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Old 02-24-05, 10:46 AM   #1
thechrisproject
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Tapping cars

Last night I was riding home on a 4 lane (two each way) road in my neighborhood. During the day you can park on the sides, but during rush hour there is no parking. I was riding home during rush hour yesterday, staying in the right lane at about the right tire tread (3-4 feet from curb). Most people will switch lanes to pass me. Some will go mostly into the left lane. This doesn't bother me too much, as there is still usually at least 5 feet between my bike and the car passing me.

Last night a woman woman in a big Explorer passed me with about 1 foot of clearance. I slapped her rear quarter panel as she went by. I wasn't angry, I didn't flip her off, and I didn't chase her down or anything (I've done that before, and decided it was pretty stupid). I just wanted her to know that... I don't know. What did I want her to know? She must've known I was there; it was daylight, I was wearing a white jacket. I suppose I wanted her to know that her passing me wasn't very safe. I don't know if it effectively communicated that, but I hope she at least thought about it. "Why did that guy slap my car?" Perhaps she will just determine that I'm an idiot, but perhaps she will examine her driving technique and find it lacking.

So... should I refrain from doing this in the future?
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Old 02-24-05, 10:56 AM   #2
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You were commuting without a handgun? I would have waited until she passed, and then shot her tires out.

Not really.
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Old 02-24-05, 10:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Beerman
You were commuting without a handgun? I would have waited until she passed, and then shot her tires out.

Not really.
I left it at work. I might start commuting with a knife between my teeth.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:02 AM   #4
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She probably didn't even see you or notice the tap. She was probably yapping on her cell phone or changing the DVD for the kids in back. I don't tap cars in my neighborhood because you never know who's packing. I figure karma will catch up to them sooner or later.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:03 AM   #5
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I think that's alright. It's gotta make the driver think, "I was close enough for him to touch my car, maybe that's too close." She probably just doesn't realize how wide her SUV is.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:04 AM   #6
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I left it at work. I might start commuting with a knife between my teeth.
Yeah, get a really big Rambo Knife. That'll send em a message for sure.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:07 AM   #7
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It also might make her worried she hit you (if she didn't see you slap the car, but just heard the noise. Maybe she should be worried at only 1 foot of clearance. &*$# SUVs.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:25 AM   #8
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I feel your pain. I don't know how effective it is, though. The wise need no instruction and the ignorant can't be made to learn. More than likely the oblivious person doesn't even know you slapped the car, but just thinks "What is that noise?"

I have slapped cars myself when they've done something wildly stupid. You may get a lot of "you shouldn't do that" replies here, but I don't see a huge problem with letting somebody know you're there. I'm not sure it is a highly effective action, but in situations such as the one you describe there isn't really a very effective option available. Assuming they are able to connect the dots and know where the noise came from, it does at least let somebody know they came very close to you.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:37 AM   #9
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I usually find that when cars pass with a speed differental that allows for reaching out and tapping car, then they are not too close given the relative speeds.

Its only when car pass this close when they are at 45-50mph that it bugs me, but there is no way I could have quick enough reflexes in these cases to slap them.

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Old 02-24-05, 11:50 AM   #10
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I've had a very similiar thing happen to me. I was riding with two other people (brothers) and one was behind me, the other in front of me. We were going through the center of a nearby town where the road is two lanes (one in each direction) with a shoulder big enough to easily park cars in (since that is what it is used for). Since the shoulder was empty, we were riding in it, and we begin nearing a side street (opposite side of the road). So a car heading our direction slows down to make the left hand turn. A car comes up behind and proceeds to pass the car by going into the shoulder. Only problem is, the three of us are in the shoulder. The car nearly takes us all out (we have to swear towards the curb to avoid being hit - luckily the shoulder was bigger then most otherwise we would have been toast). I yell and hit the rear of the car with my hand while the guy ahead of me slaps the passenger side window really hard and yells out obscenities. Pretty close call, but what the driver was thinking swerving into the shoulder where there are three cyclists is beyond me.
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Old 02-24-05, 11:54 AM   #11
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Florida Traffic code says a vehicle, when overtaking another vehicle, has to have a 3 foot or 1 meter clearance minimum. My wingspan is about 6 feet so reaching directly to my side has to be shorter than three feet. I guess if the vehicle is close enough to touch, the driver is violating this traffic code.

