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  1. #1
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    How do you "let it go" when something happens?

    This is partially a vent/rant, so bear with me.

    I envy people who can drive along in traffic, and if someone cuts them off, drives annoyingly slow, etc, can just shrug it off and not give it a second thought.

    Maybe it's the 7.5 years of living in a major city, maybe I'm surrounded by idiots, maybe I have a screw loose, who knows, but I'm unfortunately not the type who can be cut off while driving, or be buzzed by a car while cycling, and just sigh and forget it. I usually throw a finger in the air, swear enough to make a sailor turn red, and later wish I had not gotten all bent out of shape because it gets me nowhere.

    This morning I had someone buzz me very, very close. Two lanes in each direction, downtown, 35mph zone. I was in the right lane doing about 20mph, a short line of moving cars in the left lane passing me, nothing out of the ordinary. Most people move into the left lane to pass me, or at least give me plenty of space, but every so often... today a woman decided she was in a hurry and moved from the left lane into the right behind me, I could hear her engine as she accelerated, and buzzed me, leaving me a few inches (close enough that I felt the draft from the car pull me towards the car). I used my airzound horn and gave her the bird, she got on her horn in response.

    As luck would have it, there was a semi-truck backing into a parking lot about a mile later, blocking the road, so there was a line of traffic. I saw the car that buzzed me, rode up to it, started yelling at the woman about law being three feet, along with a string of profanity and slapping her passenger mirror to fold it against the car (didn't want to break it, just fold it in). She starts yelling about how there's no bike lane, that I'm an $#@$@!! for riding my bike on the road, etc, so there was more profanity from my part. I chose a slightly different route for the rest of the way to work because I didn't want her passing me later, and now have to wonder whether it's someone who drives past me regularly on my commute (feel like I'm crapping in the bed I sleep in sometimes). In the end I wish I would have been calm enough to knock on her window and be a bit more polite about it, but I was upset at the time, and it's done.

    If it was just an isolated event I wouldn't care, but I find myself getting more and more frustrated with people. Part of me says the long term solution is to move away, to a place more relaxed, but another part of me says there are idiots everywhere, and it's something I have to adjust within myself, to not let myself go bonkers and fly off the handle when something happens. So... what works for you? Count to ten? Sing a song or recite a funny poem that calms you down and makes you smile? Electroshock therapy? Carrying a big foam baseball bat on your rack?
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  2. #2
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    I try not to be a doormat, but I also try not to let my emotions take over. I have been working to replace the gestures I give. Instead of giving the bird, I try to just raise my arm in frustration. My last encounter using this method actually resulted in a respectful conversation with the driver. I feel like I was actually able to educate him a little on driving around cyclists.

    It's hard when you're in fight-or-flight life preservation mode, to dial back on the anger when someone nearly kills you. Maybe it would be worth riding with a video camera so you can file reports against those "pass too close" drivers and other impatient people who nearly run you over.

  3. #3
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    I understand your frustration definitely. However good it feels at the time to lose your cool on someone you just have to remember you're also leaving an impression. After that experience with you that women who was drivings grievances will probably no longer be directed at just you but all cyclists. Try directing that negative energy you have to the other end of the spectrum. Next time someone pisses you off instead of losing it angrily lose it in kindness. Approach them so kindly it would almost be creepy and make them feel uncomfortable as that might have a better lasting effect. Explain to them the actual law and remind them that their rush to wherever shouldn't disregard human life. Sorry for what happened to you.

  4. #4
    I Ride for Donuts
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    I moved to the boonies

    People still do stuff that raises my blood pressure, but I try to make my first reaction one of sympathy...must be tough to be that dumb and think you're right. Controling the initial outburst sounds like your biggest challenge... When I'm truly infuriated, I try to do the old "count to 5" thing before I say anything. They probably won't understand your yelling anyway.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I try not to be a doormat, but I also try not to let my emotions take over. I have been working to replace the gestures I give. Instead of giving the bird, I try to just raise my arm in frustration. My last encounter using this method actually resulted in a respectful conversation with the driver. I feel like I was actually able to educate him a little on driving around cyclists.

    It's hard when you're in fight-or-flight life preservation mode, to dial back on the anger when someone nearly kills you. Maybe it would be worth riding with a video camera so you can file reports against those "pass too close" drivers and other impatient people who nearly run you over.
    Maybe that's something I can do, changing my gestures. Not sure if it'll help for the times I catch up with the person, but hey, baby steps.

