Author Topic: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident  (Read 13769 times)

SoCalLadyStache

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Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« on: July 27, 2014, 02:11:24 PM »
Hi Everyone,

I'm new here and have been having much success adopting many new mustachian ways into my lifestyle. I started carpooling/biking/busing about 4 weeks ago without incident-- until today. I haven't seriously ridden my bike in traffic in the past, so I have been doing a lot of reading on this site and on the biking links many of you have provided to gain confidence, ride safely and correctly.

I have been encouraging my husband to ride more as well, so today we went for a pleasure ride. I took the opportunity to practice some of the biking techniques I have been learning while he was riding with me for added confidence. Everything went fine...until we came to a short, narrow bridge with one lane going in each direction (double yellow line). There were many cars driving at slow speeds in both directions as it is a busy summer weekend day at the beach. In the past I would have hugged the shoulder or popped up onto the sidewalk and perhaps walked my bike across the bridge. Today I thought I would be brave and follow the advice I have been reading and pulled my bike out into the center of the lane to safely cross the bridge. The Land Rover behind me started honking his horn at me. I watched a video dealing with this situation and the biker stayed in the center of the lane until it was safe to let the car pass, so that is what I did. The driver continued to honk, even more aggressively. My husband pulled to the curb and yelled at me to do the same, but I resisted. I remained in the lane until the end of the bridge, where I stopped and signaled a left turn. The Land Rover pulled up next to me and the driver started yelling obscenities at me. I tried to emulate the friendly wave I saw in the example video. (This probably came across as an insincere "FU" sort of wave, but that was not my intention.)

I was a bit shaken after this so we rode to the nearest picnic table to take a break. A few minutes later the Land Rover pulls up, and the two men in the car start screaming at me, telling me I am a "law-breaking bitch" who is going to "get yourself killed". I futilely tried to explain my reason for riding in the center lane, but they continued to yell at me and berate me. We were in a very populated park area and everyone was staring at me. Eventually the Land Rover drove away. It was humiliating.

I have never experienced this degree of hate and anger directed toward me before. It took a good 30 minutes to regain my composure before I was forced to ride back across the bridge. I was really terrified at this point so my husband took the lead, and we hugged the curb. Many cars passed us, some at a safe distance and others very close. Traffic piled up at the end of the bridge and we were left without adequate space to ride on the shoulder or to move into the traffic lane. I got off my bike and walked on the sidewalk until the end of the bridge. Thankfully we did not encounter the Land Rover again.

Can any experienced bikers please explain to me if I did anything wrong in this situation? I want to ride my bike correctly but I also want to avoid any conflicts like this in the future. Is this type of reaction normal from drivers? I only slowed him down a minute or two-- if this is how people treat cyclists that ride correctly, then I will either continue to be a "sidewalk biker" (gasp) or will not bike at all. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 02:38:13 PM »
The only thing you could maybe have done differently is trying to cross the bridge faster as a courtesy to people behind you. I'm not saying you are wrong or even slow (I wasn't there), but there's nothing more infuriating to drivers than having someone take the entire lane at a whopping 8mph.

That being said, these guys were complete assholes.

sublime9528

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 02:45:39 PM »
I'm not an expert when it comes to cycling laws, but I think I have a sense of what was going on with that other driver.  First off, those guys were clearly jerks.  Period.  Even if what you were doing had been completely wrong, there's no reason to curse at people and follow them to where they parked to yell some more.  So that's that.

On another level, I think these guys were expressing a highly distilled kind of frustration that some/many car drivers get with cyclists.  And that is that bicycles are just plain slower than cars, and even in a situation like yours, where the cars were going slowly anyway, there is still this idea of "I'm driving on the road with another vehicle that is intrinsically slower than mine by a LOT".  And that is frustrating.  I'm a cyclist myself, but there have been times when I'm in a car trying to get somewhere quickly and there's a cyclist in front of me and I just HATE him.  I know that's an obvious sign that I'm living a rushed life, but that's what often happens to people.  The fact that bicyclists are more vulnerable than a car driver makes the situation even more frustrating - almost like a taunt. 

I think that in the US we're used to the idea that roads are the car's domain, and bicyclists are these slow, annoying intruders.  Dedicated bike lanes have improved this in some places, but it still isn't a perfect solution.  Other than the fact that the guys you were dealing with were uncivilized, angry people, I think we're in the process of a gradual cultural change regarding bike use. 

Anyway, that's my take on it. 

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 02:54:41 PM »
Now, I know nothing about biking or bike rules.  That being said, my take away from this situation is that the conflict was about him-not you.

That's it and that's all.

Perhaps you live in a bike unfriendly area or perhaps this was an anomoly. Either way, I'm sorry you were treated that way. You did not deserve to be treated that way.

