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Scary Commute Situation...(23 posts)

Scary Commute Situation...jrm
Apr 19, 2002 6:21 AM
My afternoon commute takes me south down a frontage with a class 2 bike lane on both sides. When the traffic is bad on the freeway drivers divert over to the frontage road "thinking" they can beat the freeway traffic. Well at the stop signs and lights along the frontage road the cars que (back up).

Im riding along in the bike lane, when a white van stuck in traffic weaves about 2/3's into the bike lane in an attempt to see what was keeping traffic. I weave to get by the van and in passing say " hey stay outta the bike lane". Well the guy in front of him, i assume thought i was talking to him. As im passing this guy he sez, in a agressive manner, and i quote " I SHOULD F*CK YOU UP, BITCH". I in return say "thanks, have a nice day" and he sez " MOTHER F*CKER".

I just wanted to get out of there and put down some distance from this dude before traffic starts to move. This was kinda scary, in that i really think if this guy had the chance he would have acted on his aggressive impulse.

So my question is do most you guys act passively in such a situation and just get outta there? does anyone carry something to protect themselves? i remember one guy in the ol roadies rejoice forum over on MTBR who used to pack a gun when he rode in miami. i dont want to go that far and was thinking about a retractable batton(sp?) or something. Who carrys a phone?
re: Scary Commute Situation...MJ
Apr 19, 2002 6:29 AM
everyone should carry a phone - it's the ultimate tool kit/emergency

people don't like being told they're in the wrong - you're likely to be safer if you're more passive - but I find it difficult to keep my mouth shut when people are plainly and clearly idiots - though that in itself should be a lesson - idiot's especially don't like being told they're wrong - (just look at all those gun owners and Republicans :-)
water bottlescruffyduncan
Apr 19, 2002 6:48 AM
I know a guy who went at a dangerous motorist's car swinging his D lock, personally I prefer to squirt water through the window with my bottle, mischievous and funny rather than psychopathic
Commutingjustina
Apr 19, 2002 6:52 AM
After numerous altercations with Cabs (the worst of the worst) and other negligent drivers forcing me off the road or into other dangerous situations I've concluded that unless you're packing 3000 lbs of steel around you defer to the jerks. Then get their license plate number and call it in or find a cop nearby and tell them what happened. My buddy came upon a patrol car immediately after an incident one time, explained the situation, the officer took off after him, and he road by the guy a few blocks later being cited. Carry a phone, pen, scrap of paper, and always back down in a confrontation with an auto. When contact is eminent I also use an extended leg as a bumper. It's deflected me from a few potential headers and the SPD cleat leaves a little reminder for the driver to be more careful next time.
re: Scary Commute Situation...BikeViking
Apr 19, 2002 8:29 AM
You don't even have gun owners OR republicans in the UK, so how would you know!!!! :o)

Game on?!?!

Scott
not so scarymr_spin
Apr 19, 2002 6:56 AM
Sounds like an idiot just blowing off steam. Most of these a-holes who make comments like that from their cars know they occupy a nice safe position from which to torment you. You are a fool if you let it get to you.

Always ignore any negative comments that come from cars. Don't even react. Pretend you didn't hear it. It's not that hard. If you don't respond, you won't escalate the situation and you won't end up putting the hammer down to "escape." The guy was probably laughing pretty hard as you scrambled to put in some distance.

You're on a bike. There is very little you can do to defend yourself against someone in a car. Even with a gun!
I agree on the ignoring stance.Leisure
Apr 19, 2002 7:17 AM
It's not that you truly ignore them; you obviously need to keep yourself well aware of what they're doing in case they really do pull something. But you refuse to respond. Idiots love to get you riled up. The opposite of what they want is you to casually ride off as if you could care less. Unless they're specifically pursuing you that's the best thing to do.
re: Scary Commute Situation...SteveO
Apr 19, 2002 6:58 AM
in many states, carrying a batton is illegal.

my personal feeling on carrying weapons for road-rage:

worse case scenerio - they guy runs you down; no weapon will help you there.

second worse scenerio - the guy jumps you. Typically, these types are hotheads who just wanna punch you a few times. If you pull out your batton (or whatever) he'll be all to happy to return to his car and get his tire-iron, bat, gun whatever.... you just put yourself in greater danger.

best scenerio - the guy gets out of his car to hassle you, you point at the hundreds of witnesses stuck in traffic; call him a schmuk and enjoy the rest of your ride.
So he called you a name...Uncle Tim
Apr 19, 2002 7:04 AM
You did the right thing. Whenever you see a car where it shouldn't be, or driving in a manner that is unsafe, you need to tell them about it.

So the guy called you a few nasty names. Big deal. I've been around some bad dudes in my time and it has always been my experience that bad dudes don't sit around and talk about it. They don't sit there and tell you they will hurt you - they will simply hurt you. That guy wasn't getting out of his cocoon. That's his bubble of safety from which he can curse you.

