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Old 08-07-10, 10:09 AM   #1
brianinc-ville
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Do you notice more yelling when a new passing lane appears?

Journal of Speculations in Idiot Psychology, 1(2010):1

My town is generally pretty nice to ride around in. However, I've noticed that there're two locations where I fairly frequently get yelled at, and I think I've figured out what they have in common. I'm wondering if others have noticed this pattern, and whether there's any way of subtly shifting the interaction.

In both cases, it's a traffic light where the road comes into the intersection on one side as a two-lane and exits it on the other side as a four-lane. The light turns green, I roll toward the right lane at the far side of the intersection, some yahoo who was behind me then moves left into the passing lane and yells something unintelligible as he passes.

This doesn't happen at four-lane to four-lane intersections, nor two-lane to two-lane. It's something about the sudden appearance of a new passing lane that brings out the @$$hole in people. I think it's the opportunity for a quick getaway that does it.

At a four-lane to four-lane intersection, they actually have to stand still next to me in the left lane and look me in the eye, which they're apparently too chicken to do; if they're behind me in the right lane and want to pass they have to deal with the traffic that's already in the left lane and that keeps them busy. Similarly, at a two-lane to two-lane they have to move into the oncoming lane to pass and that keeps them occupied. But at a two-lane to four-lane they see an opportunity for a fast break and this apparently means they should get all antisocial. (I don't race bikes, so I don't know whether people on bikes do the same thing to other people on bikes in a fast-break situation. Do they?)

I'm kind of fascinated by the psychology of road interaction, and am wondering if anyone has figured out a good way to head off this behavior. No snark, please.
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Old 08-07-10, 10:12 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
I'm kind of fascinated by the psychology of road interaction, and am wondering if anyone has figured out a good way to head off this behavior. No snark, please.
I'm somewhat fascinated by this also. I have not noticed more yelling when a new lane appears, but I also don't come across this situation often either.

Most yellers /honkers I encounter do so when I take the lane on high speed roads. They may not have even been held up by me at all. I think they are just trying to tell me they feel I shouldn't be there. They almost always follow and / or pass me in a safe manner, so I just ignore them.

Some yellers do so because they were momentarily held up by me. It seems these folks are more likely to be patient when there is no one behind them. When they have other drivers behind them they feel more pressure to keep up speed. I have had co workers tell me this.

As far as I can tell, the only way to head this off is to not be there.
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Old 08-08-10, 01:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
Journal of Speculations in Idiot Psychology, 1(2010):1


In both cases, it's a traffic light where the road comes into the intersection on one side as a two-lane and exits it on the other side as a four-lane. The light turns green, I roll toward the right lane at the far side of the intersection, some yahoo who was behind me then moves left into the passing lane and yells something unintelligible as he passes.


I'm kind of fascinated by the psychology of road interaction, and am wondering if anyone has figured out a good way to head off this behavior. No snark, please.
Maybe you should turn around and look them in the eyes? See if that helps?

On occasion when I look back at a honker they stop. I do this mostly to Identify them if I need to.
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Old 08-08-10, 12:29 PM   #4
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Maybe you should turn around and look them in the eyes? See if that helps?

On occasion when I look back at a honker they stop. I do this mostly to Identify them if I need to.
See, that's the thing: I can't turn around and look at them in the eye, because by the time they start yelling they're next to me on the left and by the time I can react they're ahead of me. That's why I'm thinking this particular type of intersection encourages bullying -- the biker really can't riposte.

On the other hand, I might try turning around to look the driver behind me in the eye whenever I'm stopped at one of those two lights -- no matter who's there, but particularly if they match the profile (pickup / lowered Honda full o' white boys) -- and see if it makes a difference when the light changes. Hmm.

(Just to clarify: I'm a white boy myself, and mean nothing racially inflammatory by that name. It's just that physical description is all I have to go on, out there.)

Last edited by brianinc-ville; 08-08-10 at 12:32 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 08-08-10, 02:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
Journal of Speculations in Idiot Psychology, 1(2010):1

My town is generally pretty nice to ride around in. However, I've noticed that there're two locations where I fairly frequently get yelled at, and I think I've figured out what they have in common. I'm wondering if others have noticed this pattern, and whether there's any way of subtly shifting the interaction.

In both cases, it's a traffic light where the road comes into the intersection on one side as a two-lane and exits it on the other side as a four-lane. The light turns green, I roll toward the right lane at the far side of the intersection, some yahoo who was behind me then moves left into the passing lane and yells something unintelligible as he passes.

This doesn't happen at four-lane to four-lane intersections, nor two-lane to two-lane. It's something about the sudden appearance of a new passing lane that brings out the @$$hole in people. I think it's the opportunity for a quick getaway that does it.

At a four-lane to four-lane intersection, they actually have to stand still next to me in the left lane and look me in the eye, which they're apparently too chicken to do; if they're behind me in the right lane and want to pass they have to deal with the traffic that's already in the left lane and that keeps them busy. Similarly, at a two-lane to two-lane they have to move into the oncoming lane to pass and that keeps them occupied. But at a two-lane to four-lane they see an opportunity for a fast break and this apparently means they should get all antisocial. (I don't race bikes, so I don't know whether people on bikes do the same thing to other people on bikes in a fast-break situation. Do they?)

I'm kind of fascinated by the psychology of road interaction, and am wondering if anyone has figured out a good way to head off this behavior. No snark, please.
I used to get yelled at when I gave motorists room to pass me in the same lane. When I started 'taking the lane', motorists stopped hassling me. Because they had to worry about oncoming traffic when passing me.
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Old 08-08-10, 02:42 PM   #6
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No, I've never noticed it.
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Old 08-09-10, 11:37 AM   #7
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That's part of the mentality of drivers who absolutely cannot stand to follow another car. If another lane appears, sixty five of them immediately want to pull over and pass others on the right; if you're there, the minuscule additional delay is a big deal!

I see the opposite situation in play on my commute, where a busy four lane arterial pinches down to 2 lanes going into a rural area. There's a stop light about a quarter of a mile before the great squeeze, and I'm always amazed at the number of drivers who absolutely have to floor it and get ahead of everyone else, then panic brake (slowing everyone else down) as they try to merge back into traffic where the outside lane quits. I see this every day.
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Old 08-09-10, 12:15 PM   #8
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Old 08-09-10, 01:22 PM   #9
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Conversational yelling at cyclists can only happen when it's not hard to pass. If risk/inconvenience/delay was really a factor there would not be time for motorists to make a point verbally.
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Old 08-09-10, 03:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by brianinc-ville View Post
Journal of Speculations in Idiot Psychology, 1(2010):1
I haven't noticed the pattern you mention, and this might have something to do with the fact that I can't (off the top of my head) think of an intersection that does this. On the other hand, where might I find past editions of this journal...? It sounds particularly interesting.
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