    I've been riding with a camera on my helmet for about three months now, so it's all recorded. It's a Contour Roam, 170* viewing angle makes the car look further away than it was in the still shot, but I also have panniers that make the bike wide. Like I said, close enough to make me feel the draft pull me in.



    Quote Originally Posted by Awshucks View Post
    I understand your frustration definitely. However good it feels at the time to lose your cool on someone you just have to remember you're also leaving an impression. After that experience with you that women who was drivings grievances will probably no longer be directed at just you but all cyclists. Try directing that negative energy you have to the other end of the spectrum. Next time someone pisses you off instead of losing it angrily lose it in kindness. Approach them so kindly it would almost be creepy and make them feel uncomfortable as that might have a better lasting effect. Explain to them the actual law and remind them that their rush to wherever shouldn't disregard human life. Sorry for what happened to you.
    That's something that's gone through my mind, too. Not only do I have to worry about seeing her again on my commute, but I didn't do what I could to improve her perception of cyclists (which is obviously very low anyways). Maybe I could pull off being creepy-kind like Dale in "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil"



    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I moved to the boonies

    People still do stuff that raises my blood pressure, but I try to make my first reaction one of sympathy...must be tough to be that dumb and think you're right. Controling the initial outburst sounds like your biggest challenge... When I'm truly infuriated, I try to do the old "count to 5" thing before I say anything. They probably won't understand your yelling anyway.
    An attitude adjustment (on my part) is what I want in the long run, so I'm also going to try to focus on my feelings during my reaction, and see if I can't steer them in a different direction like you're saying.

    Boonies... I know what that's like, moved to Atlanta from rural Pennsylvania. Looking at Colorado or Utah or something like that next, I want a better environment for my 1.5 children (wife is pregnant, figure that counts as 0.5).
    '94 RSBikes Stampede (commuter), '05 Prophet, '09 Scattante XRL Team, '10 Slice 4
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  6. #6
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    I get buzzed all the time and I definitely get PISSED when it happens. It's one of those things I'll never get used to. The way my local roads are laid out, there's absolutely no benefit to driving faster (because of stop lights, etc.). This just pisses me off even more.

    I'm at the point where I'm ready to give up bicycle commuting. I love the idea of it, but I'm increasingly convinced that I'm going to get killed so someone can get to a red light sooner. But then again my infrastructure sucks and with all the governmental bureaucracy I don't think it will improve in my lifetime.

    I wish I had something to contribute. But at least I can share your frustration.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwayne View Post
    This is partially a vent/rant, so bear with me.

    I envy people who can drive along in traffic, and if someone cuts them off, drives annoyingly slow, etc, can just shrug it off and not give it a second thought.

    Maybe it's the 7.5 years of living in a major city, maybe I'm surrounded by idiots, maybe I have a screw loose, who knows, but I'm unfortunately not the type who can be cut off while driving, or be buzzed by a car while cycling, and just sigh and forget it. I usually throw a finger in the air, swear enough to make a sailor turn red, and later wish I had not gotten all bent out of shape because it gets me nowhere.

    This morning I had someone buzz me very, very close. Two lanes in each direction, downtown, 35mph zone. I was in the right lane doing about 20mph, a short line of moving cars in the left lane passing me, nothing out of the ordinary. Most people move into the left lane to pass me, or at least give me plenty of space, but every so often... today a woman decided she was in a hurry and moved from the left lane into the right behind me, I could hear her engine as she accelerated, and buzzed me, leaving me a few inches (close enough that I felt the draft from the car pull me towards the car). I used my airzound horn and gave her the bird, she got on her horn in response.

    As luck would have it, there was a semi-truck backing into a parking lot about a mile later, blocking the road, so there was a line of traffic. I saw the car that buzzed me, rode up to it, started yelling at the woman about law being three feet, along with a string of profanity and slapping her passenger mirror to fold it against the car (didn't want to break it, just fold it in). She starts yelling about how there's no bike lane, that I'm an $#@$@!! for riding my bike on the road, etc, so there was more profanity from my part. I chose a slightly different route for the rest of the way to work because I didn't want her passing me later, and now have to wonder whether it's someone who drives past me regularly on my commute (feel like I'm crapping in the bed I sleep in sometimes). In the end I wish I would have been calm enough to knock on her window and be a bit more polite about it, but I was upset at the time, and it's done.