My DH used to live in an Oklahoma military town and would run long distances in shorts with no shirt. He was frequently yelled at, berated for being gay (?!), and even had soda cans and a brick thrown at him. He understands that those reactions had nothing to do with him. I have to laugh about the 'gay' bit. What must these macho men have been so afraid of when they saw my sweaty, muscular, fit, shirtless husband? ;)

Anyhow, ride safely and don't let ass holes discourage you.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 03:18:42 PM »
It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong. Despite that, I think your husband had the right idea about pulling over and waiting until this person had passed. When confronted with aggressive drivers, they do have the ability and sometimes the inclination to hurt you. It doesn't matter if you're following the rules, your personal safety in a road rage incident should be your #1 priority - not proving a point.

I find it ironic that in their haste-driven rage, they took the time to track you down and yell at you.

When that happened, you should not have tried to explain. All you should have said (loudly) is, "I do not know you and I do not wish to speak with you. I will call the police if you continue to harass me." If they did anything further, you should have called 911 to report an in-progress road rage incident.

You do not know these people. You do not know if they are armed or if they will attempt to hurt you. You do not know if they will lie in wait in your route home to physically threaten you with their vehicle.

How would you have acted if you were just innocently walking down the street and these people had started yelling at you and they had turned around to stop their vehicle next to you to yell at you? Would you have tried to calmly reason with this crazy and potentially dangerous person? Just because you were on a bike doesn't mean you should have treated that scenario differently.

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 03:19:58 PM »
My DH (an avid weekend cyclist who has logged thousands and thousands of miles on the road over the years) said when I read him your story: "She didn't do anything wrong. That's what you're supposed to do."

He also said if you felt really threatened you could have called the police, but IMO that could have devolved into a messy situation and probably was not worth it.

frugledoc

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 03:27:19 PM »
FFS these people are nuts.  They do not see the irony in screaming abuse at you about being a law breaking bitch when they are breaking the law themselves by doing that - on several counts.

I effing hate aggressive assholes like this so much but I prefer to wind them up in these situations.  What did your husband do during all this? 

sheepstache

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 03:40:20 PM »
I agree with what everyone else has said about how to think about and react to this incident. 

I encourage everyone to follow the rules of the road.  However, for myself, I follow the saying that when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  People expect different behaviors from cyclists depending on the area.  It can have to do with how common cyclists are there, how the roads are designed, how seriously the car drivers themselves take the rules of the road, etc.  Personally, I would have no problem taking the sidewalk just for the bridge.  In my city, there are actually signs directing cyclists to walk their bike on the sidewalk over the bridge, presumably because there's no shoulder.  (Most cyclists ride the sidewalk rather than walking if there aren't too many pedestrians, it's a judgement call.)  You'll probably learn to adapt as you ride more.

PeteD01

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2014, 03:58:28 PM »
This is not a cycling but a road rage incident. Just happened to be a cyclist triggering the reaction.
The best thing when confronted with road rage is to retreat in the safest way possible as the perps are in a mentally disturbed state induced by rolling around in a seemingly impenetrable fortress and have lost their capability to reason.
In this particular case, given the choice of vehicle, the proper way to escalate, if so desired, would have been to ask them loudly what the payments on their POS are. I don't recommend that though....

Gray Matter

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 04:07:02 PM »
Before I started reading and questioning my assumptions about bicycles, I assumed they were meant to ride at the edge of roads and  on shoulders so cars could go past them.  Even then, I never would have done what this drive did (clear asshole who needs to learn how to relax).  Perhaps you could suggest to the city that they post a road sign on this bridge like ones I've noticed increasingly around here when the road narrows (e.g., no shoulder) instructing that "bicycles take entire lane."  I so appreciate these signs because they have educated me as a driver--I never really paid attention before to the width of the shoulder and now I do.  You should not have to be the one trying to educate ignorant drivers like this.

I also agree with other posters that the time to assert your rights is not when dealing with an enraged and unreasonable individual.  You were in the right, but unfortunately, I don't think any good will come of this and this jerk now probably has an even bigger vendetta against bikers.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 04:23:12 PM »
Sorry you had this experience.  It sounds like a bike unfriendly population.

It's hard to say without being there.  Picturing myself in a similar situation, when I am forced to hold
up traffic to make a left turn, I signal "way early" holding my arm out and at times even make a
flicker motion with my hand sort of saying "...hey, sorry, I gotta make this turn!"
Then again, I am in a bike friendly urban area...

Basically they are ahxles, so consider the source!

bikecob

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 04:39:44 PM »
Sounds like correct riding to me.  Its important to learn to see the problems and conflict areas ahead of time.  There is going to be a small percentage of people who are going to make dangerous decisions - its a risk you have to be good w/to ride(or drive or live for that matter) - riding in the correct place in the road is a matter or reducing the moronic decisions to a minimum.  If the road is too narrow for a decent pass, then moving over from the side of few feet is right - maybe not the center as that can be seen as a fu by drivers, but far engh that its obvious to the soccer mom that there is not room to pass and stay in the lane.  Also speed, when i'm doing near the speed limit(or speeding) taking the lane is safer.  I also avoid places where people are hyper if posssible - i would rather ride a bit more that deal with a shitty road(like all of kansas).  In the city i learned to take a ADC map page and ride it all -- there can be little trails between neighborhoods that are not on the map that can keep you off of the busier roads.

