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  1. #1
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    How to handle bad drivers?

    I recently had my first close call on the way to work today. For a small section (less than 1/2 mile) of my commute, I am forced to ride on a busy 4-lane road. Typically I just get over into the turning lane (which runs parallel to the road the whole time) and ride over there. I realize this isnt the best or safest method, but this town is VERY bike unfriendly and it is about the only place I can go to keep out of the way most of the time and keep myself from getting hit from behind on the busy 4-lane.

    Yesterday as I am in the far right lane going about 20 mph, I see a young girl in a jeep cherokee fly past me on the main road, throw on her blinker and dart in front of me, nearly clipping me. She then proceeds to lock up the brakes since she was going so fast to get around me and try to pull into a parking lot. At this point I am basically eating bumper, and after some fairly aggressive braking and turning manage not to end up in her back seat. (Thank god for MTB v-brakes, I dont think my road bike would have stopped in time) I looked down and had about 3" to spare between my tire and her bumper.

    Normally I just let the close calls go... BUT I also feel that if I dont show my displeasure that the driver might not realize just how close it was. Out of rage, I waved at her and sarcastically said "Gee, thanks a bunch for the extra room! Real courteous of you!!! I appreciate that!"

    I basically had steam coming out my ears at this point and I wanted to all but break loose and really make a scene. She hears me being sarcastic, pokes her head out the window and yells "SHUT THE F($& UP!!:" as I ride away. At this point, my head gasket literally blows. Not only am I furious at how close she came to flat out smashing me, but then to turn around and belittle the situation running her mouth about it afterward and curse at me.

    I hit the brakes and pulled into the next parking lot. Out of the excitement, somehow my chain derailed which may have proven to be a godsend. As I got off to throw the chain back on track I thought about the situation and realized that me going back and really biting her head off for driving like a moron would probably do nothing productive at all. I cooled down for a minute and finished my commute instead. I know they say that right hook accidents are most common. It just blows my mind why she couldnt have been three seconds slower and got in the lane behind me instead of jeopardizing my life.

    Today I am really wondering what the best way to handle such a situation would be. I recently read something in bicycle magazine about this, but the author's situation was slightly different and he basically wasnt dealing with someone that nearly crushed him and then acted like a jerk about it. I dont want to give drivers the wrong impression about cyclists- which is why I typically keep my mouth shut and ignore poor drivers. At the same time I want a bad driver to realize that bikes are out there too and that they need to pay attention to what they are doing with two tons of metal because one mistake on their end could easily KILL me.

    Anyone else have any stories, suggestions or comments?

  2. #2
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    Usually, I rode very defensively. Cyclist has right but no point endangering yr life with a fully shield vehicles if the motorist is not going to talk right with u. If an accident happen, who is going to suffer the worst consequent??

    I have a side mirror for my commuting bic so any moron driving high speed going near pass me will be alerted by visual from side mirror and I will anticipate defensive action to protect myself. After installing my mirror, my cases of vehicle zipping near me at high speed has reduce 80%.

  3. #3
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Good work with the "brake & turn" maneuver Helmsdini, and I'm glad that you weren't injured. Her actions were reckless and her response was totally inappropriate. Drivers do sometimes make mistakes and while this is a danger to cyclists and pedestrians, they're usually not being intentionally malicious. This driver however is obviously too selfish to realize that other people exist on the same planet as her. In situations like this, I definitely advocate yelling something at the driver in the hopes of waking them up to the fact that you're there and that they almost caused grievous bodily harm, intentional or not. Alternately, you could have taken her license number down for "future reference" or even possibly snapped a camera phone pic of her plate and vehicle. A number of years ago, there were a couple of guys out here in the Bay Area who commuted every morning. They would snap camera phone pics of bad/stupid/clueless drivers and post them on their website! Not sure if it's still up or even what the address is, but if you or somebody had the time it could be a great tool for cyclists. Sort of like "Be on the look out for...."
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary the No-Trash Cougar
    Good work with the "brake & turn" maneuver Helmsdini, and I'm glad that you weren't injured. Her actions were reckless and her response was totally inappropriate. Drivers do sometimes make mistakes and while this is a danger to cyclists and pedestrians, they're usually not being intentionally malicious. This driver however is obviously too selfish to realize that other people exist on the same planet as her. In situations like this, I definitely advocate yelling something at the driver in the hopes of waking them up to the fact that you're there and that they almost caused grievous bodily harm, intentional or not. Alternately, you could have taken her license number down for "future reference" or even possibly snapped a camera phone pic of her plate and vehicle. A number of years ago, there were a couple of guys out here in the Bay Area who commuted every morning. They would snap camera phone pics of bad/stupid/clueless drivers and post them on their website! Not sure if it's still up or even what the address is, but if you or somebody had the time it could be a great tool for cyclists. Sort of like "Be on the look out for...."

