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Old 02-11-14, 12:39 AM   #1
treal512
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Is it a waste of time? I was sideswiped today.

Other than me needing to be even more cautious apparently, my question is; is it worth it to react / reply / or talk to people in vehicles when they do something to potentially hurt you, whether it be intentional or not?

For example, last week I had a lady swing her wheel into my lane forcing me to practically emergency brake so I wouldn't find myself on her rear driver-side quarter panel. This woman did absolutely see me, so this would be an example of knowingly making a driving decision either out of ignorance or carelessness. A good example of an unintentional incident happened earlier today when I had a guy take a left turn into the lane I was in. When he made the turn, he literally swung his car as far over into the right side of the lane as it would possibly go without hitting the curb and sideswiped me. I hectically managed to gain balance and come to an abrupt stop, but what then?

I'm a relatively new commuter (give or take 4 years now) and I'm still not sure what the best course of action is in these scenarios. For example, when the lady who cut me off passed me at the next light, her male passenger friend rolled his window down and muttered something at me even though I didn't engage them. As for the oblivious left turner, when I caught up to him, he was completely clueless about what happened. He replied, "Oh, I thought I heard a sound!" On one hand, I feel like if nothing is said (or sometimes yelled), then the person responsible for the incident will never know they did anything wrong and thus not be able to seek or take corrective action. But at the same time, I also feel like that can put cyclists in a negative light for these people and potentially create or reinforce their negative paradigm of cyclists.

Am I being delusional in thinking that people can take something away from an incident if I make a big deal about it or is my best course of action to guard my ass and move along? I realize there can be a fine line in anything we do, but I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on this matter to not only assess the general consensus, but to also see what can be effective practices.

Thanks!
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Old 02-11-14, 01:51 AM   #2
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The wisest thing is to let go - both physically and mentally ie. not confront them, talk back, nor think about it too much, let it upset and bother you later.


Confrontation does let some steam if you get upset, but in the long run you risk injuries and law sues. So by far the best policy is:



If you have a camera, you could try pressing charges, but that's a bother. If you get hit, assaulted or something, that's a different matter, of course, but I believe most states will then press charges automatically for traffic accidents and/or assault. In those scenarios, if you had previously talked back, provoked etc, you could also be in trouble - so it goes back to letting go, just let go, try to avoid ti, stay out of it. Let the idiots pass.


Expecting German advice to record and report each incident, and US advice to "pack some heat..."

Last edited by Slaninar; 02-11-14 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 02-11-14, 02:53 AM   #3
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I think I had most things figured out by my fourth year of commuting, just saying. Is this really the only new thread composed in this forum in the last 24 hours?
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Old 02-11-14, 07:33 AM   #4
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Sounds like it's time to get a horn. Both drivers would have gotten at least a yell from me, if not a long conversation at the next light. It's important to calmly but firmly explain that their actions almost caused you serious injury.
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Old 02-11-14, 07:38 AM   #5
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I can't help myself, I yell. Is it worth it? I dunno but I feel better, usually.
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Old 02-11-14, 08:13 AM   #6
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If there's contact, definitely call 911 and report an incident. Get the license plate of the vehicle in question. Insist on making a report; if they ever pull such a stunt again and somebody gets hurt, you just laid a paper trail of previous intimidation and possibly criminal behavior.

Try to let it roll off, otherwise. Easier said than done; I sometimes fantasize about carying a raw egg that just happens to get tossed vertically when I'm forced to swerve, and comes down on their pretty paint job...
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Old 02-11-14, 08:25 AM   #7
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Perhaps my view of human nature is naive, but I think most people don't really want to hurt us. I believe there is a difference between losing one's temper and confronting someone and in as non-aggressive way possible, letting people know that they've come very close to seriously injuring you. Several years ago a man backing his car out of a parking space while talking on the phone almost ran over a mother pushing a stroller with her child in it. I tapped on his window. He was annoyed, but rolled the window down. When I told him, "Just wanted to make you aware that there was a mother and child behind you and you barely missed them", his face lost all color. He was truly upset and remorseful. He simply hadn't been aware of what he had almost done. Would everyone react the same way? No, most likely not. But, I'd rather approach them as if they would. With that said, I agree pdlamb, when contact has been made that it should be reported.
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Old 02-11-14, 08:28 AM   #8
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I wonder how many of these drivers, even if they act like complete jerks when confronted, think about it a bit and are more careful in the future?

