Author Topic: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?  (Read 18450 times)

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Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« on: May 27, 2014, 10:12:04 AM »
So, first, I'll clarify my situation.  I'm a 6'4" young male college student.  I have short 2-mile bike ride between work and home, and I have beautiful, wide bike lanes for all but about 200 yards of the trip.

My question is:

Why do car passengers feel the need to whistle, yell, and otherwise try to engage bikers minding their own business in the bike lane?

I have done nothing to solicit or in retaliation to the attention, and I assume that Indianapolis is simply not used to bike culture, but I was wondering if anyone had any insights on the behavior.

skunkfunk

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 10:18:49 AM »
Do they think you're being a jerk? That's all that I can figure when I get honked at for minding my own business.

Guses

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 10:21:07 AM »
They might be in awe of your badassity?

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 10:29:48 AM »
Do they think you're being a jerk? That's all that I can figure when I get honked at for minding my own business.

So, we'll say over the course of a couple months, I

1. was given a cat-call whistle whilst on a sidewalk.
2. was yelled at (no words) in passing, which could've been an attempt to startle me?
3. was asked "You like that bike, don't you?" in a semi-snarling tone late at night.  I assume the lady passenger had been drinking.

I'm not sure they think I'm a jerk.  Perhaps they're latching onto the idea that I stand out in some way.  It brings to mind the article MMM had about having haters in the comments section on other sites,
They might be in awe of your badassity?
which is more in line with Guses' question.  :/

geekette

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 10:30:30 AM »
You're a novelty and they're bored?  Do you think women do anything to get wolf whistles?

eta:  When my sisters and I were in our teens riding our horses along country roads, we'd get honked at quite often.  Good thing we had calm horses, but it just doesn't make sense why people would startle a half ton unpredictable animal with a kid on it!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 10:52:03 AM by geekette »

Russ

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 10:33:37 AM »
Where I live, the majority of yellers don't like you and are trying to discourage you. Some think it's amusing to see you jump. A few think it's amusing simply that you exist, and talk to you in the same sense one would talk to a zoo animal or tell a runner to "Run, Forrest, run". Even fewer are trying to offer encouragement. This assumes you're riding safely and legally; you'll get a whole different set of yells if you are not.

Not much you can do about it aside from not letting it startle you too much.

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2014, 10:47:07 AM »
You're a novelty and they're bored?  Do you think women do anything to get wolf whistles?

Sadly, this is probably a great explanation.  I just wish there were a simple solution.

Where I live, the majority of yellers don't like you and are trying to discourage you. Some think it's amusing to see you jump. A few think it's amusing simply that you exist, and talk to you in the same sense one would talk to a zoo animal or tell a runner to "Run, Forrest, run". Even fewer are trying to offer encouragement. This assumes you're riding safely and legally; you'll get a whole different set of yells if you are not.

Not much you can do about it aside from not letting it startle you too much.

Thanks.  I've heard my share of "Run, Forrest, run!"s as well.  Ignoring it is probably the best thing to do.  But a well-placed egg would make for a priceless story...   

Will

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 10:52:14 AM »
Years ago when I still lived in Indianapolis, I had a similar thing happen as I would bike by Arsenal Tech HS on my way to work.  Students would actually jump off of the sidewalk to yell at me or threaten to steal my less-than-fancy bike.  I chalked it up to the immaturity of the students, as I was certainly doing nothing to provoke any kind of a reaction.  Some people are just jerks (even on this forum!). 

kyanamerinas

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2014, 10:54:55 AM »
unfortunately all you can do is ignore them. i've had people threaten to run me over (no bike lane, revving engine behind me) or similar more than once. quite disturbing.

BlueMR2

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 11:00:11 AM »
Why do car passengers feel the need to whistle, yell, and otherwise try to engage bikers minding their own business in the bike lane?

Dunno.  It's rare event for that to happen to me while cycling, it happens more often when walking, and is almost guaranteed to happen if I'm running.  I just file under "people are stupid".

fwttg

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2014, 11:08:29 AM »


Where I live, the majority of yellers don't like you and are trying to discourage you. Some think it's amusing to see you jump. A few think it's amusing simply that you exist, and talk to you in the same sense one would talk to a zoo animal or tell a runner to "Run, Forrest, run". Even fewer are trying to offer encouragement. This assumes you're riding safely and legally; you'll get a whole different set of yells if you are not.

Not much you can do about it aside from not letting it startle you too much.

Haha! This is both funny and true.

I vividly recall changing a flat tire on a busy highway. We were pulled well over to the shoulder and the wheel was on the passenger side so not directly exposed to traffic.

For the most part, I'm not uncomfortable with traffic. On occasion I ride my bicycle on a short stretch of the same highway and I've ridden up the Coquihalla highway in BC from Hope to the summit.

