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  1. #1
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    It is getting worse on the road? (attitude of American drivers, that is.)

    Long rant ahead. consider yourselves warned.

    I was going to post this over in Advocacy and safety, but I don't think the 20-somethings really have a point of reference.

    Here is a Link to a thread in A & S regarding a female cyclist being assaulted by an motorist.

    In the 70's, I rode to school in Boston almost every day. I rode all over the place, in fact. I never got honked at, yelled at, or assaulted. Not once did I have bottles, fast food remains, or cigarette butts tossed at me. The bike racks at Boston area colleges, BU, MIT, etc., were packed with the ten-speeds of the day. (unlike today, where only MIT has lots of bikes on its racks) All those students riding around, and it was very rare to hear of someone having a problem. The greatest concerns for cyclists in those days were theft (It was very bad in the 70's) and vandalism.

    I'm not sure when I noticed things changing. Late 80's, I guess. That's when I started to hear the occasional horror story from other cyclists, about actual assaults. People leaning on their horns started to become more common, as did the occasional toss of a bottle, or fast food. (And what a great country we have!! People can actually afford to buy food, a precious commodity in some nations, and throw it at people they just don't like.) These tales of actual assaults are what get me though. I am hearing more and more tales like the one linked above. (in that case, a police officer witnessed part of the assault. That was lucky)

    My question simply is this: What the heck is going on here? I know, there is probably no real answer to this, I'm just curious as to what people who have been cycling for a long time think. Are Americans simply de-evolving, or what?

    I have known four people in as many years who have given up riding on the roads, and gone to off-road riding only, (bike path, trail, stationary gym bikes) because of this problem. These were not newbies, these were cyclists in their late 40's to early 60's.

    As for me, I'm wondering if I should just learn to speak Dutch and head to Holland.

    Okay, rant over.
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  2. #2
    Senior Member OrangeOkie's Avatar
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    Ugly American syndrome.

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I ask myself the same question, and I BELIEVE, without proof, that today's motorists are less attentive, less cautious, less courteous, and more isolated from the driving experience than in years past. Add to this the increase in typical speed limits and road design speeds between intersections and growing frustration over congestion at intersections, and you have a recipe for increasing, rather than decreasing, pedestrian and bicyclist mortality rates, even as airbag and vehicle design technology save more vehicle occupants every year.
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  4. #4
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    I haven't been "cycling a long time" - only 3 years regularly so my opinion is only based upon that period. Several thoughts occur to me about your question:

    1) There is a resentment for cyclists occupying the roadways in some places. Fortunately my locality doesn't have too many of those. My only experience with discourteous drivers comes from the cohort of older teenagers - early twentysomethings. That discourtesy is simply a product of their age, in my opinion, and the desire to push their vehicles through space in an unrestricted fashion.

    2) With over half the population classified as obese, that half is likely to resent those who are practicing 'fitness' by riding a bicycle. I suspect, with absolutely no evidence to back it up, that this resentment can translate into discourteous road behavior. Since they would not want to waddle out of their cars to confront a cyclist, they act out behind several tons of steel.

    3) Everyone driving a car is paying more for that privilege and each minute costs more. Having cyclists 'obstruct' a driver's expensive minutes behind the wheel could also generate resentment.

    Yours is an interesting question, though...
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  5. #5
    Fast Old Guy Straightblock's Avatar
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    Absolutely yes. In the past week I have had 3 different drivers pull along side me, look right at me and proceed to make a right turn directly across my path, requiring hard braking on my part. I followed the first one, a high-maintenance middle-aged woman, into the parking lot where she was on her way to the freakin' nail salon! I proceeded to chew her out for a few minutes, expecting a sincere apology and maybe some tears, but I got neither. After the last one just this morning, I told my riding buddies that if this keeps up I'm going to kick a door in some day. I hope I have more self-control than that.

    At least with 30+ years of road riding experience, I can see most of the stupid & inconsiderate drivers in time to avoid a crash or getting hit. I know that any morning near any Starbucks driveway , you need to watch out for the soccer moms in their SUVs with one hand on the cell phone while they fix their makeup in the mirror. With cell phones, navigation systems, DVD players, iPods, drive-thru food & drinks, etc, drivers have plenty of distractions they didn't have 10 or 20 years ago.

    I started to use an eyeglasses mounted mirror a few years ago, and now feel naked without it, possibly even more so than the rare times I ride without a helmet.

  6. #6
    Senior Member freeranger's Avatar
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    I don't know. Just started road riding and now live in Louisville KY. Drivers here don't seem that bad-but of course, I only have the Baltimore suburbs to compare to, so of course, here is an improvement! I wouldn't (& didn't) own a road bike when I lived in the B'more burbs-but there were lots more mtn bike trails back there(Md-Pa area) & they were closer by, so mtn.biked instead. I do think cell phones have caused way too many accidents-I've almost been run into several times (in my car) by people paying more attention to talking than driving!

  7. #7
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    Only $2500.00 bond??? He got off too easily. His actions showed intent to harm her. I can't even imagine how traumatic that must have been for her.