I always say something. Usually a very loud yell and rap on their car when it happens and if I catch up to them I'll be a bit more detailed in what they did. I try to stay firm but calm, but adrenaline sometimes has other ideas.
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Old 02-11-14, 08:28 AM   #9
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get an air horn and use it... it will let them know about you without having to expend the energy of actually engaging them...
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Old 02-11-14, 08:41 AM   #10
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Let it go...sounds like no one is intentionally trying to hit you, but they just don't see you...make yourself more visible...position yourself better...assume you are invisible...etc.
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Old 02-11-14, 08:43 AM   #11
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@NOS88 - I don't think it's na´ve at all. Every single driver I've talked to after an incident has been extremely apologetic. They didn't realize how close they were when they passed, or that their right hook was dangerous.
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Old 02-11-14, 02:16 PM   #12
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politely tell them you have recorded their plate # and will be reporting the accident to the Police for that town.

if you don't survive the accident, of course there is nothing to say. be careful out there. there are very few do-overs in bike commuting. You got hi-vis gear and strobes all over?
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Old 02-11-14, 03:05 PM   #13
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Perhaps if a third party, not involved in the incident, goes up to talk to the driver and tell them they had just endangered someone, it would be better received. There were 2 or 3 times when a bus or taxi almost swiped me, and some other (more outspoken) cyclist approached the driver a the red light and told them to be more careful. So maybe, even if we don't speak up for ourselves in an incident, we can speak for others when we see it happening.
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Old 02-11-14, 03:16 PM   #14
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I live by a motto: You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time. Complaining with anger and a loud voice are likely to get the other person loud or angry or defensive or aggressive. At the least, he is likely to ignore you or think you're full of spit.

If you can stay calm and word your complaint as a request in a polite voice, and that is a very tall order, it's worth a try. My favorite approach is to refer to a hypothetical "next time" and request that the other person do things differently. "Could you please be more careful?" or "Please wait for me to pass before making your turn?"

It might help instead to say what happened. "You moved into my lane, and I had to brake to avoid your hitting me with your car."

Also, it's very important for you to know that just because a driver looked directly in your direction, she might not have seen you at all. Drivers are not trained to look for bicycle-shaped hazards. They are taking in lots of scenes with their eyes and processing them very fast. Something directly in the center of their vision is sometimes completely invisible to them.
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Old 02-12-14, 08:54 AM   #15
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I live by a motto: You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time. Complaining with anger and a loud voice are likely to get the other person loud or angry or defensive or aggressive. At the least, he is likely to ignore you or think you're full of spit.
A lot of truth in this statement. It does not feel as vindicating at the time but the outcome is always much much better. I have really opened some peoples eyes by asking them at the next light if 10 seconds of their day is really worth killing someone over. Once you talk to them CALMLY, you go from cyclist to human with most motorists and that seems to put things into perspective.
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Old 02-12-14, 09:14 AM   #16
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we don't need gun talk in here, take it to P&R. I deleted some posts.
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Old 02-12-14, 09:19 AM   #17
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Another recent anecdote: I was in midtown in very heavy traffic. A limo driver yelled something like "Use the farcking bike lane!" to me. I caught up with him and said, "Yeah I know, this traffic is so frustrating. Anyway, I thought you should know, first off all, cyclists are not obligated to use bike lanes, and secondly, that chevron arrow in the street means the lane is to be shared between bikes and motor vehicles. Not everyone knows that." He very politely thanked me!

Another useful motto is: Kill them with kindness.
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Old 02-12-14, 09:19 AM   #18
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Other than me needing to be even more cautious apparently, my question is; is it worth it to react / reply / or talk to people in vehicles when they do something to potentially hurt you, whether it be intentional or not?
No it isn't worth it.... it might even be rude or dangerous. Other people (or things) are NOT responsible for your emotions. Your concerns about your health/safety/well being are generated inside yourself. Externalizing your feelings (blaming others) isn't fruitful or emotionally healthy.

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Am I being delusional in thinking that people can take something away from an incident if I make a big deal about it
Yes! I like your word choice... "delusional".

Scary crap can most certainly happen when cycling in/with traffic. If we don't properly learn from and discard those scares.... cycling can become a pretty fearful event. If when you return from cycling you continue to dwell on the scary event instead of the joyful cycling event... you may be ending your cycling experiences.

Accidents, serious injury, even death results from cycling... everyday. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring.

You do not control motorists, or traffic. Other than your own cycling skills.... everything that happens on the roads are completely out of your control. Focus on your skills. Learn to concentrate and predict the mistakes of those that you share the roads with. Learn to discard the fear and enjoy the challenge.

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Old 02-12-14, 11:10 AM   #19
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@NOS88 - I don't think it's na´ve at all. Every single driver I've talked to after an incident has been extremely apologetic. They didn't realize how close they were when they passed, or that their right hook was dangerous.
i've encountered a few a-holes but the vast majority are apologetic. i consider talking to motorists who do something idiotic to be a public service.

i also consider advice to "keep calm and wave" to be a perfect illustration of bike stockholm syndrome.
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Old 02-12-14, 11:18 AM   #20
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i've encountered a few a-holes but the vast majority are apologetic. i consider talking to motorists who do something idiotic to be a public service.

i also consider advice to "keep calm and wave" to be a perfect illustration of bike stockholm syndrome.
In my city, confronting strange people, even being polite, is very likely to cause them to curse you or try to beat you up (baseball bats or wrenches are kept in cars often). If the police and driving instructors don't teach drivers how to behave, I certainly won't - so not much use in confronting strange people - not good things.
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Old 02-14-14, 03:33 PM   #21
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being hit by a moving vehicle is my worst fear when I ride on the roads
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