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Old 07-23-08, 08:30 PM   #1
pannierpacker
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Encounters with angry drivers who curse at bikers, what to do?

On my way to the gym this evening I am riding on a 4 lane road, and I'm in the right lane (as far to the right as I can be), so the left lane is open. The road is 40 mph, no shoulder, and a sidewalk in very rough shape (bumpy), that passes many driveways, is narrow, and obscured by many tree and bush branches that the city has neglected to cut. A couple young adults roll up in a car honking at me and one yells out the window "Get the f*** off the road!" What can we do about these annoying drivers?

I yelled at them to pull over (so I could yell at them and tell them what's going on) but they kept moving.
The nearest street that gets me in the same direction that has a shoulder is a half mile away, meaning that my trip to the gym would take 3 miles instead of 2 miles if I took that route. This road goes right past my house, meaning that if I try to avoid it, I will likely have to add a mile onto all my commutes.

I wish there was something that could be done here. I'm not sure whether I should be angry at these drivers, the city, or both. The city could at least rennovate the sidewalk and turn it into a path, and maintain the trees better. Or even better, they could add a shoulder. Traffic wouldnt be impaired that much by reducing this road to one lane.

For the drivers... I'm tempted to do something to them. I wish I had a small rock to throw at their car or something. I don't want to hurt them, but I at least want to be able to reprimand them somehow. If they wanted to come after me, I could easily get away.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:37 PM   #2
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Never escalate. If the situation warrants further action, either call the police on the scene, or take down plates and do so later. Beyond that, it's best to just ride away. Getting into confrontations with people commandeering heavy machinery is a very good way to wind up momentarily angry and permanently dead. Not worth it.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:42 PM   #3
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I've been honked at before. I just keep riding. Throwing something at a car is a bad idea. It is frustrating, but there are idiots everywhere. I think it is best to ignore them if possible.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:46 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by pannierpacker View Post
On my way to the gym this evening I am riding on a 4 lane road, and I'm in the right lane (as far to the right as I can be), so the left lane is open. The road is 40 mph, no shoulder, and a sidewalk in very rough shape (bumpy), that passes many driveways, is narrow, and obscured by many tree and bush branches that the city has neglected to cut. A couple young adults roll up in a car honking at me and one yells out the window "Get the f*** off the road!" What can we do about these annoying drivers?

I yelled at them to pull over (so I could yell at them and tell them what's going on) but they kept moving.
The nearest street that gets me in the same direction that has a shoulder is a half mile away, meaning that my trip to the gym would take 3 miles instead of 2 miles if I took that route. This road goes right past my house, meaning that if I try to avoid it, I will likely have to add a mile onto all my commutes.

I wish there was something that could be done here. I'm not sure whether I should be angry at these drivers, the city, or both. The city could at least rennovate the sidewalk and turn it into a path, and maintain the trees better. Or even better, they could add a shoulder. Traffic wouldnt be impaired that much by reducing this road to one lane.

For the drivers... I'm tempted to do something to them. I wish I had a small rock to throw at their car or something. I don't want to hurt them, but I at least want to be able to reprimand them somehow. If they wanted to come after me, I could easily get away.
Yehuda Moon

He can show you how to add bike lanes to that 4 lane.

Also, forget about the rock. Use small chain rings instead
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Old 07-23-08, 08:46 PM   #5
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Honking, yelling and telling you to get the F off the road is probably assault. Get a plate number and call 911 if you want to do something.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:17 PM   #6
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Just ride on and ignore it. It's not worth ruining your ride for the sake of trying to shout down a few idiots. Contary to apparently popular belief, you won't convince them or enlighten them in any way.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:28 PM   #7
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I rarely have any problems. Make notes. I have called 1. The DAD, who was unhappy. Apology call was prompt. 2. The BOSS who wasn't happy.

And have simply ignored idiots. They've got the problem, not me. Eventually it will catch up.

