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A Little Road Rage.....(35 posts)

A Little Road Rage.....jrm
Jan 10, 2002 7:29 AM
My commute home got a little interesting last night. Im wondering if i was right in what i did or overreacted. Throughout the commute i was keeping pace with traffic from light to light. As i and the traffic enter a residential area the road narrows down to one through land and one left hand turn lane as you approach an intersection. There is no space to run along traffic on this stretch, so you have to be in traffic.

The light at the intersection was RED and traffic was stopped or in the process of stopping. I was in the through lane making my way towards the stopped traffic getting ready to make a hand signal to get into the left turn lane.

While i was in the line of traffic, i looked down to notice a subaru forester behind me which was about 1 to 2 feet off my rear. The driver of the forester, little old guy with glasses and a baseball cap,was pressing down and letting off of the accellerator making the car surge closer to me and the engine race. In response i looked back at the driver and his surging of the car towards me and engine racing continued as he got even closer to the rear of my bike. With this i flipped the guy off. The lunging and engine racing continued. i pulled to the left of the subaru and he raced up next to me. At this time i spit on the windshield of his car. The subaru driver then turned the car towards me as if to scare me, hit me or pin me between his car and the car on the other side of me. At this time i was focking pissed because i felt that the driver was ready and willing to hitto hit me to make a point, or teach me a lesson or show me why i shouldnt be on the street. All i could say to myself was " If this guy hits me im pulling his ass outta his car and beating the shIt outta him ".So i stopped, made eye contact with the driver and yelled "Your focking car is not a weapon, asshole". Then i went on my way.

I know i escallated the situation by flipping the guy off. I do ride defensively and defend my space on the road in traffic. And i try to make my movements in traffic as predictable as i can to aware drivers around me. But i tend to question what i did on the basis of making the situation worse instead of correcting the situation. I know that a in a fight with a car, me being on a bike, im gonna lose regardless of how good my intentions are. I commute on this stretch of road almost daily at roughly the same time of day. Given the situation of yesterday, I feel that if this guy sees me on the road in the future he just might try to put me into a parked car or something. Because as i see it no one got the upper hand at the conclusion of the situation. Tell you the truth im kinda scared of this given the current state of car vs. bicyclist accidents and deaths where the cylist is injured or killed and the driver of the car is never sited.

Was i right by reacting as i did? How far does my right to defend my self go in such a situation? Should i carry something with me to defend myself? thanks everyone.. Sorry bout the spelling.
2 big mistakes:morrison
Jan 10, 2002 7:42 AM
1. Never flip off a driver. Never. If you are in front of him or next to him, he can kill you. If you are behind him, it is marginally 'safer,' but he can pull over, circle the block, pull a gun (???) . . . who knows. It's just not worth it.

2. Don't spit! What kind of reaction did you think you would incur? I know that, in the heat of the battle, emotions can get the best of you, but you are in the weak position. You have to think defensively, and you have to remember that the number one priority is to protect yourself. Would you spit on a guy pointing a gun at you?

When someone is angry or behaving irrationally, you will never be able to convince him, during the short contact you have on the road, that you are right.

That said, I have a buddy who told me about a similar situation. He was ahead of the offensive driver in line at a 4-way signal. The guy was gunning his engine and running up on him, yelling for him to get out of the traffic lane. My buddy did just that. He jumped off his bke, grabbed it, and ran to the shoulder in mock terror. He put his hands up in the air, and started yelling for help. The guy in front of him, as well as the guy behind the $h!thead came to his defense and chewed out the other driver.

Good luck in the future
agree, you were way out of lineDog
Jan 10, 2002 7:55 AM
With what you did, I'm surprised he didn't run you over. That was way out of line.

I would have glared at him, maybe even stuck my hand out like a cop indicating to stop, or possibly shouted "what's your problem?" or something like that.

Don't do anything you would not want to have displayed on the evening news or quoted in court, not to mention anything that might incite a person with a 3,000 pound weapon to use it on you. Would you spit at a mugger pointing a gun at you? Sort of the same thing. As a general rule in life, losing your temper never is good.

