Someone must have sent out a memo today to the Tontitown area. Probably read something like this, “dear motorists, please harass all cyclists on the roadways. The closer you can get your vehicle to the cyclists the better. Extra points if you stop, get out of your vehicle, yell, posture and drive off.”
The Sunday ONYX ride was going great until we hit Arbor Acres Rd. Let me set the scene. A vehicle “buzzed the tower” accelerated more than necessary passing part of our cycling group. Someone from our group reached out to establish a line of communication with a
friendly hand gesture commonly known as the bird. When the motorist passed the front group he replied in kind with the bird and someone from the front group responded of course with…the bird. So…there were a lot of birds flying. This led to brake lights, vehicle posturing & eventually the infamous pull over. I just assumed the motorist was wanting to have a deeper more meaningful conversation and wasn’t satisfied with hand gestures. It’s kind of like when someone calls instead of texts.
For whatever reason I felt obligated to throw myself into it and make “first contact” with the creature and his large black spaceship. I think I said something like, “hey, what’s going on”. My tone was not aggressive. He was a large man. Probably 6-2/250. He replied, “You guys need to have more respect.” I replied, “we do try to respect motorists.” His response, “you guys were taking up the whole road (right lane) and when I passed, someone gave me…wait for it…the bird.” Then he stated that he lives out here and that he is a cop. Thennnnnnnn, someone from our group replied, “why did you flip us off”. For a moment I thought the situation might defuse but this seemed to lump hot coals onto his forehead. He said some not so post friendly things, got into his vehicle and drove off.
I was talking with one of the guys in the group about the incident. We discussed what our group did wrong. How could we have better managed the situation. Which turned into the perfect topic for a post. Thanks Keith S.
Things to consider and questions you should ask yourself before the situation occurs.
1- You will almost always lose when a angry person has a
1000lb 4000lb weapon on their side.
2- When should you fight fire with fire?
3- When should you hold your tongue?
4- What is your goal?
5- Have you considered the long term effects?
6- Is Johnny Law on the ride?
7- Do you realize you are wearing colorful stretchy pants and riding a bicycle?
8- Is your cell phone out and ready? Have you taken a picture of the license plate?
9- Where is the next STRAVA segment?
10- Do I want to escalate or defuse?
All kidding aside. These interactions occur from time to time and we as cyclists should be prepared. I would love to know your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below. I will follow up with a tips for cyclists dealing with angry motorists posts.
Please add about 3000lbs to your figure for a more realistic weight of the weapon. 🙂 It really boils down to education on the part of the motorists who haven’t a clue that we are a vehicle on the road the same as a car or truck.
Right or wrong the car/truck horn right behind me is one of my biggest motorist pet peeves. Had a guy in a big Ram diesel truck do that to me down @ BDB100 at a time when I was sort of by myself and gave him the bird. Guy stopped in the road ahead of me but thankfully he took off after a few seconds. I’ve since adapted a strategy of not even acknowledging them in any way/shape/form.
I try to picture myself fighting/wrestling with someone while wearing my cycling shoes. I can barely walk safely on dry pavement, so my right hook probably isn’t going to connect. I just ignore angry drivers.
As an enforcer of the law you would think he would know better, drive more responsible and have control of his anger. Hopefully he was just having a bad day and that’s not the real him. Road rage!
I must refrain from what I think is the best course of action with the window lickers that grace the same pavement we travel upon.
I wonder what it feels like to get kicked in the face with a speedplay cleat? oh and how many watts will the kick generate?
No need to worry about Johnny Law when the real law is on the ride
Stay cool and provide a friendly wave communicating “Sorry to hold you up”. That is how you build mutual respect (my two cents).
I agree with Martin, I always just smile and wave…but I understand how most drivers feel about cyclists because the majority of cyclists seem to think they own the road. You get what you give…that’s what I think anyway…
Please qualify the statement…..”the majority of cyclists think they own the road”.
I will bite on Spencer’s question. I find myself frustrated and irritated at the way some ride within our group. Some blow red lights, stop signs and will pass a vehicle that just passed us if they stop at a light. These are things that do not further our standing within the community. It is important for ALL of us to obey the same laws they must obey so we do not give a window licker the bit of fuel he/she needs to go into window licking mode. In addition, I try to be as friendly as possible and wave etc, which has led to several waves and people leaving me plenty of space on my normal loop.
If all else fails and it is time to knuckle up, be sure you have the boa system on your shoes so you can get them off fast enough!!
Hayes you must be off work today with the free time to post. 🙂 I agree about passing a car that has just passed us and then jumping the queue to get in front. However I will cautiously approach red lights if I am first in line and then proceed. Seems the biggest complaint is that cyclists impede motorists and jump red lights or stop signs. They want it both ways then don’t they? Pissed if I’m riding and impeding them but then pissed if I can safely get through an intersection without stopping to not hold them up at a light or stop sign. FML.
Kindness and courtesy go a long way in most instances. But every now and then…
I do agree with Hayes. We cyclists can be pricks on the roadways. I see it all the time.
I always just wave politely to someone angry at me (for wearing spandex I presume) and it has never resulted in further escalation. The big spaceship is not thinking rationally by the time they are pissed off enough to communicate it’s displeasure to you, so gesturing back something mean at that point will usually set off another pissed off reaction.
A friend once told me that a smile gives you miles. One can extend that idea to cycling on the road by getting eye contact with a driver, smiling, waving the car around. Remember to use all your fingers when waving the car around. 🙂
I have been riding a bike since 1986. I do not profess to be fast but I have learned a few things in those 28 years. Unless a motorist makes an aggressive move you should NOT respond. Here is the rational. Making the motorist angry effects future events. That same motorist will be passing cyclist in the future. He or she will decide whether to have patience or take chances. Whether to be considerate or belligerent. They don’t “learn” from you flipping them off. Plus I think it is reasonable for them to be frustrated at us. They are trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. We are stacked across the road fighting for the draft. The motorists have no idea how much we suffer or why it is necessary to assume that formation. Since they can not appreciate the dynamics of how we ride, we should allow them to drive by, accelerate in defiance and even honk at us if it makes them feel better. Again. Reacting doesn’t serve any purpose. It just worsens an already bad relationship. NOW. If a driver passes excessively close or swerves toward us its completely different. In that case all gestures and words are fair game. Its just that we need to decide when we really need to respond and when to just continue to ride and let it go. Btw. That driver may have deserved that initial bird. I didn’t notice. By the time he passed us he gave room so this is not making any judgement on the initial response.
Well said Keith.
#6 is a must when a confrontation is in order. I would have at least called his reaction BS. John, you only know the law, you aren’t The Law.
Just for this particular encounter, as Keith suggested, gotten license #, call local police to see if he was impersonating an officer. Proceed accordingly if wanted to press the issue. Sometimes it’s hard to turn the other cheek. Always try to diffuse if at all possible. Has not always been my style to do this, but considering the fact that you are along the side of the road, something much more tragic could transpire. From what you have stated, sounds to me like you guys did very well in keeping the encounter from escalating. Thanks for bringing this up & requesting other’s input.