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  1. #1
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    Are drivers more likely to be rude to thinner cyclists?

    I have now been riding (as an adult) for eighteen months. Until this month I had not had a single encounter with a motorist that could remotely have been called "negative" and not a single dangerous encounter (intentional or otherwise).

    For much of that time I have been what would politely called overweight. More recently, I am now (while not thin), no longer larger than normal (aka, not fat). And I have also been encountered greater numbers of dangerous encounters (and even the occasional intentional obnoxious).

    Since I don't encounter many cars during my weekday morning rides, I still haven't had a bad encounter on them, but my weekend rides are becoming another thing. It is now a rare weekend ride that I don't encounter a motorist passing closer than needed (three lanes, light traffic, yet still partially in my lane) and I have now had three intentional near collisions caused by motorists...

    Since there has been no change in my riding style (or routes) I am thinking that the change in my physical appearance may be a contributory factor.

    So do you'll think motorists tend to be nicer (or more forgiving) to overweight cyclists?

  2. #2
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    I never noticed anything like that. Are you riding differently now? Is it the change in season?
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  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
    I never noticed anything like that. Are you riding differently now? Is it the change in season?
    Ditto this. I can't imagine your lessened weight is the cause of the alleged changed behavior.

  4. #4
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    I think you just got lucky before... not a bad thing at all. I don't normally post in here because it's not a forum for people like me but on this I can speak, the majority of people don't buzz me or cause me any issues, and normally you can see the butt hat's coming if you pay attention to how people act waiting for you at a stop sign etc...
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
    I never noticed anything like that. Are you riding differently now? Is it the change in season?
    No, I am not riding differently, my pace has improved a little, but not much. My attire is the same (though the sizes have changed); bib shorts and plain solid color jersey. The bike has been the same since April, though before that I was using a touring bike with a rack--which I still use for errands on occasion.

    The only difference I can think of is my appearance. I only thought about it this past weekend, when a friend came to town that I haven't seen for about six months. She was surprised at how thin I had gotten and couldn't believe I was still trying to loose weight.

    Other, than my physical change I can't think of any other change in me or my riding... The only other explanation I can think of is that perhaps the season just makes some people grouchy... If the problems abate in the spring that will tend to confirm that.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    Since there has been no change in my riding style (or routes) I am thinking that the change in my physical appearance may be a contributory factor.
    I don't know, any you may be on to something. On the other hand, do you think the change of the seasons could have anything to do with this...? People are tense because of the holidays, family obligations, the expense of Christmas, and all that. On top of it, the weather (here, at least) is getting nasty, and the days are short.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I don't know, any you may be on to something. On the other hand, do you think the change of the seasons could have anything to do with this...? People are tense because of the holidays, family obligations, the expense of Christmas, and all that. On top of it, the weather (here, at least) is getting nasty, and the days are short.
    Certainly possible--thats one reason I asked if anyone else had noticed the phenomena. Brings out the engineer in me, wanting to conduct a survey...

    The weather here hasn't been too bad though. But I do understand the holiday grumpiness...

  8. #8
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    Assuming arguendo the answer is "yes," what practical difference does it make? You are not going to gain wieght to eliminate/lessen the chance, are you? And obese, super-skinny or anywhere in between, you should expect and be prepared for rude drivers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Assuming arguendo the answer is "yes," what practical difference does it make? You are not going to gain wieght to eliminate/lessen the chance, are you? And obese, super-skinny or anywhere in between, you should expect and be prepared for rude drivers.
    Call it intellectual curiosity. In reviewing the complaints on this board, with my prior personal experience, I was inclined to believe that much of the complaining was caused by perception of hazard/behavior. Now I am wondering if the driver behavior may be driven by another factor.

    The end result, doesn't really matter. However, I am curious by nature.

  10. #10
    Neil_B
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    Speaking for myself, as a motorist I've not given more space to wider cyclists. I do have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road and stop looking at the bike.

  11. #11
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    There was the study in England on passing distances which found that a helmeted rider gets less clearance. Proposed reasons included that the motorist felt there was less risk if they were hit or that they felt those with helmets were more capable riders who would be less likely to swerve.