SoCalLadyStache

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 04:40:19 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. It helps a lot to know that I wasn't the crazy person in this scenario, although obviously I have a lot to learn about how to handle such events. I really had no idea at the time that this would escalate to the level that it did. If this happens again I will definitely keep my mouth shut because trying to reason with these people is pointless and just prolongs the interaction.

Riding with my husband probably made the situation worse instead of better. He has not studied how to ride his bike in traffic ("why are you riding in the middle of the road?! Don't be one of those people!!) and doesn't like to get off and walk if necessary. Had I been riding alone I probably would have chosen to walk my bike across the bridge in the first place. (Too many peds to ride on sidewalk.) That is what I will do in the future.

The suggestion to contact the city about signage is a great idea. The area in question is a very touristy location filled with bikes and pedestrians. Everyone would benefit from clearer instructions. Ironically it is a city that brags about it's "bike plan".

I am now thinking about getting a helmet camera. I suspect people will act more appropriately if they know they are being recorded.

electriceagle

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2014, 05:42:29 PM »
You did exactly what you are supposed to do.

Had you pulled closer to the side of the road, the guys in the land rover could have "accidentally" sideswiped you, causing an injury.

By staying in the center of the road in situations like this, you force the driver to choose between being frustrated but safe and an intentional assault that will put them in prison for the next decade or two.

Nearly all of the bicycle-vehicle collisions that I hear about are either sideswipes, dooring or right turn errors. Drivers nearly always choose the option that won't send them to jail.

The only thing that might have helped you is being more assertive. The next time that someone comes to find you and starts shouting obsenities at you, call 911. The issue of who is embarassed will change quickly, and you'll give them a teachable moment.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 05:53:47 PM »
I usually take a third of the lane, not the direct middle. Enough that people can't pass me in the lane, but not so much that they can't easily pass if there's no traffic in opposite direction.

How big of a gap was there between you and the last car ahead? Were you holding up traffic for a hundred feet or a quarter mile or more?

With the honking, knowing me, I would have reacted by stopping dead in the middle of the bridge and throwing my heavy water bottle at their windshield. Don't do this!

Don't dwell on it too much.

James

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2014, 06:08:59 PM »
With the honking, knowing me, I would have reacted by stopping dead in the middle of the bridge and throwing my heavy water bottle at their windshield. Don't do this!

Don't dwell on it too much.

I agree lol, my advice is to not do what I would have done... :D  But then I enjoy pissing off assholes and causing them pain and am willing to take the risks involved.

I certainly don't mind riding a sidewalk for a ways if it is empty, but if that's not an option I agree with "taking the lane" if necessary to be safe. Once I am in that lane, I certainly am not going to give into some assholes honking at me, but if I felt I was holding up traffic for a while then I wouldn't mind pulling over (once the car behind me had slowed down to my speed) and waving them past. The key is to wait until traffic has slowed down behind you, to make sure they don't blow by you at high speed. Then, after the car is past, start again in the lane. But if the traffic is constant, then I would just hold the lane until I got past the narrow point.

Regarding what I would recommend in that particular circumstance of someone honking at me, I would recommend pulling over and stepping onto the sidewalk to let them pass. I would be careful to avoid staying in the lane at all, or they might clip me if they try and accelerate quickly and "blow by me". But if I couldn't clear the lane completely and let them pass, then I would simply keep going and ignore them, certainly don't wave or give them any sign that you even realize they exist. Let them believe you are deaf, but don't give them any satisfaction in seeing you notice them, or that will encourage more response by them.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2014, 07:23:07 AM »
I would have done the exact same thing you did.  On a bridge with no shoulder I will always take the full lane.  Basically, when in doubt, keep control of the lane. 

You were right not to pull over when the guy was acting like a total idiot behind you.  It's hard to keep course when you're intimidated, but you don't want him to learn that cyclists will move out of his way when he acts like that, plus your number one priority is keeping you safe.  Who the f cares if you slow this ahole down for a minute.  I would sprint as best I could but you don't owe them that.  The fact that your husband pulled over and was yelling at you made a bad situation worse, so you kind of lost control a little bit due to him.  My only real advice is to leave him at home until he reads up on vehicular cycling :)

While situations like that are intimidating and I probably would have also gotten scared, it helps to remember that the idiot honking behind you sees you, at least!  I worry more about the drivers that don't see me at all, than the drivers that see me and hate me.