Even all this aside, ignoring your personal safety, now this guy may hate all cyclists for the rest of his life. He just not be as careful as he should with the next cyclist he encounters on some lonely country road. So, you may not be endangering only yourself. We could be guilty by association in his mind.

double agree....rollo tommassi
Jan 10, 2002 8:18 AM
Don't lower yourself to his level of behavior.

You struck first - when you spat on his car.

I understand your fear, the engine revving behind you and all. And I'm the guiltiest of all when it comes to not speaking my mind to motorists. It's been the advice of others on this board that have really taught me the error of MY ways (ha!)

But, be like bamboo in the storm and bend - perhaps by stepping aside. Then you can 'kill em with kindness' - smile and wave at them! But get the license plate number too!!
Sounds like the driver ALREADY hates cyclists!Tig
Jan 10, 2002 10:59 AM
For him to act so aggressively in the fist place, the driver seems to already has a bad attitude towards cyclists. Who knows if it is from past negative experiences? Maybe he was having a really bad day already. No excuse, either way.

Bringing a bike to a car fight is never a good idea!
I'll never understand comments like thiskenyee
Jan 10, 2002 10:48 AM
"circle the block, pull a gun (???)"

Why would he even need to? Contrary to what jrm believes, a weapon is any object (including a pen if I stab you with it) that you use to do harm upon someone else. A car makes an infinitely more effective weapon than something that fires a tiny projectile (you'd have to aim from a moving car at a moving target). Look at morey's post to see how much more effective a car is. A simple bump to you tire leaves no evidence behind (unless the guy runs you over and gets your bike stuck under his car like that nut in Chicago). Even a tire iron or baseball bat swung from a car's open window is a much better weapon.

Respect things that are bigger than you. When I drive, I respect buses and trucks. When I walk, I respect cars and cyclists.
Would you be really happy saying "I had the right of way!!!" while you were in a hospital in pain for several weeks w/ broken bones?
Would your family be saying "but he had the right of way!!!" while they're burying you?

Something to think about...
Yes, "dead right" is still dead! -NMTig
Jan 10, 2002 11:02 AM
I'll never understand comments like thismorrison
Jan 10, 2002 11:42 AM
I think you're taking that out of context. It was a list, however abbreviated, of imagined horribles. The point is that which we all are trying to make: When you are on a bike, you essentially are defenseless against a vehicle. However, I also would not flip off or spit on a pedestrian . . .why? B/c he might have a gun. (As an aside, I also like to think of myself as above that sort of behavior.)
likelihood of imagined horribleskenyee
Jan 10, 2002 5:21 PM
I was pointing out that it's unlikely that'll happen when there are much more efficient ways of doing the same end result.

A pedestrian normally doesn't have road rage problems, so in that case the cyclist probably provoked the pedestrian by buzzing them. I can't see a pedestrian jumping in the way of a cyclist directly...basic physics: cyclist has more momentum and pedestrian will likely get hurt (i.e., it'd be a dumb thing to do).
Jan 10, 2002 7:46 AM
I'm not sure why it is that drivers don't realize that
in these situations, they have to stop no matter what.
I've been in several situations where I was STOPPED at
light in traffic, and had the person behind me throw a
fit about me being "in the way." They don't seem to notice
that after going another three feet, they have to stop

My reaction is always to get over, let them move up three
feet, then wave and ride off, leaving them stuck in traffic.
That's pretty much the only time i'll run a light, but I
think it's worth it.

Once when the jagoff in question had his window down. I
asked him politely if he wanted me to try to get the
three cars stopped in front of me out of his way, too.
He was pissed, but it's because I pointed out how stupid
he was being.

I always prefer to piss them off by being a smart-ass,
rather than agressive. It's just so much more satisfying.

Be safe.
Way out of line...Brooks
Jan 10, 2002 8:16 AM
I got to agree with Dog and Morrison, as well. You just escalated the situation into something that could have gotten way out of hand (and still may in the future). I've found that you can disarm motorists by making eye contact, smiling and waving. It usually catches them off guard, sometimes they may realize how foolish they are being, and it is much better than flipping them off or spitting. You always got to be defensive as you are unprotected against idiots with several thousand pounds of steel in their control.

re: A Little Road Rage.....biknben
Jan 10, 2002 8:22 AM
You made a bad situation worse. But I have to admit you needed to do something.
I ride in an agressive yet predictable and lawful manner. If traffic slows to my pace I will take the lane. Especially if there's the chance someone will make a right turn into me. I often take the lane at red lights unless traffic is really backed up.

