reading about, and the whole incident shook me a little. I'm still pretty damn new to taking the lane.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:13 AM   #2
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When they star to threaten and you have your phone handy.... say nothing and ever so calmly take a photo of the plate, and then say thank-you with a big smile. I know this will most likely grab opposing views but I'm a big proponent of sticking to my guns if I know I'm in the right. He sounds like the big mouth behind the big wheel, typically. Then call the cops and report him as a possible drunk driver...this will get a much better response from the police.

When they start screaming about ****** this and ****** that, for some reason spandex and homosexuality is linked in their little camo patterned flannel brains, I like to blow kisses. This causes such a homophobic snap back effect they are generally rendered speechless.

His reaction to your laughter just shows he knows he was being an asshat.

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Old 08-07-09, 10:21 AM   #3
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Off-topic: OMG Bubbles! Sunnyvale Trailer Park in the house. Love that show SO hard.

Yeah I definitely need to think faster in these situations. I'm thinking maybe of putting my bento box back on the bike and keeping my phone in it for quick access. Snapping a pic of the plate would have been really useful.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:26 AM   #4
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When they star to threaten and you have your phone handy.... say nothing and ever so calmly take a photo of the plate, and then say thank-you with a big smile. .....


I take a photo of the driver...i can always get the plate later. I did this when I was cycling in Iran on my world tour! Some guys were hassling me out of the passanger window for "change money? Change money? The guy took off at the first mention of the word 'police.'


A few minutes later, believe it or not, I found some Iranian cyclists in a cafe. They spoke good English. I showed them the photo (on my digital camera) and gave them the license plate, and they said they would take care of it.

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Old 08-07-09, 10:30 AM   #5
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I did this when I was cycling in Iran on my world tour!
Holy crap! Respect.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:33 AM   #6
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Yes a snap of the driver is indeed handy as well. Iranian version of 'taking care of it' = gee that doesn't sound ominous at all. The quick thinking doesn't always happen, I've been many a time..... 'dang, I shoulda, coulda....'

As long as you leave the scene unhurt with no physical interaction, it's all ok.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:34 AM   #7
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... camo patterned flannel ...
They make camo patterned flannel?
Where can I obtain this?
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Old 08-07-09, 10:39 AM   #8
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in the huntin' an' fishin' store 'a course
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Old 08-07-09, 11:28 AM   #9
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in the huntin' an' fishin' store 'a course
Head towards the Intimate appearal section
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Old 08-07-09, 12:05 PM   #10
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Head towards the Intimate appearal section
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Old 08-07-09, 01:13 PM   #11
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Well, clearly spandex and helmets == f**got. Because you know, the other sport where wearing tight spandex and helmets are common, american football, is so clearly populated with all f**gots.
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Old 08-07-09, 01:22 PM   #12
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So clearly it was just the sight of a bike that did it.
if there's one thing that any of us take away from this story, this is it.

not the behaviour of some other cyclists who may or may not have rolled a stop sign or some critical mass a month ago in another city. just the sight of a bike.
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Old 08-07-09, 02:02 PM   #13
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if there's one thing that any of us take away from this story, this is it.

not the behaviour of some other cyclists who may or may not have rolled a stop sign or some critical mass a month ago in another city. just the sight of a bike.

Get a bucket of invisible paint and problem solved.

Oh wait, this is the real world... nvm
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Old 08-07-09, 03:42 PM   #14
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As soon as he was blocking your path, you should have been dialing 911. The motorists are calling the cops on us when we are riding legally, the least we can do is inform them about the illegal aggressive driving directed towards us.
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Old 08-07-09, 04:58 PM   #15
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"I start going slowly hoping to *maybe* not have to take my feet off the pedals. There are about four car lengths between me and the cars stopped at the light. I am dead center of the lane, rolling at about 5-6mph?"

You should just ride up and stop. Don't creep at low speed in the lane. You're forcing the vehicle behind you to creep along at low speed too - not good.
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Old 08-07-09, 05:12 PM   #16
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"I start going slowly hoping to *maybe* not have to take my feet off the pedals. There are about four car lengths between me and the cars stopped at the light. I am dead center of the lane, rolling at about 5-6mph?"