However, the first few minutes changing that tire were terrifying! Drivers leaned on their horns and people yelled all kinds of things. About 5 minutes in I came to the same conclusion as Russ, took a deep breath and pushed that distraction out of my head.

People are funny (stupid). Try not to take it personally :)

frugaliknowit

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2014, 11:10:27 AM »
Jealous!  They're just jealous of your badass studliness on your bike!  Take it as a compliment.

zarfus

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2014, 11:11:50 AM »
Answer: the same reason people driving by a golf course yell "FORE!!".  It's just so funny!!!!!  /sarcasm

greenmimama

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2014, 11:15:45 AM »
I don't know my DH tells me some of the weird things that have happened to him in his years of commuting, one of the funniest:

He was riding and an older car, pulls up and goes the same pace as him, the guy rolls down his window, not sure what to do until the guy yells, "hey I'll trade you straight up, bike for car" :)

Maybe it was someone from this forum :)


hoodedfalcon

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2014, 11:46:08 AM »
A few weeks ago, some people in an SUV yelled something at me as they passed me. Unfortunately for them, they were caught by a red light up the street. So I pull up next to them to find a car full of college kids. They had their windows down. So I pull over to driver side and say "So, was there something you guys wanted to say to me?" They were so completely flustered it was pretty amazing. We ended up chatting (longest red light of my life) and they seemed genuinely amazed that someone would ride their bike in 90 degree weather. I asked them to please thing twice before yelling at a cyclist and they seemed receptive. I am sure the second they pulled off they were cracking up and talking so much shit, but maybe they won't yell at a cyclist again?

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2014, 12:14:56 PM »
Some people are just jerks (even on this forum!).
Answer: the same reason people driving by a golf course yell "FORE!!".  It's just so funny!!!!!  /sarcasm
People are funny (stupid). Try not to take it personally :)

Alright.  People are jerks.  Avoid when possible.  Haha.  Thanks all.

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2014, 12:16:29 PM »
unfortunately all you can do is ignore them. i've had people threaten to run me over (no bike lane, revving engine behind me) or similar more than once. quite disturbing.

That is scary...

Fonzico

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2014, 12:21:33 PM »

For the most part, I'm not uncomfortable with traffic. On occasion I ride my bicycle on a short stretch of the same highway and I've ridden up the Coquihalla highway in BC from Hope to the summit.


Um... can we just stop for a moment and appreciate your baddassity!? You, my friend, are a brave individual - driving up the Coquihalla terrifies me (I'm Albertan, we like our roads straight and flat), I CANNOT IMAGINE biking it! Go, you.

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2014, 12:23:13 PM »
cracking up and talking so much shit, but maybe they won't yell at a cyclist again?

One can only hope.  That definitely took some courage though to strike up a conversation.

Sparafusile

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2014, 12:23:54 PM »
A couple weeks ago I went for a ride and got yelled at, honked, and cut off more times in the span of 2 miles than I had all last year. One guy in a gas guzzling behemoth of a truck suggested loudly that should be on the sidewalk (there wasn't one and it's illegal here). A couple people honked at me. A couple more honked at me while cutting me off and yelling 4-letter words. This happened on a day most people around here consider holy.

Some people are ignorant assholes and there's not a lot you can do. I have been a little more nervous than usual the past week, but so far no more incidents.

andrew

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2014, 12:29:34 PM »
People are morons, plain and simple.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2014, 12:33:37 PM »
cracking up and talking so much shit, but maybe they won't yell at a cyclist again?

One can only hope.  That definitely took some courage though to strike up a conversation.

It probably wasn't the brightest move on my part, as I had no idea what to expect when I pulled up to their car. Sometimes I get pissed and the anger takes over. :)

Nancy

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2014, 12:39:11 PM »
Yeah, people in their cars can be like anonymous posters on the Internet. I had a guy howl at me-like a wolf-the other day. I was also heckled by some terrible teenagers one night. I find it amusing as long as they don't threaten me in anyway.

lsaurus

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2014, 12:46:09 PM »
I get a car passenger screaming at me once a week or so.  It's usually when I am in the bike lane.  I think they do it to scare me and it does! It always makes me jump and my heart starts racing. I hate it but there isn't much I can do, I just ignore it and keep pedaling.  I just assume they are insecure and think it's fun to scare people.  I also get people telling me I need to stay far to the right, especially at intersections where there is a right turn lane.  If I'm not turning right there is no way I'm staying in the right turn lane, I don't want a car to turn into me as I go straight at the light.  I think that one is mostly ignorance, they don't realize that it is much safer for me to be in the lane going straight and it's legal for me to be there.

