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Old 02-15-09, 02:05 AM   #1
John C. Ratliff
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How to handle rude drivers and passengers

I also posted this on the Advocacy and Safety site, but thought some of this site's readers may not frequent that area of the forum. Here is what I said.

Today, I had an interesting experience on my Saturday morning ride. I was about 15 miles into my 18 mile ride, and stopped off at a local shopping center to take care of some Valentine's Day business (got a card, and freshly baked bread). My wife was out on her morning run, and I wanted to surprise her with some of her favorite things. One of those was See's Chocolates. So after getting the bread and card, I went onto the road, across an intersection to it's far side, then waited for the light to go north (I had been going east). A block up, there was a short turn-off roadway into the other side of the shopping center. I turned right onto this short road, and signaled for a left turn to the curb side where the See's Chocolate store was located.

There was a pickup about 100 feet up the road which had just begun to come toward me. Instead of slowing down to allow me to turn, the driver gunned the engine and zoomed up so as to block my turn, then slammed on his breaks so he could stop another 50 feet down the road. I just shook my head, and waited until he had passed before making my turn. As I was dismounting, the passenger in the pickup opened up the window, almost sat on the window and yelled at me:
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If you had a car, you wouldn't have that problem!
Well, at 63 years old, I have two cars, one a 2005 SUV with 14,500 miles on it (my Rans Stratus recumbant bicycle is being overhauled, and has almost 10,000 miles on it). Not wanting to put up with this from an obvious teenager, I shouted back:
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If you knew how to drive, I would not have this problem!
That brought an immediate response, which I cannot print here, but had something to do with bicycles and the F-word. I also responded to this with:
Quote:
You've got to grow up!
Well, I don't know if this changed any perspectives, but I felt good about the exchange. How do you handle rude drivers?

I got my chocolates, and my wife and I had a very nice Valentine's Day lunch.

John

Last edited by John C. Ratliff; 02-15-09 at 02:07 AM. Reason: add the last sentenc.
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Old 02-15-09, 02:58 AM   #2
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Quite often I'll give them a hand clap or just point a finger at my date. I like the one's that yak away on the phone and wave sorry just after they've nearly killed you. I don't think there's any smart quip that those vacuous *******s would understand.
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Old 02-15-09, 03:43 AM   #3
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Earplugs.
http://tinyurl.com/bxkl3l

Seriously. DOT approved.

I ride 6K miles a year and between the teens that yell, the "safe" drivers who "warn" you by honking at you, and the idiots who just want to release frustration, earplugs have made the difference between coming home rattled and coming home smiling.

I never confront them and I never respond to them. Earplugs make it easier to ignore which is what I would have done in the situation you described.
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Old 02-15-09, 04:09 AM   #4
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Seriously Rod, I couldn't imagine riding around with earplugs in. Listening out for drivers coming up behind me is an essential part of my ride. The sound a car makes can give you an indication of what's going on behind you. Also, driving in the mornings, I tend to close in on intersections a little faster than what I'd do in the middle of the day. I listen hard for approaching traffic and adjust for it.

If it works for you that's great but I'd go nuts not having the extra input.

This could develop into a pretty interesting thread.
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Old 02-15-09, 05:12 AM   #5
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I would never wear ear plugs. I definitely want to be able to hear any aproaching vehicles. And I never respond to anyone who honks or yells at me. It only makes them more defiant, and more likely to do something even more stupid.
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Old 02-15-09, 05:52 AM   #6
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The question was, "How do you handle rude drivers". I responded. Let's not turn this into a diatribe on earplug use.

Just to be clear...The earplugs I wear are meant to be used in traffic. They are not the foam plugs that cost 25 cents. They attenuate noise, they are frequency dependent, they come with two levels of attenuation tubes. They do not block vehicular traffic sound, they attenuate it. Again... they are DOT approved.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:15 AM   #7
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Sometimes I think that the best response is no response.

Most of the people who do things like that are trying to frighten you or to piss you off. Any response that you make tells them they were successful and rewards them.

