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Old 03-23-05, 09:19 PM   #1
randya
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What is it about getting behind the wheel of a car...

in America (or anywhere, for that matter) that makes some people behave like jerks?


It only takes a few...if we could answer this question I think it would make a lot of the other discussions here more or less irrelevant, and go a long ways towards a solution to safely sharing our public roads...
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Old 03-23-05, 09:59 PM   #2
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They don't turn into jerks when they get in a car. They're jerks already.
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Old 03-23-05, 10:11 PM   #3
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I question the use of the word "some". I would think "most" is better.

I've just spent two weekends driving around in a borrowed work car organising Bike Week events (gasp and horror at the oxymoronic thought, but practicality wins out over principle).

I couldn't get out of the crewcab pick-up quickly enough. My back hurt, my breathing suffered, I put on over four pounds in weight, I found myself cursing other road users (for the same thoughtless they show when I am riding a bike), and there seems to be so much MORE traffic here than I remember the last time I drove (nine months ago).

One positive thing I did notice, I suppose, was the volume of traffic resulted in slower speeds, even on 100km/h limited roads (80km/h seemed to be the norm).

I also had to chuckle when a colleague who had driven from an outer suburb to the centre of the city for a bike breakfast, said it took him over half an hour. His origin was right next door to the main cycling corridor in this city. It would have taken me less time to ride door-to-door.
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Old 03-24-05, 06:37 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Allister
They don't turn into jerks when they get in a car. They're jerks already.
Yeah, jerks in control of 2,000 pounds of steel.
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Old 03-24-05, 09:58 AM   #5
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I disagree. I think that most car drivers are not intentionally jerks. I do think that many folks become innattentive, confused, distracted, which can give the impression of being a jerk.

Al
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Old 03-24-05, 10:12 AM   #6
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Yeah, jerks in control of 2,000 pounds of steel.

More like 3500-6000 pounds. Big SUV's and cargo vans can hit 8000 or so. Not to mention commercial vehicles....
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Old 03-24-05, 10:24 AM   #7
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Old 03-24-05, 10:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randya
What is it about getting behind the wheel of a car...
I've always found this pretty tricky, you really gotta work hard to match their acceleration off the line, but once you're tucked in nice behind em you can make really good time. Oh wait, I must be in the wrong forum...


My theory: they're dumb and lazy. But that doesn't mean we can descriminate. Lazy dumb people have rights too.
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Old 03-24-05, 10:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I disagree. I think that most car drivers are not intentionally jerks. I do think that many folks become innattentive, confused, distracted, which can give the impression of being a jerk.

Al
Maybe you drive in Podunk, USA..But in busy urban areas, about 1/3 of them are suicidal nut jobs...So, well-guess that means a majority of them are ok...I do not necessarily post this as a cyclists , but also as a motorist...2000 lbs steel crashing into my Jetta is not that much different than while on the bike..
what is the hurry in all that lane changing and illegal passing just to get to a red light before the rest..But,then who let red lights stop about 5% of all motorists...from a personal perspective..Driving is no longer fun..Since you have to worry about speed demons and nut cases...Like to think people are not automatically like that..Road rage is caused by disfunctional highways, that get you nowhere fast..
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Old 03-24-05, 10:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Maybe you drive in Podunk, USA..But in busy urban areas, about 1/3 of them are suicidal nut jobs...So, well-guess that means a majority of them are ok...I do not necessarily post this as a cyclists , but also as a motorist...2000 lbs steel crashing into my Jetta is not that much different than while on the bike..
what is the hurry in all that lane changing and illegal passing just to get to a red light before the rest..But,then who let red lights stop about 5% of all motorists...from a personal perspective..Driving is no longer fun..Since you have to worry about speed demons and nut cases...Like to think people are not automatically like that..Road rage is caused by disfunctional highways, that get you nowhere fast..
I'm not sure that Phoenix, AZ would count as podunk given its the 5th largest city in the US. Near-daily new stories are about red-light runners (one of the worst cities for that), highway deaths, agressive and criminal driving, road rage, etc. All those things you list above.

But I don't believe that it is because most people are jerks - actually it sounds like we agree. I also like you find that the problems are far more notable when you are also in a car compared to when you are on a bicycle.

Al
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Old 03-24-05, 11:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I'm not sure that Phoenix, AZ would count as podunk given its the 5th largest city in the US. Near-daily new stories are about red-light runners (one of the worst cities for that), highway deaths, agressive and criminal driving, road rage, etc. All those things you list above.

But I don't believe that it is because most people are jerks - actually it sounds like we agree. I also like you find that the problems are far more notable when you are also in a car compared to when you are on a bicycle.

Al
BTW Phoenix is the 6th largest city... as of 2002... I was actually quite surprised by this, as I thought San Diego was the 6th... but apparently more people prefer the desert than the beach. I checked this at several 'net sites. in 1990, Phoenix was down about 9th or so... thus has made rapid climbs in recent years... perhaps more afforable housing?

This whole issue of bad drivers doesn't surprise me... but it seems our local EC advocate doesn't notice it all... Since a number of sites on the net and the presence of armed road rage incidents still exist, I use this evidence as an indicator that maybe some folks just have a hard time with real facts at hand.
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Old 03-24-05, 11:55 AM   #12
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ooops, I actually checked:
http://www.mongabay.com/igapo/US.htm
before I posted but counted wrong, duh.