Villanelle

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2014, 12:51:50 PM »
I guess it's a new experience for most men to be harassed by strangers for absolutely no reason, but it is--sadly--part of the female experience.  People are assholes.  There will never be more of an explanation than that. 


Greg

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2014, 12:57:08 PM »
As someone who hates to ride in cars (I'd rather drive) I can say the passengers are probably quite bored.

And as men say to women all the time, take most attention as a compliment despite that you didn't want it.  Smile, you'll look more handsome.  Are you wearing tight shorts?  Then you're asking for attention.

Also, jealousy might be in play. 

former player

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2014, 01:09:16 PM »
Because you are on a bike rather than in a car, you have taken yourself outside the norm as seen by car drivers.  That means you can be treated as lesser, and are open to being abused.  See the "everyday sexism project" for how men treat women for an inkling of how these car drivers are seeing you.

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2014, 01:12:52 PM »
A person on a bicycle is too damned sexy for them to hold back.  :D

Russ

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2014, 01:18:12 PM »
And as men say to women all the time, take most attention as a compliment despite that you didn't want it.  Smile, you'll look more handsome.  Are you wearing tight shorts?  Then you're asking for attention.

can't tell if serious
or pointing out how ridiculous it is that people say any of that

Greg

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2014, 02:17:50 PM »
And as men say to women all the time, take most attention as a compliment despite that you didn't want it.  Smile, you'll look more handsome.  Are you wearing tight shorts?  Then you're asking for attention.

can't tell if serious
or pointing out how ridiculous it is that people say any of that

A little of both... I started to say to just take it as a compliment, but then realized how that would sound if said to a woman... and decided to make a point with it.  So, joking but serious if that makes sense.

MidwestGal

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2014, 02:25:03 PM »
My family has only recently begun bike commuting part-time, and for the most part folks will pass with room to spare.  There aren't too many female bike commuters here though, so if a male bike commuter merits attention then a female absolutely MUST be catcalled or barked at by the folks who can't drive nicely.  For some reason it's popular to bark at bikers near where I reside.

I agree with y'all above who say that inconsiderate car folks are just trying to get a rise out of us, unfortunately.

AlexK

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2014, 02:26:59 PM »
I've had this kind of thing happen many times. Once my friend had something thrown at him pretty hard and he stopped riding because of it. We could think of only one solution: open carry. I bet nobody would say anything if you had a loaded AK47 strapped to your back.

luigi49

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #32 on: May 27, 2014, 03:39:13 PM »
same reason people yell when you are walking on the sidewalks.  No difference.

Sometimes if you are alone in a car they harass you if there are 5 of them in the car.  No difference.   


Cressida

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2014, 03:59:00 PM »
yes. Some people are just plain assholes.

I remember once reading a blog comment that said something like, "I love to sneeze really loudly and suddenly, because then I can laugh at how much it startles people." WTF? Sometimes I want to move to Mars.

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2014, 04:06:08 PM »
I've had this kind of thing happen many times. Once my friend had something thrown at him pretty hard and he stopped riding because of it. We could think of only one solution: open carry. I bet nobody would say anything if you had a loaded AK47 strapped to your back.

I came within millimeters of being beaned in the head with an entire 2 liter FULL bottle of coke once while bicycling. Went whizzing by right in front of my nose. I about had a heart attack. I think if it had hit me I might not be riding today.

Just yesterday as I was riding straight through a light I had some moron cab driver gun it around me on my right and then make a left hand turn across my path. He had his window down and I had some choice words to scream at him. He seemed surprised I yelled at him. I still have no idea what he was thinking. The kicker? This is the SECOND time I've had this exact same scenario happen.

Nothlit

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2014, 04:41:53 PM »
A week or so ago I was biking through the center of my town, where the road is two lanes in each direction, but low-speed (25 mph limit) because it is a busy pedestrian shopping district. I was in the middle of the right-hand lane in order to avoid the door zone of the adjacent parallel parking. Cars could easily pass me by merging left into the next lane, or they could honestly just stay behind me because I wasn't riding any slower than the rest of traffic. As I approached one red light, I slowed to stop, and heard a female teenage driver in the car next to me say (not yell) "What the f*** are you doing?" Her windows were open, but I don't think she realized I could hear her, because when I turned to look at her and said "What?" she went stone-faced, turned up the radio, and stared straight ahead, like she was embarrassed and afraid to make eye contact with me.

William

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2014, 05:03:05 PM »
I believe it's because them being in a car and you on a bike makes them feel more powerful. Humans like exploiting a feeling of power.

I bike each day and get the same type of mild harassment as you.

Hedge_87

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2014, 05:30:18 PM »
I've just started biking to work last week and I've noticed that every one in town that I know thinks it is HILARIOUS when they come up behind me to blare their horn at me or fake run me over. Idiots. The bad thing is these are friends lol.

