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We are in a battle with autos ...(41 posts)

We are in a battle with autos ...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 6:21 AM
After almost 24 years of serious riding I now see that the fight to ride safely and unharassed on the roads is reaching critical point. Things are getting worse friends. They have brought out the heavy tanks (suv's) and warlike rhetoric (read any car column in any newspaper and note the attitude to bicycles on the streets) and chemical warfare (code red days that make it dangerous to not only ride but breathe).
They (car addicts) want us off the road and now they will simply run us down (re:Houston!!!). If I hear "get the f*** off the road" screamed at me from a passing car one more time I will be looking for a little satisfaction. If another driver wants to prove his manhood by throwing something at me I am going after them.
I believe in peaceful co-existence but it is not working. I have a riding buddy who has a policy of "courier revenge" for drivers who play games with him. Courier revenge is a shot of pepper spray at the next stoplight for the offending driver. I can't do that but he does and after this weekend of buzzing by a few drivers I don't disagree with him.
Please don't.....Rode Warrior
Jul 2, 2002 6:25 AM
It will only perpetuate the cycle, and lead to me getting hurt. As I am under strict orders to not get killed (or disabled), I would appreciate it a lot.

Second the Please don't...JL
Jul 2, 2002 6:56 AM
I have similar orders.


Are you government property....mlester
Jul 2, 2002 6:56 AM
or just married?
Are you government property....Rode Warrior
Jul 2, 2002 10:24 AM
Happily married, and under verbal contract to not die in the next 100 years.

The Courier SolutionGK
Jul 2, 2002 6:43 AM
is no solution, and it is one of the reasons why couriers are held in low regard by drivers. (Whether the rest of their PR problem is deserved is a matter of debate.)

It does recreational cyclists no good to be associated with such behavior. THAT SAID, I DO carry pepper spray with me as a defense aganist dogs and drivers who threaten me. I've never had to use it.

WHAT WE NEED is some action at various levels of government -- the cops need to enforce the laws and take cyclists complaints seriously. The municipalities need to design bike-friendly routes, the states need to prosecute crimes against bicyclists, and the feds need to launch the public service awareness campaign (a la those NBC "The More You Know PSA's) that feature famous people telling American drivers to give cyclists a break.

I firmly believe a couple of PSA's featuring Jeff Gordon, Pamela Anderson, Eminem, and Barkley in cycling gear telling drivers that next cyclist they think about sideswiping for fun (and boy is it NOT fun), might be "me". It's not funny. It's no fun. And it's a serious crime.

Fight the good fight, my friends. And don't wage tactics that won't win over anyone who is not a cyclist.

Ride like champions.

that's a little kookyDougSloan
Jul 2, 2002 6:47 AM
I remember as much, albeit still not very much, hostility back in the 70's. I was intentionally run into a ditch.

The best you can do, IMO, is be a good will ambassador of the sport. You catch more flies with honey...

Your attitude likely could lead to escalation of a battle we cannot win, at least out on the roads. I don't want that battle to occur.

Just last night.....tronracer
Jul 2, 2002 7:01 AM
Had a guy pass me really close and yell, "ride on the sidewalk fagg0t." So I caught up to him at the light and said, now excuse me here I was pretty upset, "What the F**K did you say to me fat ass?" "Uh....Uh..I said to ride on the sidewalk." So I politely told him that it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk and I have every right to ride my bike on the street and told him that if he rode, he would understand that and might even lose some weight. They thanked me and left. Well... we both left.
avoid the bad roads nmishmael
Jul 2, 2002 7:58 AM
you're lucky he wasn't drunk and had a gun in the car (nm)ColnagoFE
Jul 2, 2002 8:41 AM
Great...Just what we need...biknben
Jul 2, 2002 7:02 AM
99% of motorists don't give a crap. Get over yourself. You think making a scene at a light is going to raise awareness of cyclists? You're going to show everyone we are elitist snobs that think we own the road.

You got buzzed? Yeah so...your only two feet from the car to begin with. What's another 6 inches? Some idiot yelled? I pretend I didn't even hear it. I'm not going to give him the satisfaction to think that what he did even effected me.

Childhood story:
I played baseball growing up. I'd proudly wear my hat to school. At recess, the class bully would snatch it from my head and run around with it expecting me to take chase. I'd just ignore him and eventually he'd give it back. Then he never bothered to do it again. There was no satisfaction.

