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Old 03-29-09, 12:30 AM   #1
MrCjolsen
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Why does this hardly ever happen to me?

OK, I commute on roads about 4000 miles a year.

I take the lane when I need to.

Cars often have to slow down a bit for me. I share the road with trucks.

I ride in traffic.

Yet, I can count on one hand the number of times (in thousands of miles) that I've encountered verbally abusive motorists. I get an occasional honk. I think I got the finger once.

Yet nearly everyone I talk to (both on and off this forum) reports that they regularly encounter abusive psycho drivers that go ballistic at the mere sight of a cyclist on the road.

What am I doing or not doing?

BTW, very little of my riding takes place in the city limits of Davis - where I actually encounter some of the worst motorists of all.
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Old 03-29-09, 12:32 AM   #2
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Count your stars.
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Old 03-29-09, 12:49 AM   #3
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I've had very few bad encounters with motorists. I get the occasional honk from a car coming up from behind me but 90% of the time it's a bunch of teenagers.

I think there are some places that are less tolerant of cyclists than others. Here I'm far more likely to get the finger, get cut off, get honked at, get tailgated, etc. while in my car vs. on my bike.
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Old 03-29-09, 01:35 AM   #4
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It sounds like you're doing nothing wrong. Same goes for the drivers in your area. In all honesty, most of my commutes are uneventful, too. Drivers are mostly observant and respectful.

Of course, if something irritating or off-the-wall happens, I will post on it. "I had a nice commute today" doesn't make for a very interesting post. "Some ***hole almost ran me over and then flipped me the bird" is a little more entertaining. I think the tendency to post on negative events can create a skewed perspective on Bike Forums.
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Old 03-29-09, 01:59 AM   #5
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In over four years of commuting I can only think of 5 real incidents with truly aggressive/antagonistic drivers.

I can think of several other incidents that were more amusing than anything (The driver downtown who asked if I was going to move over and let him pass... when we were stopped at a red light, or the back seat passenger in an SUV that yelled out the window "Let's race!" ... I won. )

I can think of lots and lots of incidents where the driver was just clueless/unaware of what was going on around them.
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Old 03-29-09, 06:55 AM   #6
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I've had maybe one and a half bad experiences with a motorist, maybe a couple more if you count near misses that were someone just not paying attention but also not deliberately being a jerk. I'm not sure if those who report scads of abusive motorists have very different experiences or very different definitions of what a "bad motorist" is. Some people on BF seem as bad as what they accuse motorists of being, i.e., angry and threatened at someone else using "their" road.
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Old 03-29-09, 07:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen View Post
What am I doing or not doing?

BTW, very little of my riding takes place in the city limits of Davis - where I actually encounter some of the worst motorists of all.
I'd suggest if you want to up the frequency of abuse, you move to the deep south. Not only will you be a victim of more verbal abuse, you'll probably be chased by lots of dogs too.
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Old 03-29-09, 07:41 AM   #8
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Just depends on the attitude of drivers in your area, and also the sort of traffic you have, I think.

The last time I was honked at was I think 2007, once. I got yelled at this spring, but it was just some idiot high school passenger trying to startle me (never works).

My biggest problem around here is that people are too courteous, sometimes I can't get them to pass me even if there's tons of room.
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Old 03-29-09, 07:54 AM   #9
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I've had very few bad encounters with motorists. I get the occasional honk from a car coming up from behind me but 90% of the time it's a bunch of teenagers.

I think there are some places that are less tolerant of cyclists than others. Here I'm far more likely to get the finger, get cut off, get honked at, get tailgated, etc. while in my car vs. on my bike.
I agree.
Minneapolis remains quite bike friendly, but has an over-supply of aggressive ****** behind the wheel compared to other major cities.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:02 AM   #10
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I'd suggest if you want to up the frequency of abuse, you move to the deep south. Not only will you be a victim of more verbal abuse, you'll probably be chased by lots of dogs too.
Time and location... Time and location.