    Sounds a bit dangerous. I would imagine something miraculously happened to those cars....

  5. #5
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmsdini
    ...somehow my chain derailed which may have proven to be a godsend. As I got off to throw the chain back on track I thought about the situation and realized that me going back and really biting her head off for driving like a moron would probably do nothing productive at all. I cooled down for a minute and finished my commute instead.

    Anyone else have any stories, suggestions or comments?
    I agree, throwing your chain at this moment was a Godsend. You never know who is crazy, her irrational response is proof she's not sane at that moment. At a minimum, she's got 2 tons and 250hp, you've got nothing. And you never know who has a gun. I think that must have occured to you since you finished your thought with the idea that you regained your composure.

    I bicycle commute 2-3 days per week, I get cut off almost daily. After 4 months I've gotten some Zen, I just mind my own business and look out for myself. I've modfied my route to avoid roads that have high probability of right and left hooks, it added an extra 2.5 miles to my commute (from 4 miles to 6.5 miles, perfect!). One of the quiet neighborhoods has lots of walkers and they are starting to greet me. Point I'm trying to make is I avoid cars as much as possible, when I'm around cars I assume the drivers can't see me. I also assume if they could see me, 10% of drivers would try to hit me. When some yells or cuts me off, I just keep going on my way, I assume some of them are trying to start something....

    check out this great service for mapping your ride, I found my alternative route using it:

    http://www.mapmyride.com/

  6. #6
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary the No-Trash Cougar
    ...I definitely advocate yelling something at the driver in the hopes of waking them up to the fact that you're there and that they almost caused grievous bodily harm, intentional or not.....
    this can be very dangerous, there are some very disturbed people out there. Here's a story from last summer about a rider that received a rear window necklace after he yelled at a nutjob driver (a medical doctor no less):

    from:
    http://www.knbc.com/news/17064618/detail.html


    Thompson, who runs a medical documentation company in Woodland Hills, allegedly hit the brakes of his Infiniti sedan in front of the bicyclists in the 3400 block of Mandeville Canyon Road.

    One of the bicyclists, 49-year-old Ron Peterson, crashed through the rear window of the car and suffered broken teeth, facial cuts and a severed nose that had to be reattached. The other cyclist suffered a separated shoulder.

    Police said a verbal dispute between Thompson and the bicyclists apparently preceded the crash. Peterson told KFI radio that the driver sped past them and yelled something, then pulled in front of them and slammed on his brakes.

    Peterson said he then screamed an expletive at Thompson, who he said veered in front of the riders and "slammed on his brakes as hard as he could."


    Peterson remains hospitalized and was undergoing reconstructive surgery Friday.

  7. #7
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    Carry a gun((i am joking!!!)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIFECYCLE
    Carry a gun((i am joking!!!)
    I know you're joking, however, if someone is going to accost drivers for perceived disrespect, they better bring a gun. How does that old joke's punch line go, "Fool, you brought a bike to a gun fight!"

  9. #9
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    I do have a lifetime concealed carry permit. I typically do not carry while riding though for a number of reasons, including weight, safety and the probability of the gun falling out somewhere in the open.

    My own philosophy about self-defense simply does not warrant the use of a handgun in an offensive role, and I really do not see anyone pulling a gun out on me for riding my bike as long as I dont aggressively provoke anything. The second they do, its aggravated assault with a deadly weapon which is grounds for police involvement.

    I do appreciate the thought of simply being passive about it. Probably the best way of staying safe and keeping the drama from arising in the first place. I think I will work more toward the goal of simply shrugging off stupid drivers and not letting them bug me so much. Thanks for posting the mapping service as well!