Ride your bike as if you're deaf and blind. If you provide satisfaction to the drivers it will continue to get worse. If something gets dangerous be prepared. Pay attention to license plates, carry a phone or something.

Lastly, consider the fact that riding a bike is dangerous. For every aggresive driver out to get you there are ten more just plain clueless ones. Any of which can put you in a ditch and drive off. If getting buzzed or yelled at is too much for you then stick to the MUT. You'll find that dog leashes and rollerbladers are just as bad.
Right on, biknben!JBurton
Jul 2, 2002 9:35 AM
I worry about the motorist not paying attention, more than the actively aggresive ones. Ignore the jeers and beers, but watch out for the girls putting on makeup and the business men on the cell phone in a giant SUV and the suburban soccer moms yelling at kids in the back seat and the old people who can't see red lights, much less cyclists, and the drunks and the teenagers and the....

When a guy calls me "fag" or throws a coke at me or laughs or honks the horn to shake me up, at least I know he saw me! Ignore these people. They probably have much, much less enjoyable lives than you and are just jealous.
the best answer is to make all people ride bikesSpirito
Jul 2, 2002 7:20 AM
no more harassment or side swiping.

show them the way - spread the word.

any bike !!

violence attracts violence (but if nobody is looking and you are sure it will drive the message home belt the shit out of them ) ;-) - failing that keep a piece of paper and a pencil in your jersey - report them and dont charge them if you think they are capable of understanding their transgression. good is usually understood.

all we need is love and 2 wheels.

Holy cow!! Serious anger management required.Quack
Jul 2, 2002 7:33 AM
I'll admit that the story of the two cyclists being struck by the truck in Houston got me to reconsider commuting daily. But taking offensive action against motorists that yell out windows is a bit extreme. The only time that I will take offensive action is if someone intentionally attemps to harm me. Any other action taken to attack motorists will do our cause more harm than good. I can see a healthy judgement in favor of a motorist sprayed with pepper spray in the near future.

What I have come to realize over the past couple years of commuting daily is that the majority of motorists don't mind sharing the road with bicycles, provided the bicyclists act predictably, don't break normal traffic laws, and don't impede the flow of traffic too much. There are always going to be some motorists that hate you due to some past experience with a bicyclist that pissed them off, but if you ride professionally and shrug off their narrow-minded comments and gestures, you will further the cause of peaceful coexistence.

There are a few givens in the cycling life. More cars will be on the road every day, the roads will get wider, and the shoulders will get narrower. For us to maintain a safe riding atmosphere in these urban jungles of alpha-motorists, pollution, and congestion, it is going to take some serious education, lobbying, and diligence. If we could get even one of these bike hating motorists to discover the pleasure of road riding, it would be energy well spent. How great would it if everyone had to ride a bike through the middle of a major city prior to being issued a driver's license? Unfortunately, it will never happen. And I doubt that we will ever reach a point where fossil-fuel burners have to get out of our way. But if we play our cards right and elect people into office that care about cyclist's rights, we may just see designated bike lanes on every major road in the future.

And look on the bright side, if we fail miserably and lose all of our rights to the road, we can become mountain bikers and fight the trail access battle against hikers. Just kidding!!

Ride like a pro and stay safe!
Going after them?tz
Jul 2, 2002 7:55 AM
What if they are very big, very strong, very dumb, and also carry pepper spray? They will kick your sorry butt, and you won't prove anything.
Your tactics won't work. The peaceful, civilized behavior is the only way to go. If you seek "satisfaction", you behave just like the bums that you hate.
Pepper spray is also a good way to get (gun) shot. -nmTig
Jul 2, 2002 1:35 PM
"Share the Road" and "Bikes Belong" is the wrong message.Spoke Wrench
Jul 2, 2002 7:57 AM
I think that programs like "Share the Road" and "Bikes Belong" are counter-productive. They remind motorists that we are a minority group. I think those programs foster the perception that we are demanding increased rights at the expense of everyone else.

I think the message we bicyclists should be promoting is: "Fight Road Rage." Every driver has witnessed road rage and the majority are rightly concerned. It includes our safety needs in with the majority view.