In your situation, waiting at a light with cars infront of me, I would have done my best to ignore him. The light would change soon enough and it would be over. As he drove by I would make a point of laughing at him. It's one way to belittle them without triggering an immediate response like "flipping the bird" might do.

In most cases I just try to smile and wave (NOT with the finger). I guess it's the grown up way of singing "Sticks and Stones".
re: A Little Road Rage.....MJ
Jan 10, 2002 8:30 AM
don't spit - it's rude...

had a guy swerve at me last week after I yelled at him to watch where he was going after he almost hit me - he tried to pin me against another car - I squeezed through and kept going, he pulled up beside me and lost it screaming at me to stop that he was gonna get me etc. - I didn't I waved, smiled, kept going (luckily was turning) - I'm gonna hold my own in traffic and I'm gonna take my lane and not be intimidated but you gotta know/assume the limits - this guys had obviously had a bad day and probably a bad childhood - I have no doubt he would have hurt me if he could have without hitting another car

I think about it like this if I did stop, pull the guy from his car and cream the guy (with the very serious adrenaline pumping through me a very good possibility in mid-workout) - what do you think the Police will say? (if you answered self-defence think again) - if I get run over and injured/killed in that kind of situation what will I say to my wife? (assuming I could)

I've had all sorts of people pissed off that they can't race 30 yds to the next red light - let them by wave and smile when you pass them

recognise your weakness - take a registration/plate number - call the Police and report the guy - I wish I always took this advice - we're so fragile
Where do you live? Thanks to you I wouldn't want to ride there for a while! nmMB1
Jan 10, 2002 8:48 AM
Jan 10, 2002 9:45 AM
how you behave, good or bad, reflects on all cyclists.
Try passive aggressivemr_spin
Jan 10, 2002 8:49 AM
I do my best to ignore anyone who tries to shock me by yelling, gunning engines, etc. It's a passive aggressive thing. Sometimes are harder than others, but I still do it. Or at least pretend to do it. I always stay aware and stay defensive, but I don't want to give anyone the pleasure of getting a reaction out of me.

But...If the guy is gunning the engine AND surging, I would definitely not ignore the driver. I would turn slowly around and give a long stare with no real expression on my face, then turn back around and go about pretending to ignore the driver. I've seen John Wayne do it a dozen times in those old westerns.

You are totally at a disadvantage, so you are best off not doing anything to aggravate the driver. That means no yelling, hand gestures, spitting, water bottle squirts, etc. Just stay cool and hope the driver doesn't decide to kill you. There isn't much else you can do except stay at home.
I understand, butUncleMoe
Jan 10, 2002 8:50 AM
The spitting might have been a bit much. The flipping off...questionable. Despite how hard it is at times, I've come to the conclusion that just staying calm is the best policy in these instances.

Even when drivers are stupid and by some turn of events I end up next to them at a red light down the road, I don't even make eye contact. You never know who you are dealing with.

With that said, I can't deny that I've never flipped a driver off, and later worry just as you did if this person might turn around and try to run me over. I've also imagined carrying a small rock in my jersey pocket, maybe the size of a ping pong ball, to toss at drivers that throw stuff or get really close and scream at the top of theiry lungs as they drive pass.

In the end though, we are better bikers, and better for society, if we stay calm.
agree butMJ
Jan 10, 2002 9:38 AM
I want to patent a handlebar egg holder - where at the beginnig of the week I could place a fresh egg in a soft, easily accessible holder - when someone pisses me off I could, at the right moment, deposit the egg on (or in sunroof/open window?) their vehicle

revenge fantasy's are sad
Jan 10, 2002 9:40 AM
but liberating. What's the quote? "In their dreams, all men are great".