I could have done this twice yesterday. Of all vehicles, it was a Brevard County school bus. I wasn't even in a lane. I was using the little 3 foot wide section of shoulder. The bus driver passed me with it's right wheels across (on the shoulder side) the white line seperating the right lane from the shoulder. I figured it was a fluke and besides, I was still alive. Unfortunately, the same bus caught me again and did the same thing. Somebody in the front seat passenger side actually raised up and looked back to see what I was going to do. I have the number to the bus and the times it was happening. If it occurs again, I will contact the county school system and report it (assuming I don't get run over next time).

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Old 02-24-05, 11:54 AM   #12
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I've slapped a few cars. mostly in intersections where they like to cut across my path without looking. my philosophy is to save my ass first and if there's time left after that to give them a slap, game on. never had anyone chase after me or anything. but my friend did have a gun pulled on him for flipping someone off.

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Old 02-24-05, 12:20 PM   #13
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I have hit a few cars myself but normaly I just yell real loud and I can really YELL,,the drivers have this look when I do >> oh I normal swear too ,..........Steeker
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Old 02-24-05, 12:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tippy
Florida Traffic code says a vehicle, when overtaking another vehicle, has to have a 3 foot or 1 meter clearance minimum. My wingspan is about 6 feet so reaching directly to my side has to be shorter than three feet. I guess if the vehicle is close enough to touch, the driver is violating this traffic code.
tippy
Oh I know the law and I am very aware of drivers that break it when passing me on a near daily basis. The only point I was making is that when drivers pass closer than 3ft and it is dangerous they are typically going at a speed differential that makes it near impossible to reach out and hit the car (a bus does give you more time to react).

When I get passed in busy traffic that is going a slower 25-30mph or so and I am going 20-25mph I expect (even if illegal) to be passed closer than 3ft and I don't find it dangerous. I would say this is pretty normal in congested downtown type areas where cars and bikes are passing each other and pedestrians and other obsticals closer than 3ft.

Al
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Old 02-24-05, 12:24 PM   #15
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Do you think slapping the car is more likely to educate the motorist and change their opinion / behavior, or do you think it will be more likely to have a confrontational effect and antagonize relations between that particular driver and cyclists? Perhaps I'm cynical, but I'm guessing the latter. People get pretty possessive of their cars (especially the more expensive they are) and I'm inclined to think they'll care more about their car being struck, than about your rights as a cyclist. I'd speculate (and granted, I have no proof) that such actions would probably tend to harm their image of cyclists, rather than making the drivers change their behavior and attitudes.
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Old 02-24-05, 12:27 PM   #16
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My counsel is to use caution when tapping/slapping cars. People can get very strange and angry over such actions. You never know who is crazy, drunk, stoned, or all three. In fact, I'm guessing if they did something stupid enough to provoke a response like slapping their car, the probabilites are better than average that they will one of the above. Then, if they decide to rub you out for touching their car, all they have to do is turn the wheel and hit the gas....
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Old 02-24-05, 12:58 PM   #17
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A Dutch friend of mine told me that in Holland it was normal for a cyclist to slap the roof of a car that had annoyed them in some way. It is quite disconcerting to a driver. But my friend recommended that one only do it when the cyclist and driver are going their separate ways to avoid a confrontation.
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Old 02-24-05, 02:06 PM   #18
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I slapped cars all the time in Seattle, but now that I commute through South Central Los Angeles I've ceased all car slapping. It's just not worth getting shot over. Though by far the rudest and most dangerous drivers have been the USC students. I don't know if its kids being kids or the sense of entitlement to the world.
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Old 02-24-05, 02:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HigherGround
Do you think slapping the car is more likely to educate the motorist and change their opinion / behavior, or do you think it will be more likely to have a confrontational effect and antagonize relations between that particular driver and cyclists? Perhaps I'm cynical, but I'm guessing the latter. People get pretty possessive of their cars (especially the more expensive they are) and I'm inclined to think they'll care more about their car being struck, than about your rights as a cyclist. I'd speculate (and granted, I have no proof) that such actions would probably tend to harm their image of cyclists, rather than making the drivers change their behavior and attitudes.
I wrestle with this, as well, and I fully understand your concerns. However, how DO we constructive, tactfully, and assertively educate offending motorists? Deep inside, no one really takes kindly to being corrected, even when in the wrong,
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Old 02-24-05, 03:25 PM   #20
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In Boston, we throw roses at SUVs that pass us within inches;-)