Al
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Old 03-24-05, 12:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
This whole issue of bad drivers doesn't surprise me... but it seems our local EC advocate doesn't notice it all... Since a number of sites on the net and the presence of armed road rage incidents still exist, I use this evidence as an indicator that maybe some folks just have a hard time with real facts at hand.
I don't find a conflict between EC and bad drivers. The danger they create is not worsened by EC, but actually improved if anything. Bad drivers tend to be the agressive go fast kind or the inattentive. The fast ones don't like the outside lane and they like being 'racer' aware of what is in front of them. The run red lights, they swerve thru traffic, etc. The inattentive ones will become more attentive of you if they see you coming before making a right turn in front of you. I believe that being more visible and being clear about intention actually is better than hugging the curb and making yourself invisible.

Al
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Old 03-24-05, 12:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I don't find a conflict between EC and bad drivers. The danger they create is not worsened by EC, but actually improved if anything. Bad drivers tend to be the agressive go fast kind or the inattentive. The fast ones don't like the outside lane and they like being 'racer' aware of what is in front of them. The run red lights, they swerve thru traffic, etc. The inattentive ones will become more attentive of you if they see you coming before making a right turn in front of you. I believe that being more visible and being clear about intention actually is better than hugging the curb and making yourself invisible.

Al
I agree with making yourself visable, but I also realize that these road kooks do exist... I also don't believe in hugging the curb... but I also believe that Bike Lanes can be helpful on roads over 45MPH. I also feel that some of these road kooks tend to be quite a bit more agressive to cyclists they feel are "in their way..." and their agressive driving behaviour can lead to accidents due to their manner of driving.
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Old 03-24-05, 12:25 PM   #15
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DO NOT MAKE THIS THREAD ANOTHER EC DEBATE, PLEASE!!!!!
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Old 03-24-05, 12:26 PM   #16
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I suspect that the more a cyclist expects to be given special pedestrian-ish consideration by drivers (perhaps because he thinks of himself as a pedestrian who happens to be on a bicycle), the more drivers seem to act like jerks.

I know this drives Gene nuts, but since I learned to ride vehicularly consistently, all the "jerk" drivers have seemed to disappear. Or maybe they just don't bother me anymore, because I no longer feel threatened by them? That's probably it. I feel like I'm in control in traffic, and am not at the mercy of anyone but myself. So what do I care if they act like jerks? For me, it's no longer an issue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Randya
It only takes a few...if we could answer this question I think it would make a lot of the other discussions here more or less irrelevant, and go a long ways towards a solution to safely sharing our public roads...
The solution lies within each individual cyclist (and driver, for that matter). You too can make the significance of the jerks vanish: Drive and cycle vehicularly and defensively...
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Old 03-24-05, 12:30 PM   #17
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DO NOT MAKE THIS THREAD ANOTHER EC DEBATE, PLEASE!!!!!
Nice try...
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Old 03-24-05, 01:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by randya
in America (or anywhere, for that matter) that makes some people behave like jerks?
Cars are the ultimate equalizers. People who feel suppressed or inadequate in other aspects of their lives feel liberated to finally behave assertively when enclosed in 2 tons of steel.

It's very helpful to realize this, because the next step is to see that this explains why drivers are like dogs... if you act like like the Alpha, they'll treat you like the Alpha (2 tons of steel or not).
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Old 03-24-05, 01:52 PM   #19
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Remember: 98% of Drivers rate themselves as at least "Above Average".

I got that off another reply on this forum and use it because it sounds fairly accurate to me. Of that 98% I'd say at least 30% are distracted, self absorbed or just not paying attention on any given point A to point B trip. Another 10% are just plain stupid.
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Old 03-24-05, 02:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
I agree with making yourself visable, but I also realize that these road kooks do exist... I also don't believe in hugging the curb... but I also believe that Bike Lanes can be helpful on roads over 45MPH. I also feel that some of these road kooks tend to be quite a bit more agressive to cyclists they feel are "in their way..." and their agressive driving behaviour can lead to accidents due to their manner of driving.
Gene - you didn't say anything about bike lanes, you said that EC folks don't notice bad drivers. I use effective cycling techniques because there are bad drivers.

With a WOL you are not in anyone's way, but on their visual radar. With a BL you are mentally invisible.

Al
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Old 03-24-05, 02:23 PM   #21
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I look at it this way, there are only 10% are jerks, but they find me all at once!!! Just look mean and then some of them will back off, but just take care!

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Old 03-24-05, 03:22 PM   #22
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DO NOT MAKE THIS THREAD ANOTHER EC DEBATE, PLEASE!!!!!
Too late!
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Old 03-24-05, 03:39 PM   #23
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a car's interior is pretty much removed from the rest of the world, it's a private space. when in a car, you have a seperation from the rest of the world that can make some people act very selfishly. most people behave very differently walking down the sidewalk than they do in a car.
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Old 03-24-05, 03:49 PM   #24
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To answer the original question, my theory is that it's the insulation from the outside. They don't feel the wind or rain on their faces, they don't feel the heat or cold, they don't hear the birds or even the revs of their engines, they don't feel the roughness or smoothness of the road. They are totally disconnected from the street except for the view through their windshields, as if they were to watch it on TV.

Which is why it is so easy for them to honk, rev their engines, swerve at you as just another annoyance and hindrance, rather than a fellow traveler and human being. And which is why, when you catch up to them at the light, tap on their windows, and ask what the problem is?, they usually act quite shocked.

[ahh! got beaten to it!]
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Old 03-24-05, 04:10 PM   #25
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[ahh! got beaten to it!]
you put it well though. i really believe it's the disconnect that causes most it. it's the same with domestic issues. when people retreat from the public and enter their own world, some pretty ugly behviour can surface: all from pretty "normal" looking people.
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