I'd consider buying your invention. On a hot day and having eaten all the food, you could always cook the egg on the side of the road.
Jan 10, 2002 9:50 AM
the device I have in mind is kind of like a small version of one of those old leather Euro-helmets, which would encase the egg 3/4 up and support the egg standing upright - fat end at the bottom
Jan 10, 2002 11:08 AM
No! I eat my egg from the pointy end, so the fat side must be up!
I've had good luck with...The Great Satchmo
Jan 10, 2002 8:58 AM
the jerk me off jesture. Just last week (not bike related), a guy acting like a jerk, so I gave it to him. he swings around the parking lot and cuts my exit off as there are cars coming into the lot. gets out-threatens 'how about I pop a cap in your head' and reaches in his coat. I go trought the normal formalities of 'are you a focking moron?' He tries to open the door before my girlfriend was able to lock the door. he follows me out and threatens the same. This guys wins the human race!
re: A Little Road Rage.....morey
Jan 10, 2002 9:01 AM
I have done similar things, however they are not right. I will give you an example of when I was hit by a car. It was 6:45 am, I am riding on a bike path. A truck pulss up behind me stopping-surging etc. He pissed me off, I said something to him. To make a long story short, he hit my rear tire, I went flying, Cracked my skull, had a concussion, broke my collarbone and disclocated my shoulder.
He drove off - the car won! It still pisses me off, but taught me a lesson.
You never know how crazy they are until its too late. -NMTig
Jan 10, 2002 11:18 AM
Be Coolvitusdude
Jan 10, 2002 10:18 AM
Being human, its difficult not to react emotionally to that kind of situation, but its in your best interest to be calm and not react aggressively or emotionally. For various reasons, this driver was looking for someone to take out his frustrations on. It had nothing to do with you personally; you were just a convenient target. You really cannot tell by looking whether someone is just noise or whether they are ready to commit assault or murder. Why take the chance? My suggestions:

Try to stare him down. If he still pulls up on you, as has happened to me a few times, move out of the way. Pull off to the side, or behind him, or off the road if you have to to get this creep out of your life. Do you really want him anywhere near you on the road anyway?

You may lose a couple minutes time, but the rest of your ride will be much more pleasent. And safe.
re: A Little Road Rage.....SnowBlind
Jan 10, 2002 11:18 AM
Bad ideas dude, the car aways wins.
The best thing to do is stand your ground and ignore him if this is safe. If it is not, turn your bike sideways and ask him if you can help him. Be nice. Get the plate number. Call 911 and report a drunk/reckless/under the influence driver. Don't mention you are on a bike (just describe it: he was surging up on my rear wheel/tried to run me off the road, they may assume you are a motorcyclist), otherwise they may ignore you.
A little twerp in a Suburu is safe enuf to do this, if it is a big (insert favorite idiot) in a sports car/truck/muscle car, get out of the way when you can, but don't back down.
re: A Little Road Rage.....xxl
Jan 11, 2002 6:34 AM
This guy's idea about how to make the complaint is excellent! I agree with all those who realize the car is mightier than the bike (even Lance's), but it has also been my experience that complaints to the police don't do much. I've had my share of "situations" while riding, and on several occasions I've done "the right thing," i.e., nonviolent/no response to the offending driver, taking down their license number, etc., and talking with the police, filing complaints, and so on. It never goes farther than that, and really, how could it? It's usually your word against theirs, with few if any available witnesses. About all the cops can do is maybe call the driver, and tell them to quit doing that. Charges that would stick are typically impossible. And, regretably, even in some "enlightened" PD's, car-on-bike violence isn't exactly a high priority. It might indeed help one's case to just say "the guy was tailgating me bigtime", or something like that. I've also had at least a more sympathetic ear when I complain to the BIKE cops (ask for one from the PD dispatcher), who probably have seen their share of car/bike issues.

Still, I continue doing "the right thing." It helps if you remind yourself that tomorrow, or the next day, you'll have forgotten the whole thing, and you'll still be riding. And, if riders continue to file complaints, vs. personal confrontations, eventually police departments will start making those calls, and drivers may get the picture (or at least get sick of the police attention).