Can you really defend yourself? I know cyclists whose past includes special warfare, boxing, etc. None of these folks pays any attention really. If someone really wants to pick a fight, a pumped up cyclist is the wrong person to pick it with in general terms.

Calling an authority person works much better.

Of course, in cities where everyone is a stranger might make that hard. I try to avoid cities. Here I can figure out who is who pretty quickly. Now if White Ford F150 and Cell Phone Escalade ***** would only commit fratricide and take Yukon Idiot and Town and Country What's A Stop Sign with them . . . . That would be a treat! I know where they live, but they're not worth talking to yet.


"Excuse me, but it's inappropriate and possibly illegal to swerve at me and yell."

"watcha gonna youmtufacter - me n my buddies gonna whip yoass."

Now, is that the scene you want? More difficult than you'd think to out accelerate hopped up teens on foot.


Let it be.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:36 PM   #8
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I've been taunted even while riding on the sidewalk! So, for some, it is not having to avoid the bicyle that triggers the agression, it seems to be the very sight of a cyclist. They all seem to yel "get a mmffphwnbte.....," or that's what it sounds like from where I sit. Still looking for the mmffphwnbte's every time I go shopping.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:37 PM   #9
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I am giving the car the finger before I can even think sometimes. I'm NOT saying it's the right thing to do, only that I do it sometimes. I'm not sure why but in some situations it's really hard to let it go and ignore the *******s.

I guess I can do better.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:53 PM   #10
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I am giving the car the finger before I can even think sometimes. I'm NOT saying it's the right thing to do, only that I do it sometimes. I'm not sure why but in some situations it's really hard to let it go and ignore the *******s.

I guess I can do better.
My problem too. Almost automatic. I think it's spring loaded or something.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:00 PM   #11
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This type of behavior from motorists usually results from ignorance (i.e. not knowing that cyclists have a right to ride on the road and control a lane) or impatience (i.e. someone is late and no one else matters to them). Neither of these things is something that you can really resolve with the motorist at the time. If they are behind you and honking, then at least they see you.

I would advise against escalating as well. I sometimes also flip honkers off instinctually, but this can lead to people trying to run you off the road, or worse. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but just wave them by and try your best to ignore them. Throwing something at the car could result in a few hours of jail time. I just take down plates and call the police if anyone gets too aggressive with me.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:11 PM   #12
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Nothing you can do. An idiot is an idiot if they weren't cursing you out it would be someone else. Most of the people yelling from cars are cowards and have no fear when running away at high speed.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:14 PM   #13
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Turn up your iPod.
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Old 07-24-08, 12:08 AM   #14
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Blow them a kiss, possibly get off the saddle and slap your butt once. Arguing doesn't do good, but people who yell at bikers tend to be the kind who are also homophobic. If it is in your route, follow him to the next light where you can give a wink.
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Old 07-24-08, 12:37 AM   #15
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Are you sure they were taunting you? In some states, including mine, honking to let a cyclist know you are there is recomended, if not required.

Doesn't matter who is right in any confrontation. What matters are the consequences. If you do anything else than ignore it and go your way you are bound to lose. Accept that rudeness and self-centered operation is normal no matter what machine they are operating. As the person who is least protected you are going to lose, period.

My experience is that most drivers are courteous and attentive. In fact the only accident I've ever had on a bike was when another biker turned his head to look right at me and ran right into me.

In short: Cool It!
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Old 07-24-08, 12:38 AM   #16
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Blow them a kiss, possibly get off the saddle and slap your butt once. Arguing doesn't do good, but people who yell at bikers tend to be the kind who are also homophobic. If it is in your route, follow him to the next light where you can give a wink.
"...homophobic." HOGWASH!!
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Old 07-24-08, 01:12 AM   #17
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This is what Critical Mass is for.
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Old 07-24-08, 06:08 AM   #18
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I wish there was something that could be done here. I'm not sure whether I should be angry at these drivers, the city, or both. The city could at least rennovate the sidewalk and turn it into a path, and maintain the trees better. Or even better, they could add a shoulder. Traffic wouldnt be impaired that much by reducing this road to one lane.