Look out for the guys who either get out of the car or make a move to use the car as a weapon. You should be able to discern that threat almost immediately. If he gets out of the car to attack you, then you have the choice to stand and defend or practice your sprinting skills. If he is one of those who wishes to exercise his second amendment rights, then you have a serious problem.

Don't go around scared.
Just don't do anything stupidSoftrider
Apr 19, 2002 7:14 AM
You have to remember that this person is in a car and you are on a bike. If he blows his top, you WILL lose.

I think that the best thing to do is ride defensively and be courteous to the idiots on the road. Try to avoid the most heavily traveled roads if at all possible, I know we have a right to be there, but sometimes it is just best if we are not.

I think that the situation with irrate drivers is a function of our changing society, that is only going to get worse.
Being passive is usually safer.Quack
Apr 19, 2002 7:33 AM
I can fully relate to your anger toward motorists encroaching on your space, especially if you're having a bad day. Occasionally, I find myself flying the bird and calling people names if I'm having a really bad day.

The thing you have to realize is that people on public roads are rarely rational. They are not interested in discussing who was right or wrong, they're just in a hurry and pissed about anything that prevents them from getting somewhere one second sooner. And no one enjoys being reminded that they made a mistake.

So feel free to make gestures and comments to motorists but be prepared to take it all the way if you happen to tap into the wrong person. I would recommend taking the forgive and forget approach over the traffic vigilante approach for safety's sake. As far as my weapon of choice on a bike, I would go with a small can of mace or pepper-spray. Don't choose a weapon that forces you to get closer to your attacker than absolutely necessary or causes you to commit a felony if brandished for assault purposes(gun). I don't know about you but for me at 5'8" 145lbs., kicking anybody's ass that is over 180lbs. in biking shoes on pavement is nearly impossible.

The only time I think I would throw caution to the wind is if someone blatantly and knowingly attempts to injure you. If you escape alive and manage to get a plate or witnesses, press charges and take them on in the legal system. They might just fall under one of the new road rage categories and do some time, and you may even be compensated.

Stay rational and use the spray as a last resort.
Be nice... Genuinely, not sarcastically...Wannabe
Apr 19, 2002 7:35 AM
One thing that really bothers me about roadies is our self-rightousness. Some idiot in a car does something stupid, even if innocently, and we read them the riot act in not-so-civil tones usually. That only angers the drivers and makes the situation worse.

Rather than "Hey! Stay outta the bike lane!" something a little less confrontational is better: "Please be conscious of the bike lane," or "please watch the bike lane." I know this isn't always an option, but it usually is.

The worst is when a car pulls out of a driveway infront of a rider. Yes, the driver, screwed up and should have looked better, but I HATE it when this situation occurs and somebody from my club just gives the driver hell. That does us no good. A friendly reminder to please be watchful of cyclists is the way to go.

And in the event genuine pleasantries don't work, just keep quiet. Sarcastic "Have a nice day!" is no better than reading them the riot act.

Just my opinion. Feel free to read me the riot act.

Andy
I think you're right - Just be the bigger personSoftrider
Apr 19, 2002 7:50 AM
Sometimes it is a matter of the driver not paying close enough attention and making a mistake. Other times it is just a bad attitude.

If someone makes a mistake, and there is no malicious intent then yelling or jesturing is just going to give them a lesser view of cyclists in general.

If someone is just being an a-hole, then you are just stooping to there level if you retaliate, and that is probably what they want. If don't stoop to their level, maybe they would think twice about doing it again in the future.
"In the bike lane!", or "Coming 'round!" would also work.Leisure
Apr 19, 2002 8:29 AM
I agree with you, it's easy to "over instruct" or come across as accusatory, inciting (inviting?) something that was never intended. Just stating what happened and letting the other person figure it out works more often than I used to think. That's not an excuse for the other driver (not that that's what you were saying), but it's good advice...in general and not just for cycling.
AgreedCRM
Apr 19, 2002 9:06 AM
I agree with Andy's comments about drivers who simply make a mistake. I think the same holds true when I'm driving: I get mad at people who do things intentionally, not make mistakes.

However, the vast majority of incidents with cars that I have experienced occur when the drivers are well aware of my existance but are simply in too much of a hurry to be safe or considerate. I'm making a concerted effort to control my impulses to lash out, but it's difficult to be civil when someone intentionally puts you at risk.
re: Scary Commute Situation...xxl
Apr 19, 2002 9:22 AM
I'm a former "active response" guy, who now sides with the "just get outta there" school. Nothing traumatic happened, I guess I grew up (old?), and realized getting angry at cars wasn't getting me the inner peace and tranquility thing. Plus, it's a lot safer in this day of accessible and affordable handguns; you just never know who's packing.