  10. #10
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmsdini
    ...I think I will work more toward the goal of simply shrugging off stupid drivers and not letting them bug me so much....
    I'm working towards it also, I'm not perfect (yet). Not always easy after a tough day at work, I am much better at this compared to 4 months ago. I did decide that if I reacted to every incident, it was only a matter of time before I ran into a dangerous nutjob. I'm doing this for my heath, getting pi$$ed off isn't heathy

  11. #11
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    Well, first of all, if you're not riding legally to begin with you have no grounds to complain about driver's behavior towards you. Ride where you're supposed to.

    When I encounter bad driving, whether it is illegal or unsafe, I try to catch up to them and calmly explain how they broke the law and what the laws are. Sometimes this involves following them to work, home, the mall, but I do what I can. I lean against their car so they can't drive off. Sometimes they get extremely pissed off. Like this guy on a motorcycle with his young son on the back, he was swearing at me after I told him he passed illegally because he did not leave three feet. When I caught back up to him down the road he had calmed down. If you get angry the outcome is not going to be what you want. Stay calm. Learn the laws to the letter. Explain them to people.

  12. #12
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    ...I try to catch up to them and calmly explain how they broke the law and what the laws are. Sometimes this involves following them to work, home, the mall, but I do what I can...Learn the laws to the letter. Explain them to people.
    Many clear thinking people will consider this to be threating. Follow a woman to her house, you might met her spouse, who's waiting for you because she called him on her cell. The local prosecuter will probably agree you're a theat, he'll think you should have called the cops. You will be beaten up or killed, it's just a matter of time.

  13. #13
    Ride Responsibly
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    [QUOTE=Schmucker]Well, first of all, if you're not riding legally to begin with you have no grounds to complain about driver's behavior towards you. Ride where you're supposed to.

    I gather from the OP's description that he was travailing in the right tun lane. Unless there is a dedicated bike lane also, which would be left of the right turn lane, he was doing nothing wrong by riding in the turn lane. The shoulder is not always "safe", and the bicycle law in Calif. is if you are moving slower than traffic, you should ride as far to the right "as is SAFE".
    The DMV handbook tells drivers needing to turn right to check for bicycles and yield to those present, then to pull into the right lane so as to keep bicycles from passing you on the right as you prepare for your right hand turn.
    What the OP described is reckless driving, and failure to yield by the driver. Informing the driver calmly that they almost killed you by their actions is the right thing to do, can earn us some respect that is obviously lacking in that particular driver, if they continue to be belligerent, taking down the license number and reporting the incident to the police is a good idea. If they end up killing someone, the report may be the key that locks them up rather than them getting off by saying it must have been the cyclist fault.

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=LWright]
    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    Well, first of all, if you're not riding legally to begin with you have no grounds to complain about driver's behavior towards you. Ride where you're supposed to.

    I gather from the OP's description that he was travailing in the right tun lane. Unless there is a dedicated bike lane also, which would be left of the right turn lane, he was doing nothing wrong by riding in the turn lane. The shoulder is not always "safe", and the bicycle law in Calif. is if you are moving slower than traffic, you should ride as far to the right "as is SAFE".
    The DMV handbook tells drivers needing to turn right to check for bicycles and yield to those present, then to pull into the right lane so as to keep bicycles from passing you on the right as you prepare for your right hand turn.
    What the OP described is reckless driving, and failure to yield by the driver. Informing the driver calmly that they almost killed you by their actions is the right thing to do, can earn us some respect that is obviously lacking in that particular driver, if they continue to be belligerent, taking down the license number and reporting the incident to the police is a good idea. If they end up killing someone, the report may be the key that locks them up rather than them getting off by saying it must have been the cyclist fault.

    Correct, I was in the right turn lane which runs along the length of the 4-lane highway. There is no shoulder as the turn lane butts right up to the curbing. I was also in the far right of the right turn lane. Indiana laws are similar in that bicycles must be to the extreme right of the road (not permitted on sidewalk) in any situation if they are going slower than traffic. I am about 10-15mph slower than the flow so I stay out there on this particular stretch of road. The turn lanes typically arent busy either so I usually have zero issues most of the time.

