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Motorist Perception & Behavior

Old 05-11-19, 07:09 AM
  #26  
DrIsotope
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My reality is that most drivers are okay. But this is SoCal, so there are a whole lot of them, and they are absolutely not all okay. Perhaps 99.9% of drivers out there on any given day will behave as human beings, and everything is fine. People just want to go where they need to go, same as me. But everything comes down to that last tenth-- for in there resides the chronically distracted, the perpetually late who place themselves above all others (they don't just cut off bikes, everyone and everything are fair game) and the worst but thankfully most rare, the actively aggressive "punish passer."

On a typical day, I'll get close passed-- by my own estimation of what constitutes as close-- once or twice. That's where a part of the vehicle comes close enough that I feel the air disturbance of it, or an object like the sideview mirror gets so close to me I flinch. Inside the 3-foot zone? Dozens. Who even knows. Roads here are not all bicycle friendly, not by a long shot. Sometimes there's just no room.

But the guy who swerved at me to try to get a reaction, the guy who tried to pinch me into a curb, the guy who whipped a half-full Gatorade bottle at me? As @MattTheHat said, those guys are jerks, and a person on a bicycle is just a convenient target. I haven't had anyone buzz me in a good long while, but it's almost inevitable. There are so many drivers out there, and some of them are just terrible people.

Some of my favorites though, are the nannies. The ones who honk when I start rolling before the light is green. Or see fit to pull up alongside me, roll down their window, and inform me of things such as, "You know that was a stop sign back there." Yeah, I absolutely know-- no cross traffic, no oncoming making a left turn, I keep going. But at least they saw me.
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Old 05-11-19, 07:14 AM
  #27  
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I sometimes ride with a cycling jersey, but never with a full kit and certainly no racing style logo's. Sometimes with a helmet, sometimes only casual street clothes. I have not noticed a recognizable difference in how I was "treated".

It seems to me we have some control over this. Riding assertively like one belongs on the road helps to garner better treatment in my opinion. Others hug the edge, always try to stay out of the way, and "hope" the motorists treat them right. A kind of passive approach.

Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I agree with this, and have had similar experiences to the OP. Full cycling kit simply "triggers" certain people, most of them ambiguously macho diesel 4x4 types, who can usually be presumed to be mentally-ill to begin with, but they get a pass from the GP and the popo only because there are so damned many of them.

I find it's best to dress in street clothes, for whatever reason I have fewer problems. Maybe people think I'm riding to work, got a DUI, or can't afford a car. Maybe people on their way to work (who I find to be frequent close-passers) resent someone in full kit because they know the person is only out there working out and not doing anything useful, while they're driving their crappy car to a crappy job that pays crappy money. "Get a gym membership!" they might say.

The 4x4 people are just nuts, you can't really expect someone who's driving a 12 foot tall monstrosity to act rationally, but a lot of them are triggered by cycling kit, no doubt about it. I suspect that's one if the main reasons they buy those things, to torment Priuses and MAMILs.
Maybe drivers stereotyping kitted cyclist is not all that different than cyclists stereotyping 4x4 truck drivers?
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Old 05-11-19, 07:25 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
It's the fall out from Lance. Also guilt from fitness culture, bad lifestyle choices, general dissatisfaction from consumerism & a lack of sense of community. But also Lance. Cycling used to be cool, for a while. But now it's just a bunch of rich elitist drug-addled poseur-wannabes bent on chasing the dragon of superiority. This image in drivers minds is how Lance actually hurt cycling for the rest of us. It's also the disconnect that must be bridged if cycling is to grow & be accepted as a normal activity.

We know better, But drivers would rather be secure in their prejudice.

I had one driver make a Lance reference to me at a stoplight. I asked: "Why is it always that guy? Why not Froome or Cavendish?" The driver had nuthin' He just wanted a chance to flex his meager ego.

The tattooed tanktop rider isn't perceived to be jockeying for social superiority. They are lower in status & they know it. So there is no conflict for the obviously superior drivers to react against.

If you come from a position of privlege, equality can feel like oppression. The Lance image encroaches on their automobile derived superiority, so they react to maintain their status.

It really is that simple.
"We" don't know "better". "We" are just projecting our own prejudices and bias in a mish-mash of hyper generalizations, stereotyping and baloney.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 05-11-19 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 05-11-19, 08:02 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
I sometimes ride with a cycling jersey, but never with a full kit and certainly no racing style logo's. Sometimes with a helmet, sometimes only casual street clothes. I have not noticed a recognizable difference in how I was "treated".