Last week, in a close encounter of the turd kind with an SUV, I lost a Bell convex mirror mounted on a Cane Creek Ergo II bar-end. (I found as Bell advertised, this little jewel is shatter-resistant ;-)

Last summer. I was punched by an animal in an SUV full of 20-something animalia on infamous Lansdowne Street in the shadow of the Green Monster. I just let the big mo run the Eldridge Grade and somehow I didn't crash. Approaching the next intersection, the animal tried it again. Since I'm a lefty (mostly), I was able to give him a Sanchen chop. The enraged animalia slowed and swerved to sideswipe the Eldridge Grade but I jumped the curb on the one-way street and did a 180.

Last story. Winter of 2001, I was becoming an RVC (reluctant vehicular cyclist) after my son while riding in the Fenway was hit by a driver who ran a red light. The bike was totaled and my son now has a bionic hip. So in the dangerous Fenway, I tended to retreat to "bikeways/walkways" when commuting. One morning, an SUV driver jumped the curb onto a "bikeway/walkway" and drove head-on at my 2000 Marin San Anselmo. I forgot all of Ned Overend's warnings about squeezing brake levers and did a life-saving endo that landed me way down the slope of a snowy embankment. Gracias, San Anselmo. The Marin ended up looking like the Salvador Dali bikes on the BU campus that have been trashed after being locked too long to meters.


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Old 02-24-05, 03:28 PM   #21
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...... The wise need no instruction and the ignorant can't be made to learn.....


..... .....
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Old 02-24-05, 05:46 PM   #22
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The wise need no instruction and the ignorant can't be made to learn.....
you can only be ignorant once. After that its just plain stupidity.
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Old 02-24-05, 06:48 PM   #23
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I like slapping, tapping, and punching cars. It really depends on how stupid a move they may have done and how close to pain (death) they put me. I also try to have an escape route ready in my head if something may get a little out of control or not.
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Old 02-24-05, 06:49 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
I wrestle with this, as well, and I fully understand your concerns. However, how DO we constructive, tactfully, and assertively educate offending motorists? Deep inside, no one really takes kindly to being corrected, even when in the wrong,
I agree, it is a difficult dilemma that I admit I don't have an answer to. In moments of anger, I have resorted to internationally recognized single finger salutes that convey the message, but have no positive impact... In moments of self-restraint I may just wave my hand in a "palms up" manner as if to ask, "What was up with that bone head move?" I may feel better temporarily, but I doubt either of these gestures make a lasting, constructive impact. I think that at times like these, the best I can hope for is to not antagonize the situation and to maybe get my point across without making it worse for the next cyclist the driver encounters down the road. If you find any good answers, I'm certainly willing to hear about them!
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Old 02-24-05, 07:32 PM   #25
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Slap a car the wrong way and you could end up with a broken hand. I've slapped a few cars. Most of the time it was to push off to keep my distance. I did slap the hood of a very slow moving car that was holding up a line of cars along an admittadly senic street with beautiful historic houses on one side and an equally beautiful vista of the river and nearby islands on the other side. I passed the line and slapped the uberslow car on the hood as I past to get his attention.
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