    If it was just an isolated event I wouldn't care, but I find myself getting more and more frustrated with people. Part of me says the long term solution is to move away, to a place more relaxed, but another part of me says there are idiots everywhere, and it's something I have to adjust within myself, to not let myself go bonkers and fly off the handle when something happens. So... what works for you? Count to ten? Sing a song or recite a funny poem that calms you down and makes you smile? Electroshock therapy? Carrying a big foam baseball bat on your rack?
    Basically I am somewhat like you....if someone is endangering me or others...I will take it to them.

    Chase them down each block at rush hour.

    You gotta think of this as educating the public.

    I have been at this for 8 years on the same road, and it is actually working to some small degree, every now and then some newbie driver might try something but they generally get straighten out pretty quick.

    Of course you could just take a valium.

  8. #8
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    Definitely feel your pain here, so to speak. I think its something a lot of us go through. Any single incident, we could let slide, but after a while, we get tired of being on the bottom of everyone's priority list for safety and courtesy.

    I've definitely struggled with how to respond after a dangerous, threatening or irritating incident.

    Yelling may seem satisfying at the time, but probably won't change the behavior of a driver in the long run. They'll just label you as a nut with an anger control problem.

    For me, trying to be "the better man", and letting it all slide just results in me getting more and more frustrated until I feel like I'm ready to start carrying a paintball gun to let cars know when they've F'd up. Then we're back at the angry nutjob place.

    So, I've been working on how to alert drivers (and other bikers) to the fact that they've endangered someone - without getting their dander up so they might reflect on what they did and not be defensive immediately. I've had limited success. In fact, yesterday, a casual disapproving head shake led to a man with a (currently running) weed eater charging me and asking what my problem was. I doubt there was any way that situation could have been handled without an altercation staring.

    My wife and I talk about this all the time, and I don't think there is an answer. You gotta do what keeps your stress level down. Sure, we'd all like to be angelic ambassadors for the biking commuting community, but even angels get pissed when they get dumped on too often.

  9. #9
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    I fight with this every day I ride. Every time a car buzzes me, it doesn't feel like a negligent driver. It feels like a deliberate attempt on my life. The PTSD doesn't help much, either. (But the cycling helps the PTSD, so whatcha gonna do?)
    Every time it's a fight. Part of me wants to smile and wave and just let it go. My brain tells me this is the correct course of action, as does my conscience. Angering a motorist that already doesn't care about cyclists will only make him hate us, and angering a motorist that already hates us will only make him hate us more. And the next cyclist he takes his ignorance out on may well not be me.
    But part of me wants to chase that ^&#$* down, drag him out of his car, and beat him down in the middle of the street for everyone to see. (for the record, i have never actually done this)
    I never really win this fight, somedays I just handle it better than others. I actually HAVE chased cars down before just to make sure the driver saw me. One time I actually pulled up next to a guy, knocked on his driver-side window, and THEN flipped him off.

    I will say this though...the look on their faces in the mirror when they check behind them and see my crazy ass GAINING on them is absolutely priceless.

    Moving to a bike-friendly area does make an incredible difference. I moved out to Park City, UT this summer and it was INCREDIBLE. Aside from the area itself, just the commuting was night and day. Bike lanes everywhere, and even on the rare occasions when I did have to venture into the street, cars went out of their way to accomodate me, so much so that I sometimes felt embarassed and would pull over or wave cars around me so as not to hold up traffic. I'm not asking for special treatment, after all, just stop trying to kill me. A lot of that is because most of the people there also ride, or at least hike, ski, run, etc. It's a very active and outdoorsy community.
    Most of Wisconsin (where I live now) is very bike-friendly as well, Madison especially. There's just something about this town that's just...rotten.
    Don't buy all the lies that they feed ya.

  10. #10
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    I fling poo at them...




    I've found that the more I ride as a commuter the less bothered by it I get because for every bonehead move I see drivers making, I can count a bonehead move I've made as a cyclist. 99.99% of the time, the driver isn't doing to intentionally be an arse - they are just like everyone else - got lots of things going through their minds as they make their way to work or home again. It's impossible to have 100% focus 100% of the time.

    If I feel that they've intentionally tried to scare me, I might give a "F*ckin' arsehole" under my breath, but that's about it.