That's easy to say sitting here but it can be hard to do when you're in the heat of the moment.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:29 AM   #8
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A few years ago I would throw up the finger, and probably yell back to them...but I got chased a few times and some people would even stop their car and try to confront me. The good thing is on a bike you can get away through a shortcut, ditch, alley, whatever...Now, still young, but much wiser, I just ignore it and take it out on the pedals. I get angry, pedal harder, and get a better workout.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:53 AM   #9
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Just smile and wave or even just ignore. Nobody wins confrontations.
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Old 02-15-09, 07:05 AM   #10
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Good answer, jppe. Awhile back a guy nearly ran me off the road and then parked in a driveway about 500 up the road. As he was getting out of his car, I stopped my bike. Without raising my voice, I simply asked him what the problem was. He started to throw rocks at me. Sometimes you've just got to let it go.
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Old 02-15-09, 07:23 AM   #11
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From an advanced motorcycling course I took a long time ago, still remembered

"Hostiles and incompetents, you can't educate them all and you're in a poor situation to try"
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Old 02-15-09, 07:45 AM   #12
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Most jerks are already miserable so your chances of inflicting additional misery is probably not very good. I prefer to save my energy for the ride ahead.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jppe View Post
Just smile and wave or even just ignore. Nobody wins confrontations.
+1 Besides I'm too small to whoop anyone
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Old 02-15-09, 08:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jppe View Post
Just smile and wave or even just ignore. Nobody wins confrontations.
And yell "hi neighbor".

That usually gets them thinking.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:34 AM   #15
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Utilize the tools at your disposal I say. Ever heard of the "Ted Williams Salute"?? That' what your middle finger is for.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:42 AM   #16
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I've been tempted on several occasions, but the best response is a smile (although I like Louis' suggestion).

The problem, in a nutshell, is that if you retaliate (flip the driver off, yell obscenities, etc.) and the driver decides to take it to the next level, you're on a very uneven playing field (i.e., you have a ~15-20 lb bike, he/she has a 3-4,000 lb vehicle).
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Old 02-15-09, 08:54 AM   #17
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My Dad always told me, "Never argue with an idiot, since you have to come down to their level and then you lose anyway." You can't offset 30 years of ignorance with 10 seconds of instructions.
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Old 02-15-09, 09:19 AM   #18
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I used to flip 'em the bird...but no longer. In these times with people losing their jobs, their homes, their cars, their life savings, their pensions, and who knows what else; I would advise against it. All it takes is a tiny spark to set off some people living in those shoes. In my neck of the woods lots of them are carrying guns.
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Old 02-15-09, 09:36 AM   #19
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I usually don't respond, but occasionally I will yell out "have a nice day!"
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Old 02-15-09, 09:52 AM   #20
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If you tried to handle rude drivers you would have a pretty busy day.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:23 AM   #21
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I live in an area where it's rare to wander out and not run into someone you know. Even when riding through the hills. So if folks do stuff like that I tend to sit up, smile, and wave. Then they start to wonder, uh oh, do I know that woman? Uh oh, is that one of my mom's/wife's friends? I often get the sheepish wave back.

Once I was out riding by myself and a car was following at a safe distance, and after a half a mile passed me safely pulling into the other lane. He then pulled ahead of me and pulled off to park. When I reached him he rolled down the window and looked surprised. "Oh, I thought you were my daughter!", the elderly gentleman said. I stopped and responded with a smile, "So that's why you were driving so safely?" "Oh no", he said, "I always drive like cyclists are my daughter, because they are someone's daughter..." Now that's a good attitude.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jppe View Post
Just smile and wave or even just ignore. Nobody wins confrontations.
I really admire your response but I find it very difficult to do that. I was raised by a father that believed "real men" reacted violently and even though I do not believe that violence is ever the answer to anything my school boy training pushes me in another direction. Fortunately for me even though I'm way too old for that crap my 6'4" 260 plus pounds size makes even the young guys hesitate.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:43 AM   #23
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I usually just smile and give them a friendly wave, hoping that it will make them realize it is a person and not an object. That doesn't always work, but at least one of us is acting like a decent person. I must admit, though, that sometimes I'll lose my cool and yell and flip them off.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:44 AM   #24
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I generally agree with you all - ignore the idiots.
However the OP was dealing with a smart ass teenage driver. I make an exception and find them too irresistible to ignore.
Maybe I've been heavily influenced by my wife who has taught school for 31 years..
In my experience most of these encounters involve teenage boys. (Getting too close, yelling to get on the sidewalk, etc.) I think maybe if I light into them like a christmas tree, they won't grow up to be full-fledged adult idiots.
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Old 02-15-09, 11:28 AM   #25
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Quote:
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I generally agree with you all - ignore the idiots.
However the OP was dealing with a smart ass teenage driver. I make an exception and find them too irresistible to ignore.
Maybe I've been heavily influenced by my wife who has taught school for 31 years..
In my experience most of these encounters involve teenage boys. (Getting too close, yelling to get on the sidewalk, etc.) I think maybe if I light into them like a christmas tree, they won't grow up to be full-fledged adult idiots.
I drive a school bus so I've got a good amount of experience with smart ass teenagers.

If they're driving a car they're over 16. The vast majority of kids have grown out of that phase by the time they finish 8th grade. If they're over 16 and still acting that way they're at least 2 years behind their peers intellectually.
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