    The latter reason could also apply here if motorists (probably subconsciously) view the fit-looking cyclist as more experienced and likely to hold a consistent straight line.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    No, I am not riding differently, my pace has improved a little, but not much.
    In my experience, new riders tend to be a bit wobbly, look like they don't quite know what they're doing, ride slower, etc. I often see cars giving riders like this a wider berth than they would someone who appears to be more experienced. In answer to your original question, I've lost 50-60lbs and haven't noticed any difference in the way people treat me... but I live in an area that's very bicycle-friendly.

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    I have been wondering the exact same thing, as I've been experiencing increased hostility from motorists since dropping from 214 (May 2010 weight) to the low 140s this summer. It started in July, and it all happened in rural areas of El Dorado County, CA, with one incident a block away from home where some dumbass told me to "get off the road" on a side street with NO traffic!

    I wrote in detail about the El Dorado County incidents in this thread in the Northern California regional subforum.

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    I think that I remember that a study was done and a lady got more clearance when being passed. I considered getting some fake wig and attaching it to my helmet in the back like a pony tail.

  15. #15
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I think that I remember that a study was done and a lady got more clearance when being passed. I considered getting some fake wig and attaching it to my helmet in the back like a pony tail.
    the study said lady+casual clothes not cycling clothes gives you the widest passing room with motorists.
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    the study said lady+casual clothes not cycling clothes gives you the widest passing room with motorists.
    I'm a female cyclist who wears casual non-cycling clothes, yet I've still had the problems I mentioned earlier.

  17. #17
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    I'm a female cyclist who wears casual non-cycling clothes, yet I've still had the problems I mentioned earlier.
    I believe ya, but there's been a study or two
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    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    I believe ya, but there's been a study or two
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    Interesting. I read the BF thread a few days ago, so I'm familiar with that one already.

    Maybe if I was one of the "beautiful people" I would be treated better on the roads. After all, sometimes it seems like the women who fit society's narrow-minded idea of "beautiful" get treated better than the rest of us.

    Then again, I don't have the negative interactions with law enforcement that some cyclists have reported. Quite the opposite, actually. Maybe the LEOs figure us "ugly" women have enough problems and feel sorry for us.

  19. #19
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    ...Maybe the LEOs figure us "ugly" women have enough problems and feel sorry for us.
    You're not ugly.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
    You're not ugly.
    I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek with that comment, hence the raspberry smiley.

    You must have seen the videos my friend took of me climbing in the mountains, as those are the only images of me that I've uploaded.

  21. #21
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttraininguphill View Post
    I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek with that comment, hence the raspberry smiley.

    You must have seen the videos my friend took of me climbing in the mountains, as those are the only images of me that I've uploaded.
    There was the camera with a mind of it's own too.
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  22. #22
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    There was the study in England on passing distances which found that a helmeted rider gets less clearance. Proposed reasons included that the motorist felt there was less risk if they were hit or that they felt those with helmets were more capable riders who would be less likely to swerve.

    The latter reason could also apply here if motorists (probably subconsciously) view the fit-looking cyclist as more experienced and likely to hold a consistent straight line.
    This sounds plausible. If anything I'd expect a fat rider to get more hassle than a slim rider, if someone was inclined to hassle someone.

    When I'm driving I'll give cyclists who don't seem to be in good control of their bike a wider berth, simply because they are more likely to need it. I wouldn't buzz dangerously close to any cyclist but someone who clearly knows what they are doing and can clearly hold a straight line isn't going to need as much space as someone wobbling.

    Likewise when I'm cycling I've had a few situations where a motorist has looked to make eye contact to try and figure what I'm going to do (especially at times when traffic is slow moving and they have the right of way), and I've seen a positive change in their expression when they realise I am in control of the bike and am respecting their right of way.

  23. #23
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    When I'm driving and I come upon a skinny rider, I lay on the horn and scream out the window "EAT A BIG MAC, WUSSY!"
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrowell View Post
    There was the camera with a mind of it's own too.
    I forgot about that one! That was only a chest shot though.

  25. #25
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    No way to tell whether it is statistical noise or not.

    I've been riding since spring and have had only one minor car issue. I was riding in a town of about 5,000 people on a residential street with lots of room for cars and bikes both. A car came up and slowly followed a bit behind me for about a block, maybe about two feet from my rear end. It then pulled up and went around me. Creeped me out. Their windows were dark so I couldn't see in.

    I've had some kids walking or tooling along on their bikes look aghast as this old lady blasts past them in my black lycra tights and top. I never see women decked out in cycling clothes in this small town.

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