Also its totally crazy they tracked you down later to yell at you.  I've had aggressive run-ins with ahole drivers but usually afterward *I'm* the one who would like to catch up to them (it's always better that I don't, though!).  This was just bad luck, I'm sorry you had to deal with extra-crazy.

mak1277

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2014, 08:11:57 AM »
Yes, the drivers were crazy.

I do think, though, that all cyclists need to understand that the vast majority of drivers don't have a darn clue about the "rules of the road" when it comes to bikes. 

Personally, I don't think bikes belong in a full lane unless they can approximate the speed limit.  Otherwise, you've become a bottleneck and a danger to yourself and car drivers.

TreeTired

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2014, 08:20:05 AM »
I apparently disagree with almost everyone.   I keep reading the phrase,  "you did what you were supposed to do."      I ride my bike quite a bit,   and my number one rule of riding is my own personal safety. (without endangering anyone else)   What you are never ever supposed to do is piss off someone in a car.   I usually ride as far to the right as possible allowing cars room to pass.  If I sense that a line of cars is piling up behind me I will often pull over and stop and let them pass me.   Drivers of cars often get irrationally angry (ie, road rage).   It has happened to me while driving a car.  Do not impede traffic.   

Just reading the op I got the impression you are very naive and willing to follow instructions given to you without considering the implications.  I do not want my tombstone inscribed with,  "But I had the right of way"      Your own safety is paramount.  Small consolation in calling the police if you are injured.  Besides, as we have seen, sometimes the police are not sympathetic and may interpret the law differently anyway.

If the guy in an SUV behind you pointed a gun at you and told you to pull over, would you ignore him and say,  "Well, legally you can't shoot me" ?     I don't want to antagonize someone driving a car who already has shown he has a short fuse.  I just get the EFF out of the way.   Keeps everyone safe and happy.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 08:24:21 AM by NC_MJ »

greaper007

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2014, 08:34:55 AM »
You did the right thing, and after they found you at the park it probably would have been a good idea to immediately call the police.    Someone that's crazy enough to yell misogynistic obscenities at you in a public place might be capable of more.     That's what the police are there for, and they'd much rather diffuse the situation than take a statement from you in a hospital bed.

That said, I've been in similar situations and didn't think to call the police until it was too late.    I try to keep it in the back of my mind when dealing drunk or aggressive drivers while riding a bike or driving in a car.

I'm curious, what part of the country do you live in?    I'm in Denver and I find that motorists are very familiar with how to drive around bikers around here.    When I lived in Cleveland it was the opposite and I used to piss people off by riding in the street as a teen.

Scandium

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2014, 08:45:16 AM »
My solution; always ride on the sidewalk. I don't care if it's illegal. I'd rather be in jail than dead.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2014, 08:53:23 AM »
First of all, I am very sorry you had this experience. I think the people behind you were flipping nuts.

I will echo what a lot of people have been saying: it's not worth putting your life in danger just to make a point. Also, your husband leaving you out there alone didn't help anything. The benefits of riding with a group is that there is power in numbers. I am a smallish female and when I find myself riding alone I take extra precautions. There is a bridge near my house I often have to cross. If I am alone, I do not ride in the road. There is absolutely no shoulder, no way a car can move around me if I am anywhere in the lane. So I will take the raised sidewalk every time. Part of being a cyclist is thinking ahead and trying to minimize the dangers of riding with vehicles that can kill or hurt you, or send you over the bridge.

I am really sorry. I have been the victim of road rage and it really sucks. But that dude was a jerk.

okashira

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2014, 09:31:17 AM »
Call the police; actually, head over to the station and report the incident. You were threatened, then harassed again.

nawhite

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2014, 09:43:48 AM »
My solution; always ride on the sidewalk. I don't care if it's illegal. I'd rather be in jail than dead.

This works until you get hit by a car turning right at the same time you are trying to ride in the cross walk. Because you move faster than pedestrians who are supposed to be in the sidewalk, most drivers turning right do not look back far enough to see you and may make a right turn into you. If you ride on the sidewalk for safety's sake, you should be walking your bike at all cross walks too.

Dollarbill49

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2014, 09:52:04 AM »
Just confirms my opinion as what happens to people who buy Land Rovers.  They become rude, spoiled, entitled idiots.

Glad you're OK and happy travels on your bike in the future.

electriceagle

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2014, 09:57:02 AM »
I apparently disagree with almost everyone.   I keep reading the phrase,  "you did what you were supposed to do."      I ride my bike quite a bit,   and my number one rule of riding is my own personal safety. (without endangering anyone else)   What you are never ever supposed to do is piss off someone in a car. 

Nuh-uh.

What you're not supposed to do is get hit by someone in a car. Intentional rear-endings are incredibly rare while sideswipes are quite common. By taking the lane, you eliminate the risk of the high-frequency accident.