I find the best places to get yelled at are major streets without sufficient room for both cars and bicycles at afternoon rush hour.

But if you prefer to get stuff thrown at you, night time, say 11-12 midnight on major streets near bars and fast food outlets is better.

Being in the south has helped too. I rarely got the amount of attention in California that I have become accustomed to in Arkansas.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:03 AM   #11
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With tens of thousands of miles, hundreds of posters and all the other factors, the number of incidences are actually miniscule. I have heard one comment of "get off the effin road" in all the years I have been riding. I could have posted it here, but all that would have done is generate the usual, "I can top that story" and within two pages we would have been arguing about something completely unrelated.

Living in a blue collar working class, liberal part of the country most realize we need to get along to get by. Bike commuting is an excepted part of the community.

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Old 03-29-09, 08:14 AM   #12
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But if you prefer to get stuff thrown at you, night time, say 11-12 midnight on major streets near bars and fast food outlets is better.
Yeah, ride with the drunken fools and things can get sketchy. I don't think it has a lot to do with being on a bike.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:27 AM   #13
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I find drivers around here are much worse when I drive than when I ride. Everyone seems to have the mentality that they are late for something and have to get ahead of the car in front of them. However, I feel a predictable rider gains respect of most drivers.

Keep doing what you're doing!
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Old 03-29-09, 08:30 AM   #14
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The type of road also seems to matter. I rarely, get honked at, yelled at, etc on 2 lanes each way roads where cars can easily change lanes. Single road lanes are another story. If I take the lane, I will almost certainly get some feedback from a motorist.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:36 AM   #15
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You're obviously not angry enough. For starters, you should see all people in cars as THE ENEMEYy. In fact, you shouldn't call them "people in cars" or "drivers" but CAGERRRSZ!!!1!. Then you should start lots of threads about them interfering with your right to pedal at 15 mph down freeways at rush hour. There's a lot of stuff to fitting the BF "everyone on the road is against me" caricature.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:38 AM   #16
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"However, I feel a predictable rider gains respect of most drivers. "

That and I think the more serious you look, the more serious they take you. When I had a backpack and cheap lights, I got all kinds of yell and honks. I got a rack, panniers and some better lights and people just kinda relaxed.
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Old 03-29-09, 08:59 AM   #17
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A couple of things I have noticed, both as a car free commuter and a bicycle tourer. It does depend on the city and the amount of other bikes on the road, in my town I can count cycle commuters on one hand and all year commuters seems to be only me. I get honked at, buzzed and told to get on the sidewalk pretty much daily depending on the route. I go 20 miles away to my sisters place and none of this ever happens, more upscale community with a good bike infrastructure and lots of riders. My town has no bike infrastructure and many of the people on bikes you see are homeless guys picking up cans who invariably ride against traffic and do other silliness.

Here's a bit of a humorous example. Last year I did a short four day bicycle tour for a vacation. Tour was wonderful, I did about 300 miles total going through farmlands and tourist towns on the shores of the great lakes. Last day coming home I was thinking to myself about how nice it had all been, no issues with traffic, people stopping and asking how far I was going, one waitress brought me a piece of pie on the house because "I was gonna need the energy". Really a nice trip and I was impressed by peoples reactions. An hour later, I pull up to a rural stop sign, and stop (traffic present) and all the sudden behind me I hear an engine roar and insistent honking and as I cross the intersection a beat up old RV with a trailer full of offroad toys blows around me I hear the usual profanity and a big hairy arm sticking out the window flipping me the bird. 100 yards later I get the "welcome to Saginaw" sign and I am back in my town limits. Face it, the people in my town are under the assumption bikes do not belong on the road.
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Old 03-29-09, 09:19 AM   #18
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Around here - the more urban the area, the more likely you are to run into a less than tolerant motorist.
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Old 03-29-09, 09:26 AM   #19
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A lot of you have mentioned predictability. I think that's my strength.
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Old 03-29-09, 09:35 AM   #20
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Isn't Davis also one of the most bike-friendly places in the US? I also live in a rather bike-friendly area and rarely get complaints. I think things would be different in other areas.