Having said that, when I cruise "questionable" areas, or simply feel the need for a little more nonlethal security, I like to carry "Halt," the same pepper spray the USPS used to use. It's cheap, has a little clip so it's always handy, and it ain't just for dogs. (Fact is, I have used it--just never on a dog.) If you've ever caught a dose, you know it's nowhere near as incapacitating as CS/CN stuff, but it will demotivate most casual jerks that might try to screw with you. It's not a cell phone, but it can provide you some escape time if you need it.
2 tons vs. 20lbskenyee
Apr 19, 2002 11:37 AM
Why would a driver need to pack? If I were an irate driver, I'd just follow you around until you're in a deserted area and then tap you or bump you from behind. You'll probably get a broken collar bone and be laid up in a hospital for months. Wouldn't even leave a trace of evidence and you wouldn't be able to read the license plate fast enough while you're trying to figure out how to tuck and roll.

BTW, in some states, it's a felony to carry mace or pepper spray w/o a license. And it doesn't always work on people (there are documented cases where people who are used to eating spicy foods aren't affected).

2 tons of armor vs. a 20lb bike is a fight you stay away from...
2 tons vs. 20lbsxxl
Apr 19, 2002 1:17 PM
Yes, a driver wouldn't need to pack, but some do (check out the "cycling horror stories" post here). Even so, I'm with you that nonconfrontation works best. But, that's not always an option. You will have people try to screw with you, for whatever reasons, in their random acts of violence mode, and riding off may not be possible. Like you said, they could always follow you to a deserted area, even if you tried to ride off. (In fact, I'm always more scared when I get hassled on some back country road vs. a busy street--no witnesses.) That's where defense comes in.

Fortunately, in my home state, pepper spray isn't licensed (I guess the stronger stuff is, though). And yes, it won't stop a determined dusthead. But, IMHO the vast majority of jerks out there are like most dogs; just not all that much fight in 'em, really, especially if you're no longer seen as "easy meat". I've found that on the rare occasions where I can't get away, it can help avoid problems. Often the threat is enough to avoid further violence. And yes, there are those that can handle pepper spray, but I'm betting they're few and far between. (Let's face it, if a dude that eats pepper spray is giving you a problem, you're likely hosed no matter what you do.)

I really do fall into the "ride away" school, but there are times when you can't, and this has worked for me. It's incapacitating (to most), but nonlethal, giving you time to get away.
Agree w/ spray as a last line of defensekenyee
Apr 20, 2002 7:15 AM
...just that some folks like those in MA or Toronto had better research local laws if they want to mailorder pepper spray or buy it out of state. Sad to think that being able to defend yourself is not always legal everywhere. Wanted to warn you that it doesn't always work, but it sounds like know about it already :-)

You're right about some people packing in cars and using them, but those are mostly likely the psychos who get guns illegally (as in that doctor's unlucky case). If those gang bangers had been smart, they would have just run him off the road and not left evidence (they probably left a casing behind for the police to match up w/ their gun), but that wouldn't be good enough for their initiation probably :-P
I just smile & show 'em my peacemakerSlipstream
Apr 19, 2002 9:26 AM
and I have never had any problems!
My Peacemaker:

M61A1 "Vulcan" 20mm Cannon

The M61A1 Vulcan cannon is a six-barrel 20mm gun capable of firing 6600 rounds per minute. Its operation is based upon the principle used in the rapid-firing gun invented by Richard J.Gatling in the 1860s. The six rotating barrels, firing one at a time, permit a high rate of fire while at the same time reducing the problem of barrel wear and heat generation. The Vulcan is equipped on the F104, F105B/D/F, f15, F16, F11A, and B52H.

The Vulcan is one of the USAF weapons that served in Operation Desert Storm.

It is nothing to trifle with. Peace, bro ;>)
Think they'll listen to Reason?Andy M-S
Apr 19, 2002 1:15 PM
(This will only make sense to those who have read Snow Crash...)
Think they'll listen to Reason?Slipstream
Apr 19, 2002 1:33 PM
They'll listen to Reason.

Yes, they will--everyone listens to Reason, bro!

Take your avatar and your AK47 with you and you'll have a grand ol' time
Confronting the @$$holes is often useless and dangeroustz
Apr 19, 2002 9:54 AM
I am a physically weak person, untrained in hand-to hand combat. I don't think that I can fight effectively even with a baton. By the way, carrying a gun is plain stupid. Just think about all the cops converging on you, after you draw your weapon.
Very often, I'd say most of the time, boneheads who yell insults know that they can handle you easily. Otherwise they would not be yelling. This is simple animal instinct - don't attack the bigger animal.
Therefore, I believe that the safest way to be is just to ignore such people, as it was pointed out by many.