Not taking control because of fear of social friction (driver will get mad) is part of why the rate of bike accidents is higher for women than for men.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8296971.stm

okashira

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2014, 09:57:18 AM »
Just confirms my opinion as what happens to people who buy Land Rovers.  They become rude, spoiled, entitled idiots.

Glad you're OK and happy travels on your bike in the future.

I assure you, they were that way before they bought the vehicle.

Scandium

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2014, 09:59:29 AM »
My solution; always ride on the sidewalk. I don't care if it's illegal. I'd rather be in jail than dead.

This works until you get hit by a car turning right at the same time you are trying to ride in the cross walk. Because you move faster than pedestrians who are supposed to be in the sidewalk, most drivers turning right do not look back far enough to see you and may make a right turn into you. If you ride on the sidewalk for safety's sake, you should be walking your bike at all cross walks too.
Yes I am aware of this, and always check for cars. And never assume that they'll stop (which most of the time they won't, even when I'm walking). I biked more in college, but always ride on the sidewalk if I can for this reason. Being careful about cars turning into me I can control, some one snapping my back with their mirror I can't..

In general I find that assuming that all people are idiots who pay no attention to their surroundings is a good strategy, and keeps me safe. I'd rather be surprised when someone actually isn't an idiot, than the other way around
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 10:01:28 AM by Scandium »

skunkfunk

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2014, 10:06:50 AM »
Around here, nobody knows how to deal with cyclists so they are either ultra-conservative or road-raging fools. Unfortunately, due to the common problem of aggressive drivers honking, yelling, and passing me within inches whilst having their foot on the floor, the good drivers must put up with my lane-hogging antics as well as the bad ones, since I do not know which is which until someone is past me.

I won't take the sidewalk because you never know what's going to happen there. The sidewalk ends and  you are forced into a busy street,  someone is backing across it, someone walking, or there are tree branches too low for a cyclist. I've squeezed between pillars and signs and all sorts of crap on the sidewalks and been hit in the head by tree branches enough that I rarely use them anymore.


TrMama

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2014, 10:33:33 AM »
Ugh, I'm so sorry this happened to you so early in your biking "career". What a shitty introduction to an activity that's normally very relaxing.

What that driver did to you was assault. Coming back to find you, getting out of the car and then yelling at you is absolutely assault and should be reported to the police. I have reported people for much less and the issue was taken very seriously. Were you able to get the license plate# of the car?

As long as you signaled before taking the lane and were making a decent effort to cross the bridge quickly, you were absolutely right to take the lane. I live in a very cycling friendly town and still get honked at a couple times/year. Even though taking the lane is the safest method to navigate narrow areas, it can still get drivers riled up.

As a woman cyclist who often rides alone I've taken a few safety measures. I have this alarm on the strap of my messenger bag, http://www.thegrommet.com/ila-security-dusk-personal-alarms. Any time someone threatens me, I can just pull the chain and it emits an ear piercing shriek. I can't imagine anyone would hang around to listen to it. I also have this pump, http://www.leftlanesports.com/product.aspx?p=BLK01231&a=GoogleBase&gclid=COjLmpm36L8CFQuCaQodqq0AMQ. It's a very crappy pump, but it makes a great weapon and I can reach even while I'm riding. I also plan to take some self defense/MMA training.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2014, 11:56:30 AM »
I apparently disagree with almost everyone.   I keep reading the phrase,  "you did what you were supposed to do."      I ride my bike quite a bit,   and my number one rule of riding is my own personal safety. (without endangering anyone else)   What you are never ever supposed to do is piss off someone in a car. 

Nuh-uh.

What you're not supposed to do is get hit by someone in a car. Intentional rear-endings are incredibly rare while sideswipes are quite common. By taking the lane, you eliminate the risk of the high-frequency accident.


+1

OP, seriously ignore people on here who are saying it is safer to ride on the side of the road.  It isn't.  I've ridden both ways and after a short time it is glaringly obvious which is safer. 

The problem with letting yourself ride so far to the right that cars can pass you without leaving the lane is that in a line of cars, the first car will give you OK room, maybe the second car as well, but by the third you are getting buzzed and the fourth might not even see you.  That's the car that hits you.

When you take the full lane, you are visible and in control of the situation and can help cars pass you safely.  It's very rare to be hit from behind.  Only 30% of accidents to begin with are due to collision with a car (http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm), 40% of FATAL accidents were hit-from-behinds (http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/EBC_report_final.pdf), but this represents a very small portion of ALL collisions - only 4% based on this very old data: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/Library/TaleOfThree.htm

Typically I will ride to the first third of the lane, as others have mentioned, but if I am approaching a bridge or stop sign or blind curve and I have a safety-related reason for not wanting a car to pass, I won't hesitate to take the full lane. 

Personally, I don't think bikes belong in a full lane unless they can approximate the speed limit.  Otherwise, you've become a bottleneck and a danger to yourself and car drivers.

