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Today I was riding ~3 feet out from parked cars (dooring is the most common way to get killed) and this pickup truck comes up behind me and just lays on its horn for an entire block. The driver was also revving his engine and coming within a foot or two of my back wheel.

The driver intentionally cut me off forcing me to swerve to avoid the back of their truck. As he passed me the passenger rolled down his window and informed me (using very crude language) that I should get off the road.

I have had three or four incidents like this in the last year and I am getting increasingly infuriated by them. They have all been on residential streets that drivers are using to avoid the city's arteries. I do my best to be courteous and don't accept this behaviour.

I think that I need to do something so that I don't end up throwing my bike through someone's windshield doing something inappropriate.

I have been considering getting a camera on my bike but wonder if this would be useful.

Question: Has anyone ever contacted their local police regarding aggressive drivers? Were the police helpful? Would video evidence be useful? (I suspect that a camera would help to remember an aggressive driver's information even if video evidence was not required by the police).

Question: In the case of an accident would video evidence be useful to press criminal charges against a driver? If I am injured would video evidence be useful if I wanted to seek damages in civil court?

I live in Ontario, Canada.

Related: "Is complaining to companies about bad driving like howling at the moon?"

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It's going to depend on your local laws. On the coast, I've heard that other drives reporting bad drivers needed to include a description of the driver because the owner could claim they'd loaned the vehicle out. Getting charges laid doesn't mean it will make it to court -- there's a two year limit out here. The case gets thrown out if the court can't hear the case in time. There will always be idiots, sadly. I've had similar -- some cut me off, some have thrown fast food & beverages at me, etc. –  OMG Ponies May 16 '12 at 4:04
    
At the least optimistic point of view, for sure if the camera is plainly visible (even if it is turned off or even just a toy or broken camera), most drivers will back off and just go away. Dressing to look like (not too much like) traffic officers is another way to cause confusion. –  heltonbiker May 16 '12 at 13:49
    
I have to say I have been thinking about getting a video camera after an incident last week where a van driver deliberately drove at me on the wrong side of the road, i.e. head on. There was no reason for the driver to be on the wrong side of the road. –  Skizz May 18 '12 at 9:15
    
I'm sorry to hear about the tailgater. That must have been terrifying. A tip for next time: If you're tailgated again, gradually slow down until the tailgater passes you. Did you get the license plate number, by the way? –  unforgettableid Jun 13 '13 at 19:07

3 Answers 3

I would talk with the local law enforcement first rather then "reporting". This does a couple of things that will actually help rather then hurt (in most cases). You are asking them for advice rather than being a "whining bike rider". Most cops are good guys that want to help out, but if you make it official, they HAVE to do paperwork. If you approach them more casually, often they will already know the offender and might just spread the word to their fellow officers that the driver of the particular truck has "already failed the attitude test".

Also, many cops are in shape and are bikers, runners, triathletes, etc. Ask around and I bet you'll find a couple in town that you can approach as an athlete first...again, by not making it official at first, you may allow them to fix the problem without causing them problems.

The cops may want it to get official as well, if they've gotten some complaints and want to shut the guy down be prepared to file a report.

On cameras: they are great for evidence, but do little to address the problem initially. They can't hurt, might help, but avoiding/fixing the problem needs to be priority.

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If you are "asking them for advice", then what sort of advice are you asking for? For example, "I would like advice about how to get you to arrest someone who committed assault with a deadly weapon." :) It just doesn't sound like a real request for advice. :) –  amcnabb May 17 '12 at 16:03
    
Exactly...sort of. It's about perception. In my other line of work we use the phrase "perception is reality" and it applies broadly throughout life. By presenting yourself to the LEO as a supplicant you provide them the opportunity to be the good guy. It works and allows you to handle something ugly with a smile on your face. –  Ken Hiatt May 17 '12 at 16:23

I'm convinced that the prevalence of cameras is changing the attitude of certain drivers.

For the last year or so, I've ridden with a helmet cam. I'm now on my second camera and I'm toying with mounting my old camera (lower definition, poorer lens) on the seat post to face to the rear.

It wasn't for this kind of situation, but it would certainly be useful as evidence. If you search YouTube there are many, many examples of similar behaviour. If the police can't or won't help, just publish the footage on the web - the driver will almost certainly never see it, but you never know.

I've had several situations where a rant from an angry driver has suddenly become an embarrassed silence when I've pointed out that they're being recorded and I'd be quite happy to post the results to YouTube, the police, their employers (this does work well if it's a work van or similar) ...

There have been several cases here in the UK where dangerous and aggressive driving has been prosecuted successfully solely on the basis of the cyclist's camera evidence.

On the civil side, I know personally of one accident victim who was knocked off his bike and whose claim was enormously aided by the footage from a cyclist behind them who had been wearing a camera. Anecdotal, I know, but he is certain that the claim was processed more smoothly because of the video recording.

If this seems like a good idea, the answers to what-is-a-good-camera-arrangement-for-city-riding or recommendations-for-inconspicuous-helmet-mounted-video-camera might be useful in finding an appropriate camera solution.

In the first case, though, I would definitely contact your local law enforcement agency. You never know, maybe this miscreant has done it before. If a handful of independent people all report them, there's an increasing chance of something being done. And you're raising awareness in the police that there are people willing to stand up and complain.

It might also be worth talking to your local councilor - ask about what they might consider doing to make life safer for their electorate ...

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Agreed, and the intimidating factor might be achieved even if the camera is fake. –  heltonbiker May 16 '12 at 13:50

I had a similar incident (horn blowing, screaming, and attempted assault with his vehicle) and did report it with plate number and description. The interviewing officer told me they'd have to identify me to the driver. Since I didn't trust the him not to seek me out to retaliate, I only left it as a report in case of a future offense.

Then the officer tried to tell me I shouldn't have been riding there anyway (a main street, not a highway or other restricted place) then covered his butt by disclaiming: "of course, I can't tell you not to ride there..."

I got a sense of the "oh, it's only a bike..." attitude.

Milford, NH PD, if anyone's interested.

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