    Drivers are crazy here.... they ride our bumper when we are already going 75mph on the freeway. This is why I've been afraid to venture out to the streets on my new bike, and with every other car being a big SUV I'm afraid they won't look down and see me!
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  8. #8
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    I think that these impressions of bad drivers are just part of the changes occuring in an overstressed world. Drivers drive more agressively at the same time that they are too carless to put the proper effort into driving. Parents go crazy at kids games. As a former soccer ref (and mentor/trainer of a whole passle of young refs) I can attest to numerous occasions where adults attempted to harm or intimidate 13/14 year old refs. Bikers in these forums have told us that they will holler at other bikers who show up for events with incorrect equipment or attitude (fun does not appear to be the attitude sometimes) Other posts tell us of sabotaged trails with the express purpose of injuring bikers.

    Go for a ride when possible, use it for your sanity. Try being nice to the people you meet. Perhaps we can lead by example. Do you think anyone will listen to the older generation anymore?
    Last edited by maddmaxx; 04-14-07 at 07:08 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I just posted a thread about riding on the shoulder. If I could try and stay away from traffic, which I know you can't, I'd jump on my bike and head out cross country. Even when I'm driving I see these jerks everywhere. It's like get out of my way, I got places to go and you don't. I could go on and on, but you know the story. I bet that guy gets a lawyer and he'll walk, and just may do the same thing, that same day.
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  10. #10
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    I was discussing driving with a woman in her late 60's whom I had met at a barbecue. I asked her about driving on the freeways. She said; Driving? They aren't driving on freeways anymore, they are fighting with 3000 lb. projectiles going 80 mph. I think that about sums it up. The anger spills over onto city streets and tends to focus on anything that slows them down. Like a bike. It's dangerous out there. Be careful. I have simply given up on riding city streets, and stick to the local trails. Partly because my attitude can get really bad, really quick. Partly because riding the car free trails is so nice. bk

  11. #11
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    I see more general aggression, badf skills, tailgating, crazy lane changing and just all around bad driving when I'm in my car.
    On the bike I often get honked at for no reason. If a car stops at a MUP crossing THEY get honked at.
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    I experience a lot more road rage in my car than on my bike.

    Paul

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I think it varies a lot depending on where you live. I ride mostly on low traffic rural roads and downtown in my small town where I can move the same rate as the cars. I find most people to be very courteous and friendly. There is the occasional jerk, but there always has been. On major roads where there is a lot of traffic and people are in a hurry, the aggression level is much higher. In suburbs where life seems to go at a more hurried pace, people in cars seem very unfriendly.
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  14. #14
    another cat...FAB! stevesurf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trackhub
    My question simply is this: What the heck is going on here? I know, there is probably no real answer to this, I'm just curious as to what people who have been cycling for a long time think. Are Americans simply de-evolving, or what?
    I've noticed a gradual change over the years in people's driving skills, habits and temper, and this has coincided with an equally gradual change of myself just geting more and more careful and worried about getting hit.

    Keep in mind, however, that I started getting overly careful when I was first hit by a car many years ago. I was taken in an ambulance and the bike was mangled; I was so luck to be wearing my helmet. The driver was elderly and could hardly see.

    You mentioned that many of your friends take to the MUP's to get away from traffic. I do that as well, but I just won't ride there if it's well travelled by peds and pets, I'll just go find another path.

    Last year my sister and brother-in-law moved to Tucson, up in the foothills. I just love that place, being so bike friendly. I'm actually getting one of my road bikes back in shape and will ship it out there and get in a good amount of cycling there. That'll pretty much be the exception and one of the only cities where I'll ride with traffic, simply because I feel safer.

    If I'm over the GF's in New Jersey, I know people just couldn't care less and are downright angry that you are sharing "their" road. In Westchester County, New York, it is a little better because I think the housing market has driven away a good deal of people that would crowd the roadways.

    Not that politics has anything to do with this, and I apologize for making a comment outside of P&R, but I believe we'll have a much greater awareness with a new "greener" administration. Proof that your influence counts - use it!

  15. #15
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeranger
    I don't know. Just started road riding and now live in Louisville KY. Drivers here don't seem that bad-but of course, I only have the Baltimore suburbs to compare to, so of course, here is an improvement! I wouldn't (& didn't) own a road bike when I lived in the B'more burbs-but there were lots more mtn bike trails back there(Md-Pa area) & they were closer by, so mtn.biked instead. I do think cell phones have caused way too many accidents-I've almost been run into several times (in my car) by people paying more attention to talking than driving!
    Freeranger, I have reason to believe that you are a communist agent.

    But maybe not.

    It's aggrevating to see how rude bicyclists can be here in River City. When I bike I hug the side of the road unless I'm going pretty fast and the side is a little too chip-and-fill for my comfort. I've seen bikers get in the middle of the road and make it almost impossible to pass them at all in a car, as if they're saying "I'm riding a Trek Madone and I'm special, so screw you".