  11. #11
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    I remind myself I can do far more effective things when I'm calm than when I'm pissed. By that time they are long gone, I vent in my own head, then eventually get it out of my system. If I actually catch up with them, I get their license plate number then report them to the police. Nothing comes of it except there's a note somewhere that they're an erratic driver. Might be the little thing needed if they get pulled over later. On the off chance that someday it might become an actual criminal case, I'd press the charges at first if only to drive the point home to the driver, then let it drop if prosecutors really didn't want to deal with it.
    The ridiculousness of cycling clothes increase exponentially in relation to the distance from your bicycle.

  12. #12
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    At worst I'll wave my arm and give a wordless yell. On my route nobody's going to be able to hear me unless I happen to roll up next to them at one of the 2 lights or 1 stop sign, which isn't likely.

    Keep in mind there's a valid middle ground between saying nothing and flying up screaming curses, and many peoples' response to anger and cursing is to return the same. Be firm, but make it your goal to politely educate the driver that what they did could have killed you just to shave a few seconds off of the trip.

  13. #13
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    "banging on hoods and kicking in fenders"..... funny stuff but in the real world it just pisses drivers off even more than they already are, and they have 4,000 lb. weapons vs. my 175 lb. body. They already think all cyclists are idiots and your not going to change their minds. I don't commute in the city anymore but when I did I expected the worst from every car and treated it like a game, trying to educate every driver is similar to banging your head on a wall.

  14. #14
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    I am a big fan of the camera mindset. I've found it reduced my stress level because I tend to try to remember details. When it works, less to remember. It was also theraputic to do a "log" of such drivers. Maybe a morbid curiousity of studying statistics or the couple strikes and your out mentality. If you do the same route on a day in day out basis the same people will fall into patterns. When they do it will show up on the stats and that is what my local enforcers like to see. When I present them with a list of half a dozen drivers who over the course of a month have proven a history of dangerous driving, they act on it. Perhaps not majorly but enough that those individuals do not reappear on the lists.

    As tempting as a face-to-face is, calling on higher backing has proven far more effective in my experience.
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  15. #15
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    I'm with you on really wanting revenge but knowing it's a bad idea. I'd love to actually have the opportunity to fold someone's mirror on them - that's awesome.

    Generally though, I've just decided that if I'm going to yell then I'm going to make it count.

    "Pay attention!" or "Wake Up!" (ie. I know what I'm doing and you don't)
    "Crosswalk!" "Stopsign!" "Bikelane!" or whatever law the morons have ignored.
    And when I'm insulting someone I call them fatass. It doesn't even have to be true, but nobody cares if you call them an *******. If you call them fat they'll feel shitty about it for hours, or Gay is another good option for they morons in giant trucks. It's certainly not classy, but it's the best I've got.

  16. #16
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Sometimes to relieve stress I come on MTBR and pick fights in the All Mountain forum.

  17. #17
    Rogue Exterminator
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    LOL, this reminds of stuff I used to on a motorcycle.
    I would ride beside cars and knock there mirror back (not off).
    I did have a friend though that would knock them completely off and say "they didn't use them anyways". lol

    I don't ride road much but get pissed when people pas like that and act out.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  18. #18
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    ^^ One idiot that almost got me already had both mirrors gone. That might relate to her sense of proper distance. Her passenger said she did not know I was there though she overtook me! Complete moron. She parked 100 feet further on!. We had a polite discussion as I debated calling the police.

  19. #19
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    I try real hard to not let another cager ruin my mood and it takes real effort (and plenty of cursing under my bresth) to do so. To me it's just not worth the overt confrontation, especially in an area where open (and concealed) carry weapons abound. But, a wordless yell with upraised arm tends to do something, although my favorite is giving a peace sign or a thumbs up letting them know that I'm not bothered and they're the idiot. I have called/emailed complaints to commercial entities that have acted dangerously. Had a school bus buzz me months ago so I contacted the company and politely quoted Arizona law about adequate passing space. While I got a boilerplate email in reply, the busses have given me more clearance ever since.

    Mostly though, unless it is prodigiously dangerous, I let it slide. I've given up the idea of bashing mirrors/windows with a u-lock in revenge or outright physical confrontation as to me, it's just not worth it

  20. #20
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    Personally, if they didn't touch me, there's no foul. I can't morally claim the "three feet away" rule when I find myself eventually filtering my way ahead of slow traffic inches away from their sidemirrors. I've even got over over-reacting to the occasional honk from cars coming from behind. I'd like to think those honks are the car driver's version of "on your left!" and appreciate it.