You should just ride up and stop. Don't creep at low speed in the lane. You're forcing the vehicle behind you to creep along at low speed too - not good.
Agreed. I realized that when I re-read my post...this was my primary mistake. This is not that kind of intersection, and it was a bad decision on my part. I don't know if the guy would have went off anyway even if I was at a complete stop as he would still have been "slowed down" behind me, but you're right. I should do exactly as you described. And I will in the future. Just get in line like a car and wait. If I want to be treated like a vehicle I need to act like one.
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Old 08-07-09, 06:53 PM   #17
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Agreed. I realized that when I re-read my post...this was my primary mistake. This is not that kind of intersection, and it was a bad decision on my part. I don't know if the guy would have went off anyway even if I was at a complete stop as he would still have been "slowed down" behind me, but you're right. I should do exactly as you described. And I will in the future. Just get in line like a car and wait. If I want to be treated like a vehicle I need to act like one.
Just stop about 1 or 1/2 a car length behind the car in front of you. Then when the light turns green, you can already be rolling by the time the car in front of you takes off. This would also keep you away from the car exhaust.
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Old 08-07-09, 07:10 PM   #18
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You have a point about slow-rolling to the light; it makes logical sense, but we ARE talking about 'on the road'....

You handled this better than I would have; I'd have been off the bike, inviting the puke out of the truck for a little 'dance lesson'. Close Combat style.
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Old 08-07-09, 08:29 PM   #19
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They make camo patterned flannel?
Where can I obtain this?
Seriously, a large fabric store will likely have a couple of different camo patterns in flannel fabric, depending on the season. I was paralyzed by indecision when doing a small project last fall, choosing between an argyle pattern or pink camo.

Maybe that's only fabric stores in my geographic area?
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Old 08-07-09, 10:24 PM   #20
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Seriously, a large fabric store will likely have a couple of different camo patterns in flannel fabric, depending on the season. I was paralyzed by indecision when doing a small project last fall, choosing between an argyle pattern or pink camo.

Maybe that's only fabric stores in my geographic area?
Fleece too. Any good fabric store
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Old 08-08-09, 07:47 AM   #21
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Agreed. I realized that when I re-read my post...this was my primary mistake. This is not that kind of intersection, and it was a bad decision on my part. I don't know if the guy would have went off anyway even if I was at a complete stop as he would still have been "slowed down" behind me, but you're right. I should do exactly as you described. And I will in the future. Just get in line like a car and wait. If I want to be treated like a vehicle I need to act like one.
Unless we are talking a lot longer distance than a few car lengths, I respectfully disagree. I think you made no mistake in gliding up toward a red light. Motor vehicles can, in fact, save on fuel and brakes by doing the same thing.
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Old 08-08-09, 11:06 AM   #22
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SO...I roll up the small hill in the center lane to the red. I start going slowly hoping to *maybe* not have to take my feet off the pedals. There are about four car lengths between me and the cars stopped at the light. I am dead center of the lane, rolling at about 5-6mph? All of a sudden a small, older blue pickup goes flying around me at 25-30mph, engine redlining to get the speed he needed. He left-hooks me and cuts in front of me then has to brake hard to avoid hitting the car in front of him.

To get to a red light.
I had this exact same thing happen to me, only I rolled up to the drivers window and knocked on it. She rolls down her window, and I calmly explained how dangerous she was driving. She apologized and drove off when the light turned green.
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Old 08-08-09, 12:35 PM   #23
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You should have said "I'm going to call the cops".
Posing it as a rhetorical question wasn't working.
Some drivers are just nuts. Maybe one motorist in ten thousand will pull a stunt like that.
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Old 08-08-09, 03:12 PM   #24
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As soon as he was blocking your path, you should have been dialing 911. The motorists are calling the cops on us when we are riding legally, the least we can do is inform them about the illegal aggressive driving directed towards us.
I personally wouldn't call 911 unless it was an emergency. A car blocking my path (largely because I chose to participate in an argument) doesn't qualify for me anyway.
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Old 08-08-09, 04:20 PM   #25
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I personally wouldn't call 911 unless it was an emergency. A car blocking my path (largely because I chose to participate in an argument) doesn't qualify for me anyway.
Not an entirely fair portrayal of my experience. I was *behind* him when the "argument" started, and he swerved to the right to prevent me from getting away from his tirade, and he was attempting to actually vocalize threats. I was simply trying to make him leave me alone at that point.

BTW, If he hadn't driven off once we crossed the intersection I was *absolutely* going to call 911. If you saw the terrain you would realize that if it had continued just ten more feet...he would have become *extremely* dangerous to me and everyone else on the road. Which is why I was trying to impress upon him that his behavior was about to cause me to call the police on him.
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