We will never eliminate road rage if we practice road rage ourselves.
We have right to be on the road...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 8:09 AM
and I submit the attitude has gotten worse. There is no moral victory to be had by continually being squeezed out of the right to ride in peace. By "going after them" I mean press the driver on my right to do exactly what I am doing forcefully.
Though I can't possibly see myself pepper-spraying a driver in the mug at a stoplight, I see my buddy do it and know why he can. Hey, I don't want the high road anymore I want my piece (peace) of the road and intend on getting it.
"Fight Road Rage"--oxymoron??AllisonHayes
Jul 2, 2002 8:10 AM
Good slogan though. We don't need to compound the problem by becoming irate ourselves.

I believe we have a serious problem that is getting worse. Too many vehicles, too many distracted drivers, tempers too quick to ignite, too little legal enforcement, too many twinkies both eaten and on the road.

Let's face it, cyclists are in inherent danger whenever there are cyclist and cars are on the same road--we need to be particularly careful these days.
Fight for Peace! nmDougSloan
Jul 3, 2002 5:34 AM
"Share the Road" campaignMaRider
Jul 2, 2002 8:47 AM
I think we need to do both. "Fight Road Rage" is a good slogan, but 80% of dangerous situations I encounter on the roads every day have nothing to do with angry motorists.
In fact I am sure that most of the people who make right turns into me without signalling, open their car doors without looking or pass me closer than I would have liked do so not because I make them angry, but because they don't realize I am there. They don't see me because they don't expect to see me, and they are distracted by thousand other things, from putting makeup on to reading, talking on the cellphone, eating, you name it.
They simply DO NOT TAKE DRIVING SERIOUSLY, and don't realize the danger they present to other drivers and bikers. It's not roadrage, but rather the opposite - road apathy if you will.

I am sure if they read "Fight the roadrage" they will nod agreeing, but will not see it as directed at them.
"Share the road" campaign is more applicable here, because it makes people aware of presense of bikers on the roads.
Just as similar motorcycle campaign (Check twice, bikes are everywhere), which is pretty successful I think (I personally started paying more attention to motorcycles).
That's a great point; I hadn't thought of it quite that way.Leisure
Jul 2, 2002 9:56 PM
I've gone over my views on road rage a few times already, but can't help going over it again. Road rage is at the heart of the issue, because it is increasingly seen as acceptable because the law doesn't do anything about it. It's a big factor I think in the recent movement among insecure egomaniacs away from sports cars and into SUVs. Way too much focus in the legal system on "speed kills". What ever happened to assault by brute force? The police are too busy ticketing highschoolers in riced-out Geo Prizms for going ten over to realize that the real problem is those blasted full-size SUV/truck drivers with their "I'm bigger'n you" attitudes that frequently use their vehicles as weapons to threaten other motorists (and us) with. Road ragers are not consequenced for their actions. If the police would learn how to ticket people for belligerent/threatening driving they'd accomplish a whole lot more and still make their blasted money to boot. Camcorders are awfully cheap these days, I can't imagine them being as expensive as radar guns. And unlike speeding tickets, the general masses would embrace increased enforcement against road ragers.
Anyways, getting back to your point. Putting the focus on road rage, and showing the ways specific drivers buy into "might makes right" tactics which hurt other motorists as well as cyclists will buy us more sympathy than reminding them we are small and easily picked on. Some motorists that would otherwise be vulnerable to engaging in road rage against bikes themselves may even come around and see the fallacy of it. Or maybe some of that is wishful thinking. Hell if I know.
Sounds like a problem in the Houston area...DINOSAUR
Jul 2, 2002 8:06 AM
No problems up here in the Nor Cal foothills, maybe the folks up here are more tolerant. I've never had a bad experience with a motorist. But most of the roads I ride don't have that much traffic. I also have first hand knowledge of a young man having an altercation with an irrate motorist and the driver of the car made a U-turn and ran him over, he is now confined to a wheelchair with no use of his legs. You can't win a battle against a 2 ton moving object...
Could be badPhatMatt
Jul 2, 2002 8:06 AM
Some one buzzes you, you pepper spray them they pull a gun and shoot you. Who wins? I prefer to play by the rules of just let it roll off you back unless they did somthing to really harm you. I.e. ran you into the ditch, through something at you ECT. You never know who you are "playing with" it could be some drugged out Heroin addict on a bad trip. Or just some 16yr old reaching to grab the cd's on the floor and not paying attention.