It seems to me we have some control over this. Riding assertively like one belongs on the road helps to garner better treatment in my opinion. Others hug the edge, always try to stay out of the way, and "hope" the motorists treat them right. A kind of passive approach.
Worst approach in the world. That type of timidness breeds indecision, and creates an atmophere on controversy. Drivers need to understand they're not doing you a favor; and that a cyclist has as much right to use the roads as they do.
Maybe drivers stereotyping kitted cyclist is not all that different than cyclists stereotyping 4x4 truck drivers?
Two tons of steel vs 200 lbs of flesh and blood? Got to disagree with you on that one bub.

Big difference.

Last edited by KraneXL; 05-11-19 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 05-11-19, 08:18 AM
  #30  
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I have noticed that when I open carry I am given a much wider birth. I might try some fake taboos and scruffy clothing.

The solution is more bicycle infrastructure and public awareness advertising. I would gladly accept a tax or fee or maybe like a check box on state/federal forms.

I also ride motorcycles, sport bikes. I notice that when alone cars will sometimes tend to bully or get too close. Riding in a group, much, much less so.

Cell phone usage is the new DUI, use of a phone while driving is a huge problem and needs to be taken seriously just as DUI is now (once upon a time it was not).
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Old 05-11-19, 08:23 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by KraneXL View Post
Worst approach in the world. That type of timidness breeds indecision, and creates an atmophere on controversy. Drives need to understand they're not doing you a favor; and that a cyclist has as much right to use the roads as they do.Two tons of steel vs 200 lbs of flesh and blood? Got to disagree with you on that one bub.

Big difference.
I think you're missing the whole reason many people drive ever larger vehicles. It's simply the law of the jungle. When I'm in my truck, I'm more conspicuous. Therefore my car sits most of the time. My big arsed four-by is very easy to spot. Despite slightly less than half the fuel mileage of my car, I'd rather drive that. People are less willing to cut you off or crowd you when you're slightly larger than they are. Now bicycles? I bet they crowd you just because they think they're making you scared of them. Childish, but most people are idiots at some point in the day. Including us awesome, near perfect, home planet loving, social purists.
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Old 05-11-19, 08:56 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
"We" don't know "better". "We" are just projecting our own prejudices and bias in a mish-mash of hyper generalizations, stereotyping and baloney.
After just listing the prejudicial view drivers hold of us & claiming that we know that is not a true representation of our group, are you asserting that the drivers prejudices are true & we don't know ourselves? That after being on both sides of the passenger door we don't understand our own motivations?

Based on thousands of actual in-depth conversations with actual human persons, it is a true statement that if given a choice most people would rather choose to be secure in their prejudices than learn new things. They have devised a model for understanding the world that works for them and anything that challenges that if is is even considered at all, is somehow a threat that must be discounted, invalidated, pushed away, marginalized, wrong, made illegal, or, or, or...The new model, whatever it is, is just scary or dangerous. It up-ends their reality. The secure place is to be "righteous" and stick with others who they believe believe the same things. We hear this all the time with the made up "war on cars", "roads are for cars", etc...In a sense, you are correct. We ourselves do it when we discount humans going the wrong way in the bike lane (salmon), skinny unkempt dudes on too small BMX bikes (tweakers), angry white dudes in 4x4's or white pick-ups that roll coal, or impatient moms in mini-vans that right hook, or entitled white collar office types in luxury cars that won't budge an inch or stay behind and honk incessantly. The difference though is we are criticizing their actions, not their existance.

A punish pass (to keep this on cycling) is an act of affirming the drivers choice is the correct world model (for them.)

I could go one step further and claim that by giving a cyclist a punish pass & remaining anonomous in their actions, some people believe they really are showing love. In their mind they are concerned for the others eternal soul & they are absolved of responsibility by the in group support/social structure because they are demonstrating how dangerous cycling (being out group) can be & the car centric choice (like them & their group) is salvation, safety, security, belonging, comfort...I don't run with groups that think this way anymore, but I have seen this logic applied many times in many situations to many people. I do not agree with it at all. In any case, it would be activly discounted, marginalized, pushed out, or considered "wrong" by anyone who's world view it hits too close to home to, anyway.

I made a monkey comment up thread. I still think it applies. Do you have any ponderings as to the motivations behind drivers behaviour?

Last edited by base2; 05-11-19 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 05-11-19, 09:14 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
I made a monkey comment up thread. I still think it applies. Do you have any ponderings as to the motivations behind drivers behaviour?
You should ponder your own motivation to post your own long list of prejudices, biases, and pseudo-psychoanalyses of motorists. You should also ponder that posting stereotypical balderdash (even if you believe it) does not make it so. You could ponder that you speak only for the "We" people who share your blatant prejudice and bias, and a willingness to broadcast the same to the world.
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Old 05-11-19, 09:24 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Maybe drivers stereotyping kitted cyclist is not all that different than cyclists stereotyping 4x4 truck drivers?
Originally Posted by KraneXL View Post
Worst approach in the world. That type of timidness breeds indecision, and creates an atmophere on controversy. Drivers need to understand they're not doing you a favor; and that a cyclist has as much right to use the roads as they do.Two tons of steel vs 200 lbs of flesh and blood? Got to disagree with you on that one bub.