Also, choosing a route where motorists can either get past you is key. If you ride in an area where drivers are used to cyclists, and avoid becoming a serious traffic flow impediment, I think the rate of problems is lower.
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Old 03-29-09, 09:53 AM   #21
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As I said, I do very little of my riding in Davis. Most of my urban riding takes place in West Sacramento, which I call "multicultural redneck." Lots of trucks, SUV's etc. Most drivers are either going to or coming from work (very industrial area).

Some of the worst drivers I've encountered were in Davis, the most egregious being a Honda Accord a few years back that seemed to go berserk because I wasn't going 25mph in a 15mph zone which was right in front of the police station.

I think the problem in Davis is twofold. First of all, you have a lot of very, very bad cyclists and pedestrians who think of the town as one big MUP. This pushes a lot of drivers to the breaking point, according to my wife, who not a cyclist.

Second, I think that the university brings a lot of people here who are the opposite of what you would find in a bike-friendly community. I'm talking about individuals who's parents send them to off to college with a Ford Excursion and the belief that wealth and size equals privilege.
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Old 03-29-09, 10:18 AM   #22
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I have had a few incidents over the years. 3/4 of them were aggravated by my temper. A majority of these were caused by a lack of sleep and\or food.
A few here and there were justified. I would say that per mile my incidents on a bike are quite a bit less than when I drove to work.
I tend to shrug things off more and more.
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Old 03-29-09, 02:51 PM   #23
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My actual per-mile average is pretty low, as well, but the incidents that do happen really do tend to stick out in my mind (and sometimes make the pages here at BF ).

Strangest to me, though, is that I may go many weeks without anything happening at all. Well, I'm seemingly always getting buzzed, but I've actually begun to accept that and even welcome it in a wierd way. If I'm being treated just as crappily by some drivers as they treat everyone else, there's a kind of perverse acceptance in that. I'd rather be accepted (even like that) than represent some unknown, dread "other" out there. But the strange thing is that I may go for long stretches with nothing much happening at all, and then have two or three (or more) wierd things happen in the same trip. Just coincidence, I guess. 'Ya pays yer money--ya takes yer chances...'
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Old 03-29-09, 04:08 PM   #24
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OK, I commute on roads about 4000 miles a year...

I can count on one hand the number of times (in thousands of miles) that I've encountered verbally abusive motorists. I get an occasional honk. I think I got the finger once.

Yet nearly everyone I talk to (both on and off this forum) reports that they regularly encounter abusive psycho drivers that go ballistic at the mere sight of a cyclist on the road.

What am I doing or not doing?
Same with me; fortunately my commute is an early morning, reverse commute, much though residential areas. I try to be polite to cagers, but my general strategy is car avoidance--ride when and where they ain't.

I once called a radio talk show that was dissing cyclists for breaking the laws and I used the example of the early mammals and the dinosaurs. Those weak but nimble mammals probably survived the powerful but clumsy dinosaurs by avoiding them. Likewise I may pass by a line of cars or proceed early through a traffic light change to avoid the cars and being trampled. Since I am usually far away from any motorist that might be irked, perhaps I miss the tirades.
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Old 03-29-09, 09:48 PM   #25
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Relevant factors independent of rider behaviour: time and location of riding.

Relevant behaviour-influenced factor: style of riding (i.e., assertive, confident, predictable, courteous).

The factors are probably adding up in your favour. It's likely a combination of your riding style and the relative bike-friendliness of your general location (and, more specifically, your route choice). Route choice is often a huge factor. Someone who rides a very busy and fast road with very narrow lanes may encounter all sorts of aggressive behaviours almost daily (and verbal is probably the most benign kind). Yet those cyclists who have the luxury of picking nicer routes may find most riding very pleasant and civilized.

You mention that most of your riding is in an industrial areas. Around here, such areas often have roads with wide curb lanes (to accommodate all the truck traffic). If that's the case, that could explain the relative ease of sharing the road there.
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