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Old 03-24-10, 08:58 AM   #1
AlmostTrick
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Dealing With Aggressive Tailgaters...

While fairly rare, I am occasionally greeted from behind by one of these drivers... like this morning on a narrow high speed (50 mph) arterial road that I need to take to get to work. This road has a very rough shoulder which is unridable, so I always control the entire right lane, which is about 10 feet wide. There are four lanes total, so drivers can merge left to pass.

Today, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade pickup thingy gets right up on my tail and starts honking. I ride this section as quick as I comfortably can, so I was going between 20-24 mph. He / she left less than a car length between their vehicle and mine, so I looked back and signaled for them to stay back, while holding my speed. (think slow / stop signal, with open palm pumping straight back several times) The driver never backed off, found a chance to change lanes, and passed me a little close while cutting back into the right lane and honking a few more times.

It seems to me there's not much more I could have done. Do you have any good techniques for dealing with this situation?
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Old 03-24-10, 09:11 AM   #2
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On a practical level, hauling out the cell phone & getting their picture works for me. Of course, this takes a bit of dexterity & places your phone at risk.

And I fantasize about a rack-mounted grenade launcher.
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Old 03-24-10, 09:19 AM   #3
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I generally just look back a couple of times (so the driver knows I've seen him/her/it) and keep riding. I usually save the hand signals for attempting to prevent unsafe passing (i.e., at the crest of a hill or right before a blind curve).
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Old 03-24-10, 09:57 AM   #4
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What you did. Maybe just the slow hand signal. I cruise comfortable speed and don't try and speed up. Such a driver is not going to notice the difference nor care between 22, 25 or 28.

The morons would be able to pass sooner and easier if they didn't tailgate.

Fortunately as you note it is very rare. It's been well over a year since this happened to me.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:09 AM   #5
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It's very rare on my current regular commute.

On another 6-lane arterial road I sometimes have to use, it happens on average once every two rides (so about once every 20 km).

I guess it could be the same drivers over and over again.

Last edited by ghettocruiser; 03-24-10 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:18 AM   #6
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On a practical level, hauling out the cell phone & getting their picture works for me. Of course, this takes a bit of dexterity & places your phone at risk.

And I fantasize about a rack-mounted grenade launcher.

And when ya launch that grenade, DT, you'd get a nice forward kick!

When someone honks at me under these circumstances, I usually just wave. NOTHING you do is gonna make em happy anyway, so ya may as well inject some mirth into the situation. I find this happens to me when I am first in a line at a red light and the guy behind me wants to turn right.

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Old 03-24-10, 10:19 AM   #7
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Pull harder and drop 'em
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Old 03-24-10, 10:23 AM   #8
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I find this happens to me when I am first in a line at a red light and the guy behind me wants to turn right.
If they use a turn signal and I have enough room to squeeze left and let them by without giving up the lane to the next guy that wants to go straight, I'll accommodate them every time. But only if I see a turn signal. I'm not in the business of guessing their intentions if they don't use one.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-24-10, 10:29 AM   #9
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If they use a turn signal and I have enough room to squeeze left and let them by without giving up the lane to the next guy that wants to go straight, I'll accommodate them every time. But only if I see a turn signal. I'm not in the business of guessing their intentions if they don't use one.
I pre-accommodate my stopping left in lane. Far left if a very common right turn location and/or narrow lane, but never over the line to my left.
Most drivers will still wait behind even with space to pass safety and if (and only if) I see their turn signal I will point to the pavement directly to my right. Some still won't pass and turn even after I invite it.
I've never been honked at by someone wanting to turn right when I am stopped.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:39 AM   #10
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smile and wave. If it happens a lot and it makes you happy, get an airzounds so you can say hello back to them!
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Old 03-24-10, 10:45 AM   #11
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Tailgating is very dangerous... getting out of an angry person's way and taking down a plate number is your best bet. Hope that your revenge will be served cold. Making them angrier could just get you killed.

If they aren't being angry about it, maybe they just don't realize how dangerous it is. A few calm words at an intersection might be helpful. Most people don't want the hassle of finding a cyclist under their front bumper if they stop and think about it.