Big difference.
Size and power has nothing to do with the stereotypes drivers and cyclists hold of specific groups.

On a separate note, I don't give up right of way simply because someone larger attempts to intimidate me. Not in a motor vehicle or on a bike. I'd only give way to avoid a crash, which means seldom to never. Very few actively try to hit someone. Not even big bad bullies.
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Old 05-11-19, 10:03 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
Size and power has nothing to do with the stereotypes drivers and cyclists hold of specific groups.

On a separate note, I don't give up right of way simply because someone larger attempts to intimidate me. Not in a motor vehicle or on a bike. I'd only give way to avoid a crash, which means seldom to never. Very few actively try to hit someone. Not even big bad bullies.
Couldn't be more wrong on either side. In fact, just the opposite. Freud gave us all that 100 years ago.
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Old 05-11-19, 10:46 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
I sometimes ride with a cycling jersey, but never with a full kit and certainly no racing style logo's. Sometimes with a helmet, sometimes only casual street clothes. I have not noticed a recognizable difference in how I was "treated".
I agree with this. I'll even ride in full kit, everything but the logos, or gym shorts or blue jeans, whatever, and I don't see any difference in how I'm treated by drivers.

I will say this though. When I'm taking the Greenway in the morning I see a big difference with pedestrians. Granted it may be that they just don't recognize me in the costume, but I don't think that's all of it. A lot more of the pleasant greetings and smiles when I'm dressed in street clothes.

Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
It seems to me we have some control over this. Riding assertively like one belongs on the road helps to garner better treatment in my opinion. Others hug the edge, always try to stay out of the way, and "hope" the motorists treat them right. A kind of passive approach.



Maybe drivers stereotyping kitted cyclist is not all that different than cyclists stereotyping 4x4 truck drivers?
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Old 05-11-19, 12:21 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by richosti View Post
The only option I find here in Sydney which is often heralded as one of the worst places in the world to cycle is assume no one can see you. This means for me use a mirror, obey Newtons laws of physics before road law and and run at least 2 lights all the time
I tell people to treat drivers like they're blind, stupid, and not paying attention. So far, so good.
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Old 05-11-19, 12:31 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
You should ponder your own motivation to post your own long list of prejudices, biases, and pseudo-psychoanalyses of motorists. You should also ponder that posting stereotypical balderdash (even if you believe it) does not make it so. You could ponder that you speak only for the "We" people who share your blatant prejudice and bias, and a willingness to broadcast the same to the world.
Being aware those prejudices exist does not mean that I necessarily hold that view. I can only speak from personal experience among the groups I have been part of. Did something I wrote hit close to home? It may be time to consider & weigh accordingly as it is coming from "in group." It's ok to change your model, but it's also ok if you don't.

However, being a licensed commercial driver with a tanker, hazardous materials, doubles/triples, endorsements. As well as a motorcyclist for all my adult life does give me a unique perspective. Non-professional drivers (& by that, I mean meaning amateur drivers) lose situational awareness, get impatient impatient & do dumb things around 80,000 pound trucks too. What they don't do is bully & push them around. So, understanding that, there is an outward motivation towards treating cyclists (both motor & pedal) the way they do. What is it?
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Old 05-11-19, 12:49 PM
  #39  
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People that try to actually answer the question posed in a given thread get little respect around here. There's a familiar pattern.

OP: * posts specific question *

Responder: * answers the question posed *

Meddler: * mercilessly ridicules person who answered question *

Responder: * defends post *

Meddler: * pours on more ridicule, questions Responder's sexual orientation, accuses him of being a National Socialist *

Responder: * leaves thread in disgust *

Meddler: * turns thread into referendum on the validity of his criticisms of Responder *
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Old 05-11-19, 01:40 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
People that try to actually answer the question posed in a given thread get little respect around here. There's a familiar pattern.