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GuitarStv

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2014, 06:17:14 PM »
I've had this kind of thing happen many times. Once my friend had something thrown at him pretty hard and he stopped riding because of it. We could think of only one solution: open carry. I bet nobody would say anything if you had a loaded AK47 strapped to your back.



?

furrychickens

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2014, 08:39:10 PM »
There are neighborhoods I used to ride through that I don't anymore, because dumb kids kept trying to run me down.

Lots of car drivers like to give unsolicited advice. Sometimes I get angry and teach my kids new words. Usually I shake my head and laugh.

Gin1984

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2014, 08:51:01 PM »
I guess it's a new experience for most men to be harassed by strangers for absolutely no reason, but it is--sadly--part of the female experience.  People are assholes.  There will never be more of an explanation than that.
I was just thinking the same.  Wait, this is a new experience for you?  Nice for you.

horsepoor

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2014, 10:40:41 PM »
I believe it's because them being in a car and you on a bike makes them feel more powerful. Humans like exploiting a feeling of power.

I bike each day and get the same type of mild harassment as you.

Yup.  I get yelled at occasionally when I'm out running.  It's usually by some douchebag 20-something dudes in a jacked up pickup truck with a Monster energy drink sticker on the window and a pair of truck nuts.  They're seeking out a really lame way to seem masculine or agressive or something, while secretly feeling inadequate because they probably couldn't run 100 yards if chased.


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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2014, 12:07:23 AM »
I guess it's a new experience for most men to be harassed by strangers for absolutely no reason, but it is--sadly--part of the female experience.  People are assholes.  There will never be more of an explanation than that.
I was just thinking the same.  Wait, this is a new experience for you?  Nice for you.
It's actually less of an issue when riding a bike compared with walking, I've found.

SU

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2014, 01:13:54 AM »
I can't explain the behaviour but I have a story that I use to cheer myself up.

A friend told me that they were doing a bunch ride along the beach one day, and a driver in a convertible with a peroxide blonde in the passenger seat was being really aggressive towards them - driving too close, boxing them in... all the annoying and unsafe behaviours.

Both the driver and the cyclists had to stop at a red light. The lead rider didn't say anything to the driver but just before the lights went green he leaned into the car, took the keys out of the ignition, and dropped them into a storm drain.

train_writer

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2014, 01:46:29 AM »
We could think of only one solution: open carry. I bet nobody would say anything if you had a loaded AK47 strapped to your back.



I quote "the bicycle division was seen as an agile part of the army" (but no, they did not hold for very long in WWII)

The knitter

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #45 on: May 28, 2014, 06:48:25 AM »
I guess it's a new experience for most men to be harassed by strangers for absolutely no reason, but it is--sadly--part of the female experience.  People are assholes.  There will never be more of an explanation than that.
I was just thinking the same.  Wait, this is a new experience for you?  Nice for you.

This.

johnintaiwan

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2014, 07:35:52 AM »
I get yelled at a lot when I ride. it is mostly people excited/surprised to see a white guy in that area. I have a lot of u-turns and "herro haw a you!"'s get yelled at me, but it is always in an excited positive way.

Ottawa

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2014, 07:50:12 AM »
I find that since I started wearing a Contour Roam camera on my helmet...interactions have changed for the better!  I get a lot of questions from people like "Is that recording?"  "Why do you wear a camera?" "Cool!" 

These types of questions and comments from people in cars, school buses, on bikes, in stores, walking ... are a great opportunity to provide a little 'positive education'. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #48 on: May 28, 2014, 07:53:04 AM »
I've wondered about wearing a camera like that . . . it would certainly be handy to have in case of an accident.  How heavy are they, and how do they attach to the helmet?

scottydog

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Re: Biking - Unsolicited Attention from Car Passengers - Why?
« Reply #49 on: May 28, 2014, 08:05:32 AM »
I guess it's a new experience for most men to be harassed by strangers for absolutely no reason, but it is--sadly--part of the female experience.  People are assholes.  There will never be more of an explanation than that.

A friend shared this French short film which explores how it harassment look if the gender roles were reversed.  It's a bit NSFW (not safe for work, in case you had to look that up like I did) with some sexual violence and nudity, but it does a good job of highlighting how ridiculous and unfair the cultural gender norms are.  http://www.upworthy.com/a-french-film-showing-men-what-being-a-woman-feels-like-kinda

I've wondered about wearing a camera like that . . . it would certainly be handy to have in case of an accident.  How heavy are they, and how do they attach to the helmet?

I sometimes consider wearing a camera too.  I figure it might help convince the city to improve cycling infrastructure if I share some videos of problematic streets.  Knowing that I'm being recorded would also help me reign in my own temper; I'm usually very patient but I get quite upset when drivers do something stupid that might endanger my kids.