A few weeks ago I had my first experience where I really worried for my well-being at the hands of an angry motorist-- so, what can a cyclist do when being threatened and followed by a motorist?
I was riding on a road with a lot of parked cars as well as driveways, so I was riding somewhat more "center" than what a certain guy was happy with, because he shouted at me to get off the road and onto the bike lane after honking and trying to overtake me. I told him that I don't have to because cyclists have the same legal rights to surface roads that motorists do, and then rode even closer to the center to keep him from dangerously trying to pass me. He then began shouting obscenities at me while driving behind me, so I gave him the one-fingered salute, which he, his wife and son all reciprocated in a perfect Kodak moment.
I admit that what I did was the antithesis of mitigating road rage, but I also admit that, until now, I (foolishly) never expected to meet someone on the road who might willingly hurt me: At the next traffic light, he told me to pull over so we could discuss this face-to-face, and I said: "No: I don't have to do that either". What began to scare me is that, after losing him in traffic, he managed to catch up to me and began following me for a very long time and glaring at me. Eventually I pulled quickly off onto the sidewalk and put my keys from my bag into my pocket (it was the sharpest thing I had), but luckily he had to follow the flow of traffic and he didn't meet me again on the road.
My safest course of action would have been to avoid provoking the driver in the first place, but I honestly had no expectation that telling a driver about traffic laws could provoke someone into a potentially-murderous rage; Even if I became a mouse on a bike, the possibility of (inadvertently) enraging someone will remain, no matter how small it may be. Therefore, my question is what someone can do in a case where even trying to prevent road rage has failed and they now face the unadulterated wrath of the Gods of the Exploding Dinosaurs-- I really don't think the guy in the story above was intending on "discussing" the matter if he caught me off my bike.