OP: * posts specific question *

Responder: * answers the question posed *
What "question" was posed by the OP of this thread?
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Old 05-11-19, 02:28 PM
  #41  
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Haven't notice difference about kit or regular clothes but sure have noticed I'm given more space when I have my super bright taillight on. Even on bright sunny days.
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Old 05-12-19, 02:24 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
I tell people to treat drivers like they're blind, stupid, and not paying attention. So far, so good.
Well, yeah. But that would make one segment of the population the babysitter of the other segment. In fact, safety should be divided between the two. Being aware of your environment is not just the responsibility of the other person. Rather, something that should be everybody's duty.
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Old 05-12-19, 03:19 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
What "question" was posed by the OP of this thread?
Spot on.
No questions.
Just a lot of grade school psychology and people thinking they look tougher than they do
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Old 05-12-19, 06:05 AM
  #44  
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Ugh it happened to the wife and I yesterday. I read this thread with interest before riding. Even talked with her about how it makes sense. So we are on a bike path and had 2 incidents. 1st was a family of 8 riding across the entire pathway. A rider in his 30s wearing regular clothes on a bike with a banana seat was coming right at me. We both had to stop until they moved past us. I gave him a polite wtf and off we went. We talked about it for a minute or two and that was that. About 10 minutes later someone screamed PASSING from behind as we were approaching a couple walking side by side. I yelled back that they had to wait. Once we got around the pedestrians we were passed by a column of 4 road bikes with everyone kitted out for the tour.

We were so pissed from the way we were startled to the speed they were traveling. Mind you this is around 11am on a weekend. Lots of MUP activity. We talked about them a lot more than the guy on the wrong side of the path. Perception...
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Old 05-12-19, 06:35 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post

Do you have any ponderings as to the motivations behind drivers behaviour?
I have some ponderings about when people in the USA use that spelling of behavior, but I am going to keep them to myself.
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Old 05-12-19, 07:09 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
Haven't notice difference about kit or regular clothes but sure have noticed I'm given more space when I have my super bright taillight on. Even on bright sunny days.
Interesting. I wonder if that is because drivers assume you are on a licensed road vehicle with an engine?
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Old 05-12-19, 09:06 AM
  #47  
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In my experience, its the light that gets driver's attention -- long before anything you wear (unless its highly reflective gear). Most motorist yield when I have my lights on, but brake and slow when I wear my reflective gear.

In fact, in many cases they'd slow so much that I would actually not wear reflective gear (or ride on the busier streets when I do), because it caused too much distraction (once a drive became dazzled by the glow and slowed down to observe "the alien") blocking traffic behind them.

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Old 05-12-19, 09:58 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
A couple times a year I'm reminded of how motorists only see what they consider to be a threat. Twice a year I take my truck to be detailed at a place up on the state route (2 lane road) just on the edge of town. I put a bicycle in the bed and ride it home so I don't need a ride. When the truck is done I reverse the process and go get it. There's a half mile section of busy two lane, then I'm back on quiet small town streets. The road is basically an artery between two larger cities north and south of my town so there's a good amount of traffic; there is a rideable shoulder. Midway in this half mile section is a conglomeration of businesses, gas station, fast food etc so there's a traffic signal there.

When I've brought one of my good road bikes and been properly kitted out to ride (shorts, jersey, helmet, eye protection, blinky lights front and back) while my truck is being detailed, that half mile section is miserable. Drivers are openly hostile and many (when the weather is good and windows are down) have commented on my heritage and intelligence among other things. Some breeze very close and smile while they're looking right at me.

There have been times when I was in the middle of a project at home and was wearing jeans, run down work boots and a cut off/sleeveless T shirt; threw my old Schwinn Varsity in the truck and went to the detail shop for drop off or ridden back up to retrieve it. I'm 60 and have a number of visible tattoos, all of which are related to my time in the military and my chosen profession I retired from. Basically, all that along with my shaved head makes me look like a felon who might have done time in the penitentiary/have nothing to lose. It's not a look I was going for, it's just how it turned out. When I'm dressed as described and not wearing a helmet, drivers will patiently wait some distance behind me while I ride the half mile section unfettered. Not once has anyone ever said anything or breezed me, heck when we get to the light people won't even look at me.

This is certainly not scientific but to me it proves one thing, it's not that other road users "can't" see us, it's that they "won't" unless they think they have some skin in the game.
Could be... when you're on your expensive road bike in full kit, they perceive you to be a holier-than-thou with a better than average income. While on the other hand, riding the ol' Schwinn Varsity dressed in jeans and t-shirt, they think you're some Joe down on his luck that can't afford a car, and feel sorry for ya.
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Old 05-12-19, 11:02 AM
  #49  
base2 
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I have some ponderings about when people in the USA use that spelling of behavior, but I am going to keep them to myself.
...and colour still has a "u" in it.
America is a diverse place.
If it helps: Think of these little idiosyncrasies of "not incorrect" spelling as a dialect; Little indicators of a persons personal history.
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Old 05-12-19, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
...and colour still has a "u" in it.
America is a diverse place.
If it helps: Think of these little idiosyncrasies of "not incorrect" spelling as a dialect; Little indicators of a persons personal history.
Or eccentricities. As many of us may prefer to think of them. 🤪
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