On the other hand, I'd sure be fantasizing about lobbing a handful of pebbles over my shoulder in the direction of anyone who was harassing me... then hopping on to an off-road shortcut.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:48 AM   #12
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It is often not possible to get out of the way with narrow lane, curb to right.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:48 AM   #13
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That's a rough patch, it seems. Sounds like you handled it well. I think acknowledging the driver was appropriate. Sometimes I hold up one finger indicating please wait one minute. And then when I turn off I wave indicating thanks for waiting.

I've got a stretch like that but fortunately there is a traffic light involved at my right turn intersection so I get a jump on the cars (except for the few that are turning with me. I have in the past did the 3/10 mile stretch out of the saddle kicking it as hard as I can. It';s kind of a fun finish to the 13 mile commute. Fortunately this past winter during a flooding storm I discovered there is an alternative that is no longer in distance so I don't ride on Route 9 in Natick, MA until it's time to go home. Then it's the old story in the other direction.
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Old 03-24-10, 10:50 AM   #14
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What you did. Maybe just the slow hand signal. I cruise comfortable speed and don't try and speed up. Such a driver is not going to notice the difference nor care between 22, 25 or 28.

The morons would be able to pass sooner and easier if they didn't tailgate.

Fortunately as you note it is very rare. It's been well over a year since this happened to me.
Are you saying to eliminate the pushing back pumping motion? I like using a calm slow / stop signal in less threatening situations. When I feel threatened I like to make my wishes (back off) more obvious. I suppose this could escalate the situation with someone driving an Escalator though. haha
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Old 03-24-10, 10:55 AM   #15
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Yeah I just mean the slow signal. Long enough for them to see it, but no more. Just a calm response.
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Old 03-24-10, 11:26 AM   #16
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Sometimes I hold up one finger indicating please wait one minute.
Yeah, I've been working on making it the index finger. Takes discipline.
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Old 03-24-10, 11:33 AM   #17
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While fairly rare, I am occasionally greeted from behind by one of these drivers... like this morning on a narrow high speed (50 mph) arterial road that I need to take to get to work. This road has a very rough shoulder which is unridable, so I always control the entire right lane, which is about 10 feet wide. There are four lanes total, so drivers can merge left to pass.

Today, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade pickup thingy gets right up on my tail and starts honking. I ride this section as quick as I comfortably can, so I was going between 20-24 mph. He / she left less than a car length between their vehicle and mine, so I looked back and signaled for them to stay back, while holding my speed. (think slow / stop signal, with open palm pumping straight back several times) The driver never backed off, found a chance to change lanes, and passed me a little close while cutting back into the right lane and honking a few more times.

It seems to me there's not much more I could have done. Do you have any good techniques for dealing with this situation?
You did everything any reasonable person could have done. The problem is that you were dealing with an unreasonable person, so all bets are off.

As an aside, and I'm sure I'll get rebuked for this, but I don't believe I have *ever* seen an Escalade being driven responsibly. Not once. It's like the people who purchase them leave their brains in the dealer's safe.
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Old 03-24-10, 11:38 AM   #18
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It's very rare on my current regular commute.

On another 6-lane arterial road I sometimes have to use, it happens on average once every two rides (so about once every 20 km).

I guess it could be the same drivers over and over again.
This is where it starts to become rather annoying.

I have the same situation on a 35MPH road lined with parked cars... that I use within a mile of my home. There is no other place for me to go, and yet there is another lane for motorists. I have actually considered moving to the left lane when the motorist is not astute enough to do so themselves. Of course that move is highly dependent on the traffic in that lane at the moment. But I have had driving idiots do the tailgate thing to me when the other two lanes were empty. (that is the clear sign of a moron driver)
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Old 03-24-10, 11:38 AM   #19
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Pull harder and drop 'em
On a 50MPH road... man you are superman!
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Old 03-24-10, 11:41 AM   #20
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You did everything any reasonable person could have done. The problem is that you were dealing with an unreasonable person, so all bets are off.