Bikes are legally considered vehicles and are allowed on all roadways unless specifically banned (at least in my state). 

DoubleDown

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2014, 12:21:21 PM »
Those guys are bullies, and unfortunately they're going to remain that way until/unless someone finally puts them in they're place or they somehow, suddenly become enlightened.

It's stories like this that make me wish for feel-good outcomes that only happen in the movies -- like the victim biker is actually an off-duty police-woman with a gun and badge not immediately visible, but then becomes apparent once they're threatening her. Or that she pulled into her picnic spot, which was their chosen location for their annual Hell's Angels meetup. The a-holes start yelling at her, then all her companions come from behind the tree or building. Or they're screaming at her when her husband, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, pops out of the port-a-potty, smiling.

Hang in there OP, try not to dwell on it too much even though it's understandably upsetting. I hope the local police can locate and have a good talk with your assaulters.

resy

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2014, 12:27:42 PM »
Should have taken olates and called he cops. Thats assault as far as im concerned!

DoubleDown

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2014, 12:33:51 PM »

My DH used to live in an Oklahoma military town and would run long distances in shorts with no shirt. He was frequently yelled at, berated for being gay (?!), and even had soda cans and a brick thrown at him. He understands that those reactions had nothing to do with him. I have to laugh about the 'gay' bit. What must these macho men have been so afraid of when they saw my sweaty, muscular, fit, shirtless husband? ;)


Seriously, wtf. I run also, and I run shirtless on hot/humid days in the summer. Didn't realize I was putting out the false impression I'm gay (not that there's anything wrong with that lol)! Funny though, when I run I carry a Spyderco knife in case I encounter a vicious dog on the loose, a rabid animal, or some bad person. It's a folding knife with a vicious, serrated blade that is completely hidden within my hand. I was speaking of poetic justice above -- I can just imagine some person threatening me like the OP's story and the look on their faces as the knife flicks open.

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2014, 12:40:21 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

Bicyclists don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

As regards the OP's experience:  The drivers were jerks.  Their initial anger with OP is understandable, but they stepped way over the line when they went back and yelled at her.

AlanStache

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2014, 12:52:01 PM »
Agree with most all that has been said above, however there are 30mph roads locally I will not ride on at any time.  It is just experience in learning where and when you can be on a given road (if at all) and how much lane to take.  Yes it is often safer to take the full lane.

People behind the wheel are not people they are motorists, they feel 100% protected from the world and have the feeling they can do what ever they want and that it is your job to get out of there way.  They do after all have a book of stamps to go buy.

Sidewalks: No you should not normally ride on them but there are times when you should for a block or three while being extra vigilant.  I would suggest practicing the skills of getting up and down a curb so you feel you have that option while out riding.

Years ago I was riding through a construction zone, all the cars were doing 15mph so I took the lane 20' behind a car, 100% keeping up with traffic, guy behind me started honking trying to get me out of his way.  No clue what was going on in his head.  Drivers are dumb.

Month ago I did buy and have been riding with since a helmet camera; have heard to many stories of the rider not getting the plate or the details being in question.  But I do see that maybe it would have escalated the situation in this case, or lead to the arrest of the guy that punched you in a park.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2014, 01:43:46 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

Bicyclists don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

Agree to the traffic laws, although the Idaho stop sign law should be adopted in more places - its often just safer for cyclists to roll through a stop sign, and holds cars up less, than if we come to a complete stop.  I really don't understand where this anger comes from though.  Most cyclists do follow the laws, and plenty of drivers don't, and drivers are more likely to kill someone.  Seems like you'd focus more on those rule breakers. 

Tolls, no, that's stupid.  Cycling should be encouraged by municipalities.  Driving should be discouraged at all times, because oil is a finite resource, because parking spots are limited, because because because.  Cycling is just about always better for cities, which is why they put in bike lanes, which is why its stupid to demand cyclists pay the same road taxes as drivers.  Anyway we don't benefit from gas subsidies when we are on our bikes!


okashira

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #37 on: July 28, 2014, 01:53:15 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

Bicyclists don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

As regards the OP's experience:  The drivers were jerks.  Their initial anger with OP is understandable, but they stepped way over the line when they went back and yelled at her.
Now I see where the rage comes from. Crab mentality.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2014, 02:18:28 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

wait, what? I didn't read anyone in this thread saying that cyclists shouldn't have to stop at stop signs/lights. I always do. and every toll road around here is a limited-access highway with a minimum speed limit that bikes aren't allowed on anyway.

really sorry about your experience, OP. that would have freaked me the hell out. I think there is a lot of good advice here!

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #39 on: July 28, 2014, 03:06:16 PM »
My solution; always ride on the sidewalk. I don't care if it's illegal. I'd rather be in jail than dead.