I have to admit, I wasn't always this way. In my youth, I had a quite different and much more confrontational style of dealing with the problem. Running down drivers, stopping next to them to ream them out, kicking door panels, and generally trying to make myself a hardcase was my rule. I even maced a couple of 'em with pepper spray one time(hey, who said it was just to stop dogs?) when a carload of young tuffs pulled over to "beat my ass" (their description, not mine) for being on the road. But I found that this did even less than doing "the right thing" would have (except maybe the pepper spray incident; the sound of those fellows choking and sputtering while I rode off was and remains supremely satisfying, I have to admit).

Truly, the short-term adrenal rush of violently confronting offending drivers, I realized, wasn't worth anything in terms of my future riding. It just put me in harm's way, and hastened the day when I might just happen upon the jerk driver who just happened to be well-armed. And, let's face it, being confrontational doesn't do any favors for the next rider that guy runs into (no pun intended). My advice is keep calm, let harm pass on, and ride tomorrow.
re: A Little Road Rage.....4bykn
Jan 10, 2002 11:40 AM
I know it's easy to come up with responses while sitting calmly in front of the computer, but spitting on the car? If somebody spit on my car I'd be pretty pi$$ed off.

Add this to the list of possible alternative actions: While sitting in front of the moron with the racing engine, calmly pull out your cell phone, hit the local PD on quick-dial, and report the license plate. Tell them it's a case of either assault or road rage.
Happened to us with bad results!!Andante
Jan 10, 2002 1:02 PM
My buddy and I were commuting home a few days ago and a Maxima comes up on our rear wheels and sits 2 feet off for about 1/4 mile. It was only a two lane road in a residental neighborhood. When It widened to a turn lane, the guy passes us, and slows down, so that we had to hit our brakes, not to rear end him! Heck, we were going about 15 miles and hour, and had to slow for the car! My buddy sprints around the right side of the car and gets in front. So the dude in the Maxima hit him. This pinch flatted the rear tire, and my buddy was able to do one of those jump off the bike and run next to it things. The car stopped, and my buddy went back to it pounded the hood in, and pulled the guy out through the window. The cops said that it was merely a road rage issue, and both were equally guilty. The cops said no traffic laws were broken, so the case would have to be in civil court-- assult etc. The moral is that Car vs Bike is a loosing battle for the bike. Las Vegas has been ranked recently as one of the most dangerous cites for cyclists and pedestrians. Know where you are, and how exposed you are!!
Being dissed by motorists.guido
Jan 10, 2002 1:27 PM
Today is the second nice day after a spell of cold, dark and rainy weather, and everybody's ready to kill. Unknowingly, I decide to take a different route to work, on a cut-through used by cars wishing to avoid a left turn light.

One thing I like to show cars is that, if they're taking a short-cut on side streets off the main roads, they can expect to deal with other road users, pedestrians, kids, and bicyclists like me. Those roads with 25 mph speed limits that go through residential neighborhoods are mine. I claim them by riding them. If some @$$hole in an SUV wants to get someplace fast, he can just use the high speed roads with all the others. This little side road is mine, and if he wants to use it, he'll have to share it with me.

So today an SUV passes impatiently just before a stop sign. There's another SUV behind him, getting over on the left ready to pass, but I pull over into the lane, practically tailgating the SUV in front of me, and signaling that I'm fixing to make a left turn at the stop sign. The SUV behind backs off and gets in behind me, as I turn left and the SUV in front turns right, in a smooth, effortless flow, just like traffic is supposed to move.

There was a pickup truck behind the SUV following me. He also made a left turn, then red-lined his engine as he passed me.

I thought, "Wow, I'll stay off this road! These people get all confused when they have to deal with a bicyclist!" All I have to do is go one block over and I have a parallel route, although not quite as fast, on a tree-lined street with beautiful houses on either side, and the only traffic is a housewife who takes her little poodle out to pee.

But then I realized that being disrespected by people just because they're driving a car and I'm riding a bicycle is NOT ACCEPTABLE behavior, and, to feel equal to them, I must take a stand. It is not emotional so much as a rational desire to "set things straight" between me and the person dissing me, to let him know that I am his equal, not some homeless or green earth schmuck purposefully dissing him by getting in his way.