As an aside, and I'm sure I'll get rebuked for this, but I don't believe I have *ever* seen an Escalade being driven responsibly. Not once. It's like the people who purchase them leave their brains in the dealer's safe.
No doubt. I got rebuked by one of those Escalade morons when I was driving my truck and slowed for a cyclist who had to move into the travel lane for parked cars... Classic!
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Old 03-24-10, 11:58 AM   #21
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Escalades themselves are irresponsible.

Most amusing (SUV City):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfpXULqYV7w
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Old 03-24-10, 12:39 PM   #22
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My first reaction is safety first. Anyone who taligate me that close will not be able to stop if I go down. Instead of speeding, I slow down to a speed where I will not take a fall if I hit a pot hole or get my tire caught on a slit in the pavement. Anyone who don't like that behind me have two choices, either pass me or call on their cellphone to inform the waiting party that they gonna be really late.
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Old 03-24-10, 01:03 PM   #23
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We had a cute one this past Saturday. Going in to Mont Clare on a 2 lane road there were 4 of us set up to make a left turn onto the main road into Phoenixville. While waiting for the traffic light we took the lane. A car pulls up behind my wife and starts blowing his horn for us to move over. When the light turned green we made the turn. We went about 100 feet and made a right turn onto a single lane park road going up to Lock 60. And who is right behind us? The same guy from the traffic light and blowing the horn again. We were supposed to pull off the road and into the grass so he could speed it up for roughly one half mile to the parking area. The punch line was that he had a bike hanging on a trunk mounted rack on his car.
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Old 03-24-10, 01:57 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
While fairly rare, I am occasionally greeted from behind by one of these drivers... like this morning on a narrow high speed (50 mph) arterial road that I need to take to get to work. This road has a very rough shoulder which is unridable, so I always control the entire right lane, which is about 10 feet wide. There are four lanes total, so drivers can merge left to pass.

Today, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade pickup thingy gets right up on my tail and starts honking. I ride this section as quick as I comfortably can, so I was going between 20-24 mph. He / she left less than a car length between their vehicle and mine, so I looked back and signaled for them to stay back, while holding my speed. (think slow / stop signal, with open palm pumping straight back several times) The driver never backed off, found a chance to change lanes, and passed me a little close while cutting back into the right lane and honking a few more times.

It seems to me there's not much more I could have done. Do you have any good techniques for dealing with this situation?
I had one just yesterday whom I thought that I was going to get into a fight with. I was probably less then an 1/8th of a mile from the library when some turkey in a red pickup with a cap or a smallish SUV starts tailgating me and blowing his horn. I just ignored him as best as I could, but when he pulled a slightly modified version of the ole swoop and brake I flipped him off. He pulled forward a little bit and braked again, and I again flipped him off. He then pulled into the parking lot of the rec center just south of pool which is just south of the firehouse, which is just south of the library that I was going to. Get's out of his car and starts yelling at me. As I rode past him, I again was flipping him off. I continued on my way to the library not increasing my pace or anything and turning where I normally do into the pools parking lot. Because it's parking lot, the firehouse parking lot and the library's parking lot are all interconnected. And headed right to the post that I try to always lock up to as it is one of the two that the security camera has the clearest view of and if he did follow me and try continue his harassment and/or start a fight with me I'd have it recorded on the library's security system that he threw the first punch.

Yes, I realize that a lot of it could have been avoided if I hadn't flipped him off, but likewise it could have been avoided IF he had educated himself to all of the laws/rules of the road and knew that I had a legal right to be riding on the road and not on the sidewalk.

Today, (again going to the library) I had some guy driving an independent delivery van pass me too close. He pulled into the library that I was headed to. As I was locking my bike up he comes out and goes to the van. I calmly walked over and let him know that he had passed me too close, and that Fl law required that he leave a minimum of 3' between us. He used the usual excuse of not knowing, and I resisted the urge to remind him that ignorance of the law isn't an excuse.
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Old 03-24-10, 02:06 PM   #25
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Yeah, I've been working on making it the index finger. Takes discipline.
Yeah, it does, see my encounter from yesterday.

But also to quote that famous early 20th century philosopher Popeye the Sailor Man, "Sometimes I've stands all that I can stands, I can't stands no more."
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