This works until you get hit by a car turning right at the same time you are trying to ride in the cross walk. Because you move faster than pedestrians who are supposed to be in the sidewalk, most drivers turning right do not look back far enough to see you and may make a right turn into you. If you ride on the sidewalk for safety's sake, you should be walking your bike at all cross walks too.

I echo nawhite, I've been hit twice - both times while riding on the sidewalk - and had many close calls in crosswalks. Never been hit while riding in the street.

James

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #40 on: July 28, 2014, 03:09:17 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

Bicyclists don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

As regards the OP's experience:  The drivers were jerks.  Their initial anger with OP is understandable, but they stepped way over the line when they went back and yelled at her.


First, it's not "If", bicycles are entitled to take a lane unless prohibited. We don't need to speculate on that.


Second, of course they are required to obey traffic laws. Even if they don't "take a lane".


I sometimes roll through stop signs on my bike. I also sometimes drive 6-8 mph over the speed limit in my car. Same dif, it's against the law, and I'm ok with that. If a police officer ticketed me I would accept it, but I don't believe I am endangering any lives.


Finally, the initial anger with OP is understandable? They didn't step over the line until they went back and yelled at her? Please read her story again and specify exactly how what the driver did while behind the biker was "understandable". You don't honk and yell obscenities at someone because they are slowing you down to keep safe, that is not understandable, even if you don't know the rational.

unpolloloco

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #41 on: July 28, 2014, 03:36:34 PM »
Taking lane is legally correct here (although it may have been safer to just pull over *IF* there was space).

However, taking the lane without signalling could have been an issue.  I've been cut off by a bike rider who did this (in an area where the bike rider was in a right turn lane and cut into the travel lane less than a car length in front of me with no warning!!!).  You better believe I honked at him (while backing off and giving him space).

wizlem

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #42 on: July 28, 2014, 03:40:23 PM »
If bicycles are vehicles and entitled to take the center of a lane at ~10mph and block up traffic...

... then they by golly are required to obey ALL traffic laws.  That includes:  stop-signs and stop-lights (which according to this thread, most bicyclists don't think SHOULD apply to them).  And they should be ticketed just like motor vehicles for violations. And if they are fool enough to ride their bikes on toll-roads, they should have to pay tolls.  Just like motor vehicles.

Bicyclists don't get to have their cake and eat it too.

As regards the OP's experience:  The drivers were jerks.  Their initial anger with OP is understandable, but they stepped way over the line when they went back and yelled at her.

Acting like cars follow all the rules and bikes are the law breakers is the most absurd thing i've ever heard. Why don't you go watch a 4 way stop intersection sometime and find how often a car driver does a full stop when there are no other cars currently at the intersection. My own personal observation is it's almost never.

There sure is a lot of anti-bike sentiment in this thread. That seems pretty ridiculous considering biking is about the number one requirement for being mustachian. I would ignore any of the comments of doing anything differently while riding your bike. It may feel less safe at the time but allowing cars to feel they own the road just makes us all less safe.

My theory is most car drivers think it's illegal to ride your bike in the road. I had a similar incident just a few days ago where a driver began honking at me from a block away. There wasn't even any oncoming traffic to prevent him from passing. Some people are just idiots.

shotgunwilly

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #43 on: July 28, 2014, 03:44:55 PM »
That is incredible.  Your husband has more restraint than me, because I would have taken a big limb to the hood of their land rover and then proceeded to fight the two dicks as they got out.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2014, 05:25:42 PM »
Hi SoCalLady,

Sorry about the horrible experience. From your description, it sounds like you approached the bridge crossing correctly. You just had the misfortune of having some angry, impatient, ill-mannered people behind you who for whatever reason are allowed to operate dangerous vehicles in a public place. Road-rage unfortunately happens, and the victims aren't limited to cyclists (I've seen someone get out of their car and punch another car; I assume the metal door fared better than the fist).
Apparently "Psychologists have a pretty good idea about what causes road rage and lesser frustrations", a pretty good overview:
Quote
The car is not only an object of convenience, beauty, and status. It is also a cultural and psychological object, associated with the driver's internal mental and emotional dynamics, our ego. Cars are an extension of the self, they are ego-laden objects that can be used both positively and negatively to get our own way on the road. The automobile offers us a means to exercise direct control over our environment. When we enter the car we use it as an outlet for regaining a sense of control. Automobiles are powerful, and obedient. They respond instantly and gratifyingly to our command, giving us a sense of well being that comes with achieving control over one's environment. [...] What happens when someone thwarts our sense of freedom? For example, while driving along in a pack of vehicles, a car in the left lane suddenly darts into your lane just ahead of you. Your foot automatically lifts from the gas pedal and taps the brakes, just enough to maintain distance. At this point, aggressive drivers feel thwarted because they were forced to alter what they were doing. That driver forced you to lift your foot two inches. "What a moron. What an idiot." You feel an explosion of fury inside. It gets very hot. You might even begin to perspire. You grip the wheel harder. Now you've arrived at the decisive moment: you can let the emotion die out, or you can fan the flames with thoughts of indignation and retaliation. Aggressive drivers do not let the momentary emotional flare die down."