While I agree with the posts above advocating non-confrontation, I still want to win the power game with these people, so I can feel, if not superior, at least their equal. A few words usually do the trick, but never disrespecting words, and no threatening gestures. I kind of treat them like children, which is what they usually are at the time.

As our part in the fight against terrorism, we must keep riding, maintain our presence on the roads as a normal part of vehicular traffic, all the more so after one of us suffers a terrorist act by some stupid person driving a car. Every time I go out on my bike, I take possession of the road. The road is mine. I'll share it with everybody else, but I'll be damned if anyone will intimidate me to give up that right.
I did a big bo-bo today alsoCT1
Jan 10, 2002 1:33 PM
A car made a very sudden stop in the middle of a right hand turn and I actually body checked the rear of the car. I cursed the driver really loudly which wasn't appropriate because the driver did have the turn signals going.

I felt like a REAL schmuck as I came around the side of the car and the drive asked if I was OK. It made it even worse when I realized the driver was a TOTAL SoCal babe. As I rode away I felt like a total loser!

Not to add salt to the wound...Geof
Jan 10, 2002 7:11 PM
But you were in the bad. To a casual observer YOU would have been the one that made the first move.

However, I have been in the situation before as well. What's with these old geezer's and the bike shiot? My buddy and I were riding a few weeks ago at 7:00 AM. Some old ass rails up behind us, honks profusely and then barly goes around us. Keep in mind, there was an ENTIRE lane that he could have EASILY moved into. He got the bird and a few foul words from both of us. We were both in fighting spirits at that point and just hoped the dude stopped... he didn't.

Most drivers are simply ignorant when it comes to driving... much less driving "defensively"

Keep riding. It's part of what make the road fun... I especially like semi's flying by me at 80 mph.... WEEEEEEE...
I wish more bikers weren't wimpsJohn Doe
Jan 11, 2002 1:34 AM
If idiots like your tailgater thought a biker might snatch them out of their car and beat some sense into them, I guarantee these cowards would think twice about pretending they're tough guys.

"Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the face"
Mike Tyson
And here I thought...Leisure
Jan 11, 2002 2:23 AM
...that road rage was on the decline. It's been a good long while since I've dealt with any sort of road rage, and here in Utah that's really unusual. Even the Suburbans have been well-behaved. Weird.
You're right to be angry, but not necessarily to react the way you did. But then, I've reacted in even worse fashions and am not particularly proud of it, either. This is what I've been doing lately instead: pull to the side, but VERY SLOWLY, as if you're only paying attention to him because you happen to feel like it. You can even smirk if you please. They're going to get what they want anyway, but at least this way they're only getting it on your terms and timetable (ie-you're in control, not their threats), and some of the time you'll actually end up diffusing the situation. If they still rip away, you at least know you got under their skin without being retaliatory. I use this waiting game with overly-demanding people with great success at my workplace, but I've never thought to use it on the road. Maybe that's why I haven't been seeing much road rage lately.
Frankly, I can't stand the fact that I have to mediate how people threaten me on the road, because ultimately it's the law that's telling us to give in to threatening people's demands/terrorism. It's to the point where average citizens are required to be impromptu volunteer public therapists for those that would perpetrate them, assault them, etc.. I can't help but belabor this political aside because I think it just spells out how lazy and ineffective our law enforcement system is. End angry propaganda of the day.
re: A Little Road Rage.....Jimm
Jan 11, 2002 1:54 PM
You're fortunate the driver didn't respond by spitting on you or worse. Like so many others have said, you made matters worse. Another thing -- think about the next cyclist. This guy could easily take out his anger on the next rider he comes across....someone who is totally innocent. Technically, you didn't "DEFEND" yourself. You were the aggressor. It's virtually impossible for a person on a two-wheeled machine to defend one self from a 2-ton hunk of metal. You shouldn't even attempt it. My moto: Ride hard -- ride fast -- ride SAFE; for it is always better to ride than to recover. If you see him again, IMHO, you should swallow your pride and make peace with him. So what if you eat some humble pie and apologize. So what if he thinks he got over on you? So what if he "wins"? As long as you're SAFE and have peace of mind.... Take care. Thanks for being honest and sharing.