This topic has brought up some interesting discussion and some great points in the comments section in my previous post. Click here to view comments. We cyclists are sometimes quick to blame and not own up to our own faults. “Share the road” works both ways. I often see cyclists not respecting the rules of the road, the very rules that protect them. We tend to develop a us against them mentality which ends up being detrimental more often than not. I think we as a community need to have a big picture goal. That goal should be to do whatever we can to gain motorists & law enforcement’s respect on the roadways. When we end up getting into verbal tussles with motorists we have effectively deepened that persons disdain for cyclists. Which can create a ticking time bomb.
10 suggestions/tips for dealing with a angry motorist.
1- Determine if the situation is safe. This one can be hard to distinguish at times.
2- Have a goal. Why not try to defuse the situation, hoping to create respect instead of disdain for cyclists.
3- You most likely will not win a fight when the angry person has a 4000lb weapon at their disposal. Always keep this in mind.
4- Your cell phone is your best friend. Take a picture of the license plate or even just act like you are. Believe it or not we have had instances where contacting authorities and giving them a license plate has actually led to the motorist being tracked down and given a talking to.
5- Fight fire with fire. Choose this one wisely. Why return the bird with the bird? What does this accomplish?
6- Focus on humanizing yourself to the motorist. You are a father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter etc.
I had a interaction with a motorist years ago. After almost getting clipped by his mirror, I was able to catch him at a stop light and he pulled over. After a few deep breathes and counting to 10. I was able to calmly tell him that he endangered my life when he passed too close. He apologized and I asked him to be careful next time. I could see he was legitimately sorry. It doesn’t always work out this way but why not give conversation a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
7- Have you ever been frustrated by a car that is moving too slow while you are driving? Perhaps it’s two college kids on a painfully slow scooter. Put yourself in their
shoes car. It’s important to get to the root of their frustration and understand where they are coming from.
8- Don’t lead out with…well I am a tax payer and we have a right to the road. This does nothing to defuse the situation. Remember the goal is to try and encourage respect for the cyclist not disdain. Think about how many more times you plan to ride that same route and all the other cyclists using that route.
9- Know when to
walk ride away. If it turns into a yelling match just walk ride away. At a certain point nothing is going to get accomplished.
10- As Josh H mentioned. Hope you are using the Boa enclosure system. Getting into a physical altercation in your cycling shoes is a lose-lose. But be prepared to defend yourself. It is rare but one of the risks you take by confronting a angry motorist.
All this to say. Think long term, beyond the current situation. Cycling is growing like crazy here and we will be taking up more space on the roads for years to come. It’s important that we try to gain respect not disdain from motorists and law enforcement. If you have any other suggestion/tips please share them in the comments section below. As always thanks for following!
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