If it helps to deal with them, here is a bit of stoicism to remind yourself:
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Consider insults to be like a dog barking at you. When the dog barks, you make a note that it might not like you, but you certainly don't argue with the dog or get upset by it."

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"Insulters are often overgrown children worthy of our pity, not our anger...What makes us upset is not the thing itself but our reaction to it. A good response to an insult is humorous, or no response at all."

Heather in Ottawa

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #45 on: July 28, 2014, 07:14:02 PM »
Wow, trial by fire. That was absolutely assault.

If it helps you to develop a thicker skin, think of the horn as the "idiot button". The idiot is just letting you know he sees you.

Cyrano

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #46 on: July 28, 2014, 07:28:43 PM »
In most US jurisdictions, the rule is ride to the right, unless there is insufficient room to pass safely in which case taking the lane is appropriate. Whether there is room to pass safely is a judgment call of course, but it's usually YOUR judgment call, so you did right.

That said, I frustrate drivers less when riding in the right-hand tire track (about 1/3 over) than when riding in the middle. Even when due to oncoming traffic, they can't pass anyway.

You have the right to use the road. But there are roads that due to a combination of nonexistent shoulders and high traffic, can't be shared among vehicles of widely different speeds while leaving a good experience for all. After experiences like this one, I take a moment to research alternate routes. I have the right to any road, but some roads are more prudent than others. If there are no alternate routes, use what you have.

If someone stops to physically threaten you, have the cops on speed dial. It tends to cool the jets of someone who knows they're out of line but is acting that way because they can. And it creates a paper trail such that if they ever do hurt a cyclist with their car, will make it harder for them to claim it was an accident afterwards.

Goldielocks

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #47 on: July 29, 2014, 02:48:47 AM »
Wow, you did it right.  I have learned to take the center lane or walk my bike on the sidewalk ( usually the railing is low or there are pedestrian s.). I have been nudged while riding with my 10 yr old son on a signed and designated share the road route.  Now I did not ride the shoulder if it is tight.

As another mentioned, it is that third car who tries to pass and misjudges the date stance/ ignores you.

As a driver, i am prone to road 'emotion'.. (And let it pass...). But the main thing that gets me is a cyclist who does not keep up close to traffic speeds and ALSO refuses to use a designated, sparated bike path for that route,  because it would require a 1 minute detour.

Otherwise, carry on.   Coming after you was beyond the norm and not acceptable.

For those here who ride the sidewalk.. Are you saying that in a 15 minute ride you never see pedestrians?  Sidewalks here are for walking, and pedestrians, some with canes and some with small children, and are present every other block a least.  When I started, I foolishly chose the sidewalk over traffic too, until I got a bit faster and I was tired of getting off my bike all the time to let pedestrians pass safely while i wadstopped and standing at one side...don't get me started on the dog walkers ...  I also looked for better bike routes even if slightly longer, to avoid the worst spots of traffic..

Maybe you could try that instead of idiot riding on the sidewalk when people are present.  Or walk you bike a few blocks around traffic?

We need to let pedestrians have the sidewalks, please!



NinetyFour

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #48 on: July 29, 2014, 08:08:20 AM »
I fully support the OP.  I have very little empathy with the polluters--especially those who seem to be on such short fuses.

How do the actions of the Land Rover even make sense?  Presumably, the driver was pissed because he was forced to slow down for a bit and lost a precious few seconds.  But then he stops and gets out of his car to scream more obscenities?  Seems like he would have been in a rush to speed off and make up for lost time!  Absolute jerk.

hybrid

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Re: Please help me understand this cycling/road rage incident
« Reply #49 on: July 29, 2014, 08:30:07 AM »
To the OP, sorry this happened. Having said that, I follow the rules of the road the vast majority of the time but if I am aware I am going to be an 8 MPH bottleneck for a period of time then I am going to opt for the sidewalk instead.

This is the 14th St bridge in downtown Richmond. I claim the center of the right lane riding home (red line). Because there is another lane available (blue lines), I have zero issues riding this half mile long bridge at 15 MPH while traffic zips by me at 35 MPH and cars have never given me hassle here, even during rush hour. There is an easy way around me. There is a sidewalk (black squiggly line) that I could take, but don't.

In your case, with no shoulder, an obvious bottleneck of indeterminate length, and a relatively safe alternative available (the sidewalk), I would have personally opted for the sidewalk. If the 14th street bridge were just two lanes, then yeah I'd opt for the sidewalk until I got to the other side.

« Last Edit: July 29, 2014, 08:31:58 AM by hybrid »