  21. #21
    jrm
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    I just remind myself that i dont know what that person behind the wheel of a 4k car may be capable of. They may, in a fit of anger, purposely run me over/hit me....and take off or pull a gun and shoot me. I dont know and dont want to find out.
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  22. #22
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    Let it go? Why let it go? In my view you did all cyclists a favor.

    Look, if you just "let it go" the driver has no idea what kind of danger she put you in, and she will do it again because there were no consequences.

    Believe me, she will remember that encounter the next time she sees a cyclist and she will give him more room, that's human nature. Only the rare sociopath will take "revenge" on a cyclist, and there's nothing you can do about those.

    Drivers for the most part are very mousey and embarrassed if you confront them at the next stop (most won't even look at you - notice that?). It's a great lesson for them, and it will stick with them for a very long time.

    One caution however - watch the situation. I had a guy buzz me with a backwards cap driving an old 80's trans-am. He looked like trouble, so I didn't bother with him. But the guy/gal in the Corolla or minivan? Go for it. Don't damage anything, but yelling at them and asking WTF is just fine. That's my view.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrm View Post
    I just remind myself that i dont know what that person behind the wheel of a 4k car may be capable of. They may, in a fit of anger, purposely run me over/hit me....and take off or pull a gun and shoot me. I dont know and dont want to find out.
    This. I dont want someone trying to chase me down in a vehicle since there is no way I am going to come out ahead in that situation. Getting angry about the driver swearing and whatnot wont help the situation. It will actually make things worse the more you feed into it. Your heart rate is already up from exercising and that will increase your feeling of anger as well.

    I just remind myself to "never assume malice when ignorance will suffice". There are idiots everywhere. Sometimes I am on a bike when I encounter them, other times I am in a car. I am not going to let them ruin my day.

    You may benefit from working on some anger management. It may be "justified" anger but I find that is the worst kind because, for me at least, it is harder to let it go. I always ask myself what am I trying to accomplish? Does the action that I am going to do further that goal? I find if I think it through swearing at the drivers and smacking mirrors etc doesnt really educate the driver, it escalates the situation and makes me look like I am a bit nuts.

    I also go with the idea that once I touch the car the law is no longer on my side since I am now potentially damaging property (what if the mirror is already broken and you knock it off?), whereas earlier the driver was the only one violating a law (3ft rule).

  24. #24
    Interplanetary Poultry
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    "banging on hoods and kicking in fenders"..... funny stuff but in the real world it just pisses drivers off even more than they already are, and they have 4,000 lb. weapons vs. my 175 lb. body. They already think all cyclists are idiots and your not going to change their minds. I don't commute in the city anymore but when I did I expected the worst from every car and treated it like a game, trying to educate every driver is similar to banging your head on a wall.
    This. When I used to commute via bicycle I operated on the premise that I was invisible. If you know that no one can see you, you tend to ride a bit differently. I also didn't spend too much time on the road. Being on a mountain bike, I didn't see the point in taking the same route a car was limited too. I would cut across parking lots, behind shopping centers, through woods, along railroad tracks. Whatever. Granted, having grown up as a little BMX grommet I'm quite accustomed to weaving through traffic on a tiny bike that no one can see.

    If you must ride in traffic, on the side of the lane, and just want people to give you space. Wear a white shirt with dark bue shorts and strap a gun to your hip. No one will come near you, I promise.
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  25. #25
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    The only time I've seen bikes move in and around traffic extremely well was the bike couriers in Manhattan. Pretty amazing actually.

    Here in Texas...most road bikers keep to the hill country or highway access roads. Even then they still end up finding themselves in accidents with cars. Cars simply do NOT see bicycles...or motorcycles for that matter.

    It's sometimes that they simply don't feel you have the right to ride on the side of the street, and sometimes it's that they're brains literally do not process your existence because they're trained to see vehicles only. Best as everyone has said is to try and understand that people are people...flawed and entitled based on their own perspective. The only thing you can do is do you best to keep yourself out of harms way completely. If you don't have to take a busy road don't. If they do buzz you, and you have an opportunity to approach that person, I wouldn't come at them sideways. I would tell them that their actions could cost them someone's life one day--all because they were impatient. Put it in perspective.

    Anger management helps too. lol.

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