For the drivers... I'm tempted to do something to them. I wish I had a small rock to throw at their car or something. I don't want to hurt them, but I at least want to be able to reprimand them somehow. If they wanted to come after me, I could easily get away.
I'm going to venture a guess that you're pretty new to cycling, if this is really troubling you that much. The simple truth is that there are a lot of rude and selfish people out there. They think they're entitled to never be inconvenienced in the most minor way, and if they are (or they imagine they are), they feel entitled to express their displeasure in the rudest manner possible. You will encounter them while driving, walking, biking, standing in line at the grocery store, eating at a restaurant, in church, at the gym...everywhere you go.

You can go to the city, but you can't get the city to stop people from being rude, and creating one of those half-assed "bike paths" that's really a sidewalk in disguise won't help or make you safer. You can go to the cops, but they're not likely to take action just because someone yelled something out a window, any more than they would if a driver yelled something at another driver. You can choose to be angry, or not, but I'd suggest saving your anger for a situation where you're actually threatened. If that happens, get plate numbers and report it.
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Old 07-24-08, 06:21 AM   #19
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2 days ago was the first time I ever rode in traffic. On my 2 mile ride I got sprayed by a graden hose by a teenager and hassled by a guy in a pickup truck. Man I love my neighborhood
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Old 07-24-08, 06:22 AM   #20
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Ignore and move on.
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Old 07-24-08, 06:46 AM   #21
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I tried to engage every single one of them to fight me for the last 4 years to no avail.

I rather ignore now.
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Old 07-24-08, 07:04 AM   #22
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This doesn't have anything to do with the response you got (I'd ignore it), but....honestly, I would add the extra mile. First off, we're cyclists, we ride because we like it, right? Two miles is barely a warm-up, another mile will add maybe 6 minutes. Second, I really don't like congested roads with hard curbs and no shoulder, because there's nowhere to bail if things get sideways. Add in the driveways and obscured sightlines, and I wouldn't ride that route anyway, even if the drivers are blowing me kisses. That route sounds incredibly dangerous.

One of the most important parts of using a bike for transportation is learning that the best route is very often not the shortest route, and almost never the route you would drive. In most cases, there's a better way. In this case, there has to be a better one because the one you describe sounds awful.

My commute to work, for instance, is 4.5 miles when I drive. But that route totally sucks, so I add a couple of miles and make it a leisurely 6.5 mile commute on nice roads. No big deal and lower blood pressure.
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Old 07-24-08, 07:13 AM   #23
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Ignore it and focus on your ride.

I'm a confrontational person but... in the end, it's not worth it. I've ridden up on cars and spit on them, or flipped them off, or yelled.

It's not worth getting yourself pissed off, and the fact that they have a 2 ton machine to run you down with.

Just smile, and keep focused on the road.
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Old 07-24-08, 07:15 AM   #24
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I usually wave and smile at idiots.

But I never back down from them. I had one that after beeping and cursing, and me waving at him, stopped his car and started to get out just as I pulled up. As he is starting to get out of the car I had my bearspray pointed at him. I said calmly if he got out of the car I'd spray him. He got back in cursing the whole time, and left.
Do not back down. If you turn and run, and they decide to chase, you are in real trouble. So don't backdown. Often a coward who would back down if you stood your ground, will chase you in their car if you run. Crazy, dangerous people, are crazy and dangerous, whether you stand up to them or not.
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Old 07-24-08, 07:17 AM   #25
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2 days ago was the first time I ever rode in traffic. On my 2 mile ride I got sprayed by a graden hose by a teenager and hassled by a guy in a pickup truck. Man I love my neighborhood
Pepper spray.
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