    OTOH it's fun to stop with your bike at a 4 way stop sign (a great time to practice trackstands) and see the look of shock on the cagers' faces, as if they can't believe that a biker is actually obeying traffic laws. If fact, so far (knock on silicon) I've only had one motorist get in my face, and he was a 20-something idiot.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    This was discussed before here and the consensus was that it is a regional problem.
    Some states cater to bikes and you see more bikers. Drivers get used to the bikers, streets have bike lanes and streets are marked for bikers. Wisconsin is one such state and there are others.
    Some states make little or no effort for bikers. Traffic may be dense and no bike lanes. Biking is not safe in such places. I put a high value on my health and bike almost 100% on trails and in parks for that reason.
    However, we did XC through the southern states with a group of 35 bikers. We had no incidents. I must say that the tour leader insisted that we all bike VC (Vehicular Correct). Perhaps that helped.
    I biked today with a young man who was all over the road in rain and traffic. I criticised him for behaving like a young kid and confusing the car drivers. I hope I got through to him. I told him to drive like he would his car. This was a new revelation to him.
    Bikes are competing for space on poor quality roads.

  17. #17
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    I've been commuting in Arlington for 8 years and nearly 20,000 miles. I have encountered maybe one hostile motorist when riding. This is an exception. We Arlingtonians are not like that.

    Paul

  18. #18
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I have to laugh. I was out riding the other day and was coming uphill to an intersection where the left of two lanes was designated for a left turn or going straight thru, and the right lane was for turning right only. So, I signalled my intention and got in the middle of the two lanes, because I wanted to be at the right hand side of the left hand lane when I reached the light.

    Naturally, some idiot came up behind me and laid on his horn. It bugged me, but I mostly ignored him and reached the traffic signal, which was red. Now he should have been on my right, but he lagged behind a bit, and once again, laid on the horn.

    Now I was pissed. "What the blank are you honking at, you idiot!" I membled, as I turned around to face the knucklehead. Then I discovered that the car BEHIND him was honking AT him, and had been all the while, because there was something on top of his car that was coming loose. No one had been honking at me at any time!

    Sheepishly, when the light turned green, I made my way through the intersection and continued my ride. Sometimes, a rude motorist isn't a rude motorist after all!
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  19. #19
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trackhub
    Are Americans simply de-evolving, or what?
    I think so.

  20. #20
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    I agree with MadMaxx here. We've gone completely out of our minds with stress, intolerance, and resentment. The road is just one more stage on which this plays out. One in which cyclists are inertially vulnerable. As a veteran of several unpleasant interactions with the internal combustion engine culture [I'm no longer symmetrical on several planes as a result], I find the road more and more a white-knuckle experience. Doing more MUP and off-road as time goes on. . .but liking it more.

    "Women drivers" are still the safest, most considerate, and sympathetic drivers out there. That said, even many of them are succumbing to the cell-phone, speed, inattention, huge-vehicle driving culture. Mind, I’m in West [Occupied] Virginia, World's Capital of Bicycle-Antagonism, so YMMV.

  21. #21
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    Unfortunatly, I don't think it's just a bike thing.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    This was discussed before here and the consensus was that it is a regional problem.
    Some states cater to bikes and you see more bikers. Drivers get used to the bikers, streets have bike lanes and streets are marked for bikers. Wisconsin is one such state and there are others.
    So far I've only encountered one rude motorist on the roads in SW Ohio. Cycling gets quite a bit of attention due to the Ohio Bicycle Federation and our past governor who was a cyclist. The city of Dayton has been holding public meetings to get cyclist input on bike lanes in the downtown area. Several groups have gone together to expand the Bike-to-work event into a month long event in the area this year. One of the local farmer's markets will be holding it's third annual "Gear Fest" this year. The event includes demonstrations for different sports and vendors who want to sell or promote their items. Cycling dominates this event.

    I think motorist in the area are accustomed to seeing bikes on the road due to the many sponsored rides. Our cycling club has several during the year and many of the local festivals include a cycling event. We also have an extensive system of paved trails in the area and they continue to grow each year. The IMBA and the local park district are just finishing the construction of a mountain bike park in the area. Why couldn't they have done these things when I was younger

    BTW....that one rude motorist picked the wrong time and wrong place to lay on the horm and see how close she could come to me as I was waiting at the intersection to make a left-hand turn. A city policeman was the second car in line on the side street and witnessed it all. He immediately turned his lights on and pulled her over.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    Move to Madison, WI and vicinity, where the drivers wave, smile, go out of their way to give you space, never cut you off, the mayor ride his bike to work, bike lanes everywhere, bike trails that allow you to ride all the way to Milwaukee if you want, where their is a very vocal advocacy group...I could go on and on.

    I love it here, and when I read the stories of road rage at other places, it only reinforces what others have said: it depends on where you live.

  24. #24
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I was thinking the way things are going, the girl will probably be fined for something, and he'll walk.
    George

  25. #25
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I do think it is regional, and relates to the general level of fitness/fitness awareness in the community. Also, to me, many of the world's problems are caused by over population. When I was a kid, the world was at about 1 billion and the USA was about 150 million or so. Now we are over 6 billion, and the USA is about 300 million or so.

    Simply having less space, and more demand on resources tends to create tension.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 04-15-07 at 07:37 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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