Citiziens SWAT Team: Shoot first?grzy
Jul 2, 2002 8:27 AM
Yes, the situation sucks, but making it worse isn't the best idea. Nailing people with pepper spray is just going to get you arrested for assault. This is how wars get started.

I agree that far too many people are driving around in huge cars, stressed out trying to ballance a double vanilla latte, talk on the cell phone and yell at their kids (or some combination). However, realize that YOU are part of the problem. Hang up your road bike, buy a MTB and just ride trails for a while. I did that for a couple years and it does wonders for your attitude. Hey, you'll still be around enjoying good health while they're forking over huge sums of money to their analyst trying to understand why their life and kids are so messed up.

Fact of the matter is that everytime you go up against a car you are going to lose. Try using a helmet mirror - it gives you a good idea of what is coming up behind you and a hint to their intentions. If you take away their element of surprise you tend to not react as agressively.

Having said that I will admitt to dousing a couple teenage girls through their open window with some nice sticky Cytomax after they yelled at me. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, but I too was pissed off.
Some mtbers show little respect for trail runners.dzrider
Jul 2, 2002 9:08 AM
I've had two incidents while trail running with nasty mtb riders. One threatened me and I responded by moving aggressively toward him staring blankly into his eyes. He looked at my arms, large in those days and tattooed, and left.

Some people react to being slowed down in a manner very similar to how some people act when their personal space is invaded. It's like asserting a right to go as fast as they want to. I find this understanding to be useful in my dealings with cars and their drivers. I try to stay out of the way and not to slow people down. Still I get yelled at once in a while and do my best to laugh it off.
Jul 2, 2002 9:30 AM
Yep - it goes both ways. It's all part of the "me" generation. My bike, my trail, my buzz.

It is amazing to me why some people choose to get all self righteous and trail run up a known MTB downhill trail. Like what are they expecting? Fortunately in our area there are trails that are only for running/hiking and we have MTB trails so deep in the woods you'd need to be camping to get to them on foot. Then there are the horses.

MTB'ers are the new kids on the block and we shouldn't be surprised that the other users don't exactly welcome our presence with open arms. It really doesn't help when the MTB'ers start acting like Beavis and Butthead.
I ride a bike. And I am an outlaw.tronracer
Jul 2, 2002 9:44 AM
It is increasingly illogical to argue that taking...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 10:57 AM
action will somehow be a detriment to the cyclist after the fact. How can anyone say that a driver will be mad at the next cyclist after he has been rebuked by the first. The driver is the aggressor and ignoring his aggression is not changing that fact. Perhaps a firm stance will make him wary of the next guy. i don't know if ths is the complete answer, but i do know passive non-resistance is not
Examples of this are repeated in society...biknben
Jul 2, 2002 11:33 AM
Ever been pulled over by a rude cop? Now you think ALL cops are donut eatin lards.

Ever see 10 union laborers standing around a ditch while one guy digs? Now unions workers are lazy.

Ever see an "At home mom" drive around all day in her Ford Explosion? Now all SUVs are an excessive waste of resources.

Ever been pepper sprayed by a cyclist...

You're setting a poor example that the rest of us shouldn't have to deal with.
Your argument here makes all cyclists...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 11:53 AM
responsible for the actions of all other cyclists. That is a false assumption that turns logic on its' head. I don't advocate chasing every driver with a can of pepper spray. I do advocate making drivers responsible for thier violent actions with a quickness.
Here's what i do....and it works everytime...MrCrud
Jul 2, 2002 12:09 PM
I just catch up to them and throw my bike on their car, or threaten to do so depending on the situation. Since this is what they we're going to do to me, i might as well help them a bit!

I realize this is not necessarily helping our cause, but a lot of them are just asking for it.

I dont know about many of the other people on this board, but i love driving, almost as much as i love riding. People in general dont understand the kind of forces implicated in a car. It's 3000lbs of steel going 30 miles an hour, simple physics tells anyone this is a mean projectile!!!

The system teaches people the laws, not what to actually do on the road. Aside from racing schools, there are no technical driving courses out there.

Finally, i think people take their cars as a right, instead of a privilege. I think the simple principle of ' dont do to other what you dont want them to do to you ' is pretty much forgotten.