    This city is just really irritating from a cyclist standpoint as it is not bike friendly at all despite having a population of 38,000. I have taken some precautions to stay on low-trafficked residential roads when at all possible but going to the shopping center prohibits that. We have zero bike lanes and perhaps a handful of bike racks. Most of the time I commute somewhere I have to ride around for a few minutes just to find a place to secure my bike. The icing on the cake is the typical attitude from drivers. They wont give you an inch of room and just act like you are a burden to them. People around here have little or no understanding of how to cope with a cyclist on the road. Some people will give you some breathing room and courtesy, but the majority of them could care less.

  15. #15
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    That's fine, I wasn't accusing you of not obeying the laws, I just wanted to make that statement. In Wisconsin, regardless of speed, you must ride as far to the right as safe and practicable. If the rightmost lane is a substandard lane width, you can take the lane. You can sit there and impede traffic all day long without it being illegal.

    Pursuitor, I do not care what situations I end up in. Most people do not realize I am following them. I highly doubt your fearful situation that you described would actually occur.

  16. #16
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    Tactics on the Road

    Hi

    I am 63 years old. I used to run 10 miles a day for six days a week, rode my bike 25- 30 miles a day 5 days a weekand trained like a power lifter for years.But had to give it up due to back surgery caused by hard labor for years.[Digging ditches, forestry work]

    I love biking! Ride just 12 -15 miles 3/4 times a week and walk the other times. Walking safely can be a challenge of its own! Am nearly run down at least twice a week while in the crosswalk. Usually it is someone text messaging or talking on the phone. As they pass me within inches, they often wave. Similar close calls have happened while riding my bike. Many just stare straight ahead as if you do not even exist.

    Last Wednesday AM some guy passed me on the left while I was in the left turn lane just beginning my turn. I gave plenty of signal time with bright flashers on my arm. He gunned his engine, beeped his horn loudly, and passed me having to go into the on-coming traffic lane to do so. Had he gone to the right lane, which is the through lane, there would have been no problem.

    He stopped about 50 feet away at a local coffee shop. Wow the coffee must be great there! Should I have confronted him? I think not! I can take care of myself, but you just never know, especially in these trying times.

    As far as carrying a weapon on my bike. I have been licensed to do so for many years, BUT I do not live West of the Pecos in the 1850's. [I]No offense intended for those who live[/I] out there. This is not the OLD wild West, nor a nation that we need to be armed everywhere we go. Remember, that in most if not all states, a gun is deadly force, obviously. One might be asking for big trouble if one pulls a gun in a traffic confrontation. In my state, MA, just the mere mention of the weapon is considered deadly force! Is this where we really want to go?

    We need to push for more bike safety on our streets. Many who are training for competition in my area do NOT obey the rules of the road. They go through STOP signs, RED lights etc. In this time of emphasis on being GREEN, we should consider the bike riders who obey the traffic laws and do their best to ride in safety and for their health.

    Just be as careful as you can. Don't confront the driver. As others have said, there are some real nut jobs out there and a lot of drivers under the influence.

    They have no respect for those on motorcycles and even less for those on bikes even if we are obeying the law. The way I look at it is: me and my bike vs car. Not a reasonable "challenge." Too much steel and mass to take them on.

    When I get on a congested street as many of the downtown streets are here, I pull to the right, out of traffic, and just let them pass. Some drivers actually smile and give me a friendly wave, not the one finger salute.

    I decided long ago to save my blood pressure for better things. I plan to be around a while longer so why tempt the fates? I adjusted my riding schedule for less busy times. If you are commuting daily you may not have that option. Most of my rides are earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon when the traffic subsides some.[Depending on the season.] In the Summer heat I ride later at night with enough lighting, front and back, to be easily seen.I also stick to the many options of back roads/side streets.

    I've been hurt twice fairly badly by two car, mad dogs within the last year and a half. Nothing broken and no reconstructive surgery, but one back, neck and hip re-injury that took a year to completely "heal." Actually they will bother me for the rest of my life.

