6

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?

Background

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.

Solutions

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.

  • 2
    Just get out of his way. You know you can't reason with the guy, so don't bother trying. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 21 '15 at 23:02
  • 3
    In some countries (Czech Republic and others) if a bike lane is available you must use it. Also you acted like a douchbag cyclist - you should have had let him passed you if you could - you share the road you don't own the road – Jerryno Jun 22 '15 at 13:18
  • 2
    @cherouvim Wow - must be some really good bike lanes where you come from. In my country the bike lanes are often covered with litter, stones, broken glass and parked cars as you said. On a bike lane you also have to cede right of way at every driveway and side road, meaning its hard to actually make decent progress. That's why I mostly ride on the road. – Qwerky Jun 23 '15 at 12:31
  • 1
    We (in Greece) are still pretty primitive in regards to cycling. Bike lanes are sometimes used by parked cars as well. – cherouvim Jun 23 '15 at 12:47
  • 2
    @cherouvim: 5 of my 7 actual or near car-bike accidents were while on a bike path (4x nearly taken out by a car doing a sharp turn onto a side road and ignoring the partially-separated bike lane, collision often prevented by me instead sliding out on the ground; 1x being doored while on an integrated bike lane) and two spill-outs were caused by bad conditions on a bike path (sliding on black ice while trying to turn left from the far right-hand bike lane rather than using the left turn lane; slipping on wet pavement also broken from tree roots); Bike lanes = death. – errantlinguist Jun 24 '15 at 6:36
13

Pull off the road sooner. Sure, you have a right to be there, but it was quite clear that this creep wasn't prepared to accept that. Your safety is more important than taking the lane.

Noting his license-plate number and car make/model as he vanishes into the distance isn't a bad idea either, in case you see him again.

  • So basically I should re-calibrate my Crazy Meter to sound the alarm at much lower levels of Crazy?-- I only realized he was following me after I made some turns onto less-arterial roads (as the probability of him needing to go the exact same way diminishes with each turn). – errantlinguist Jun 22 '15 at 10:55
  • Yeah, I think so. Unfortunate, but safer. – D.Salo Jun 22 '15 at 22:42
  • 2
    @errantlinguist : My Crazy Meter would start pinging the instant he started honking and shouting, because that's not how a well-adjusted individual should behave. Be careful with one-finger salutes; they are basically an open invitation to confrontation. And someone in a motor vehicle is not someone you want to confront while on a bike. You could even provoke a rational individual to follow you around for a while with that finger. – Unknown Zombie Jun 23 '15 at 19:48
  • 1
    @UnknownZombie: Unfortunately, (especially in that particular part of town) you get used to people shouting at you from cars while on a bike. The probability increases with the amount of hair gel and creatine they use and if they are in a BMW or Audi. I suppose I got a bit too used to it. – errantlinguist Jun 25 '15 at 15:58
5

Call the police.

Get his plate number, his description and report him to the authorities. Idiots like that are too thick to talk to, it takes an officer to get through to them.

Call the cops while you're riding, tell them you fear for your safety and let them hear the idiot shouting at you.

  • Even looking like you are calling can help. While I am the author of this How to get over anger at inconsiderate drivers answer, I have found that if a driver becomes aggressive then reciting their registration number gives them the message that you know who to report. – andy256 Jun 22 '15 at 5:36
  • 1
    I wanted to call the police but felt like I had at most a minute to solve the problem. Also, using a smart phone while on a road bike is not the easiest thing to do even when not scared for your life-- and is illegal where I live (and, trust me, they will call me on it even when my life is potentially in danger). – errantlinguist Jun 22 '15 at 5:44
  • I don't necessarily agree that this is a good answer. Police can only assist if they witness what is going on, so unless you are extremely lucky and happen to pass by a police officer during the event this won't be useful advice. You're much better off pulling off the road and getting into a well-populated area. A police officer can't go confront the owner of the license plate after-the-fact, simply because there's no way for him to know if you're being truthful or if you're just messing with the driver because you have a grudge with him. – Unknown Zombie Jun 23 '15 at 19:57
2

Since buying a camera i have experienced very few instances of road rage. As soon as a driver starts with the anger i just point to the camera and ask them to smile for youtube. you can get decent helmet cams for arounf 30 quid if you look around.

  • And you can probably make something that looks like a camera for even less. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 20 '15 at 22:09
1

I thankfully never was in that situation, but if the driver doesn't let you go or is getting out of the car, use the bike's advantages over the car :

  • Go in the wrong direction in a one-way (using the sidewalk if need be)
  • Go off the road using pedestrian's facilities (sidewalk, park)
  • Change direction quickly or go back the other way on the same road

All these are hard for a car to keep up, sure you might annoy some pedestrians and might be illegal in some places, but it's still better than having the crap beat out of you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.