Wow, this turned out to be a longer rant than i thought! I feel better now!

Bottom line, in a battle with autos....MXL02
Jul 2, 2002 12:16 PM
3000lbs beats 20lbs everytime. Avoid them, ignore them, do your best Gandhi. Thank the courteous ones, and thank God that only a few are A$$holes. Antagonizing them will only make it worse. I am in Houston, I don't want it to get worse...
your Gandhi reference serves my point...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 12:26 PM
Gandhi did not teach ignoring or avoiding the enemy. Engage the opposition, peacefully and without malice
I just wanna know how to engage a Ford F350 duelie,MXL02
Jul 2, 2002 12:43 PM
packed with drunk cowboys, peacefully and without malice, without becoming the new Colnago hood ornament?
O.K. since you invoked Gandhi and asked the question...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 1:48 PM
when the Mahatma was asked if his tactics would have been different if the Nazis were the occupying regime in India and not the substantially less violent English. He answered the assumption that the nature of the force was not the problem but the force itself was. If it's a p/u truck full of cowboys or a soccer mom in a Escalade the offense remains the same, hence we respond in kind engaging them to the nature of thier offense.
We have a right to the road and riding away quietly with a footprint on your behind does not press the point.
Ok, ok, the Gandhi comparison supports your conceptsMXL02
Jul 2, 2002 2:14 PM
more than believe in non-violent confrontation, I am into non-violent avoidance. I believe yours to be more idealistic while mine is more practical. I don't want to change driver's attitudes, I just want to stay alive. But, I respect your opinion and your knowledge of the concept. Peace.
Peace, my friend, I only debate in the spirit of the moment...Djudd
Jul 2, 2002 2:22 PM
we are all cyclists here and must make our own choices. I respect yours and your right to have them. Please ride in safety.
Peace, my friend, I only debate in the spirit of the moment...Leisure
Jul 2, 2002 10:27 PM
Trust me, I understand your anger. I thoroughly do. I hope you find a good method of directly confronting these issues when they come up that results in some peaceful and beneficial solution. Nothing pisses me off more than people who abuse power to beat others down. It's mean and cowardly. I try to steer clear of these people (meaning the routes I'd likely see them on, the times most people are out driving) and make a positive impression for everyone else. It's a lot easier to influence the friendly masses than the hostile few, and in the process corral more sympathy and therefore a stronger political base. I am with Doug that we need to all be ambassadors of the sport, and we all do our best even if imperfectly.
If you don't like SUVs, it probably means you can't afford one..nova
Jul 2, 2002 6:48 PM
That is what someone said to me here after I posted a similar anti-internal combustion rant.

Someone else chimed in: "Well said, ...g"

And thus began the biggest flame-fest I've ever been engaged in, anywhere, including heated debates at the office.

Face it, cars are getting bigger. Roads are getting bigger. Washington DC is in fact one of the most congested cities in the US. It has a beltway around it - originally designed to speed travel from point A to B by avoiding the city center. Fact is, it is faster to just embrace the city center, and avoid the beltway in the suburbs. Now plans are underway to widen the Beltway from eight lanes to twelve. TWELVE LANES!

And no, alternate means of transportation are NOT being considered. Who makes these expansion plans? I'm not sure, but it's probably sedentary people who are sick of sitting in their SUVs on the Beltway, and just cannot POSSIBLY imagine getting around under their own power.

The problems with individual motorists are minor battles in the war for resources. We are losing the battles and the war. What is it going to be like in another 20 years, when I'm still riding (in my 50's), and rush hour extends from 5:30 AM to 9 PM? (recent studies have indicated that it will happen) Will club rides even be possible? No. In fact, my local club rides are tougher now in terms of traffic than they were just last year, and it isn't my imagination. (Granted, it is the 2nd or 3rd fastest growing county in the nation, which is a contributing factor...)

OK, I'm rambling.

Bottom line for me is: Don't fight the motorists. (sometimes it can be difficult when their boneheadedness almost costs you your life). Be safe.

But look at the BIG picture. Car culture as it exists today is ultimately BAD. Fight car culture, not cars. And take a long hard look at yourself, and how you contribute to the problem. We all do to some degree.
The LEADER is an SUV, driver armed with a CELL PHONE!!James
Jul 2, 2002 9:13 PM