    There were two times when I did react. On one occasion I was nearly run down in the crosswalk and yelled at the driver. He came back and after a few expletives [he said], he was obviously not concerned with the crosswalk laws at all. I told the police for the heck of it. You can probably guess what they said. Guess you have to be hit and nearly killed for your situation to matter. The other time a woman cut me off as I was within 10 feet of her. Thankfully I was just "puttsing" along, but I still re-injured my hip with the abrupt stop and twisting that occurred. I did yell at her and she just smiled.

    Just be safe out there! The confrontation is really not worth it.

  17. #17
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    How else will they learn that what they are doing is illegal if no one tells them?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmsdini
    I do have a lifetime concealed carry permit. I typically do not carry while riding though for a number of reasons, including weight, safety and the probability of the gun falling out somewhere in the open.

    My own philosophy about self-defense simply does not warrant the use of a handgun in an offensive role, and I really do not see anyone pulling a gun out on me for riding my bike as long as I dont aggressively provoke anything. The second they do, its aggravated assault with a deadly weapon which is grounds for police involvement.

    I do appreciate the thought of simply being passive about it. Probably the best way of staying safe and keeping the drama from arising in the first place. I think I will work more toward the goal of simply shrugging off stupid drivers and not letting them bug me so much. Thanks for posting the mapping service as well!
    I agree, and if you are faced with using the gun, you better have no part--verbal or physical--of the escalation. If you go mouthing off helping to create the condition that you must use your gun, good luck explaining that one to the police. I also ride motorcycles, and am faced with these people all the time on the road. They're just a part of riding.

  19. #19
    Yayer!
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    This is a topic that has no real spot on answer, which sucks, but its true. My .02 is this, treat every situation as calmly and rationally as humanly possible. Every person will take your criticism differently so you (obviously) have no idea how they will react. Look at it this way, if the person realized what they did and are within earshot or sight of you they will (in most instances) try to get your attention and apologize; if they dont care screw 'em...its not worth having some cro mag attack you because they arent intelligent enough to realize what they did was wrong. Ant
    Broken ankles = ********!

  20. #20
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    I expect to deal with idiots out on the road, even when I'm driving.

    Used to ride a 9 mile commute from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills to work and I swear everyday there was a close call. People are just not on the lookout for cyclists.

    When you ride long enough you will pick up a better ability to read drivers intentions and expect them to do this or that. You sorta learn what to look for and anticipate. I don't get pissed though, for me it's a "rolls eyes" thing.

    As far as right turn lanes, I ride to the left of it in the lane continuing straight on.

  21. #21
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    I want other people to ride their bikes and I want to do as much as I can to remove the fear element. If they're afraid of riding with cars, people will just use that as another excuse.

  22. #22
    I Ride for Donuts
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    That type of accident is almost always a case of the person in the car simply not realizing how fast you're moving. I have a very rural commute, and I've had a couple people fly by me, only to slam on the brakes and turn right into a driveway directly in front of me, even with no other cars around. It would be just as fast, and better for everyone if they'd just slow down a bit sooner and turn behind me, but from the driver's seat, that looks like it will take more time.
    If they signal, and I if see brake lights, I have the luxury of just jumping out into the lane behind them, and emptying the bike lane so that they can make their turn (rural two lane road with no one else around). This way I don't have to slam on my brakes as much, since I scoot around the left side of the vehicle while they're turning right. I have been known to smack the left rear fender of the car while I go by, just to communicate to the driver my understanding of their complete lack of a grasp of the laws of physics.

    I would not reccomend this tactic on a busy city street.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  23. #23
    Another Retro Grouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    ...I want to do as much as I can to remove the fear element....
    Your advise might work in Eau Claire, it'll get you killed in a big city

  24. #24
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Time for some comic relief. This thread reminds me of a hilarious scene from the British TV series Spaced. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFEJstPBwvw

    On the DVD there is an extended version in the deleted scenes section where at the end she screams "You killed my bike! You bastards!"
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  25. #25
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    Well, depending on traffic laws you could always try this:
    http://nordicgroup.us/s78/flag/flag.htm

    More pictures following.

    Fairly small and light, but it buys you a bit of extra clearance, and the orange one is extremely visible.

    Has a spring, so if it does get hit it won't jar you too much, and while it may annoy some drivers most of them won't want to scratch up their paint.
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