Traffic confrontation escalated, what would you have done?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by s2cuts, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    This is the story of my recent traffic confrontation. I would like to hear some people's opinions as to what they might have done, so that I may gauge whether I'm at the extreme end of the spectrum or not. BTW, I make no apologies for my actions.

    My riding partner and I were riding home after about 50km of fast road riding. We were taking main roads home, but trying to stay off to the right where possible. If the lane is too narrow to safely fit one car and one bike, we take up the whole lane. When the incident occurred, we were riding in single file down the middle of a narrow lane going about 30-35 km/h. There was another lane going in the same direction for cars to get around if they needed to.

    Many times while riding, cars have buzzed by me too closely, honked at me, shouted profanity at me, then driven off never to be seen again. On this particular occasion, a car accelerated passed my buddy and I. It came close enough that I thought it clipped my buddy in front of me with its mirror. I rode up to my friend, and he confirmed that he hadn't been clipped, but that the car came ridiculously close to him. I was still mad. I could see that the driver needed to stop at the lights not 50 meters away from us (what was the point of his maneuver), so I came up on the drivers side ready to give him a piece of my mind. I was greeted with a stream of profanity explaining how I wasn't supposed to be in the middle of the lane. That made me go from mad to red. I gathered a nice horker and spit it into his open window as I floated slowly by. I'm not sure if the light turned green or not, but he punched it and turned into me hitting me at about mid bike and stopping short of knocking me over (I had to lean over onto his car to not be knocked onto the ground).


    He continued driving through the light and down the road at a slow pace. I guess he thought he might pull over and TCB. We followed him as he drove to the next intersection and turned. We continued to follow him as he continued to drive slowly to the next intersection where he finally had to stop. I rode up to his closed window and gave him a piece of my mind (lot's of profanity). He was no longer a hero. He claimed to be calling the cops, and that I should pull over and wait. I did so. Out of curiosity, I walked over to where he hit me and could see the scrape where my boot made contact with his front fender. I went up to his window, and laughing at him telling him “you stupid f$%&, you're going to prison”. I explained that the material evidence was on his vehicle, to which he made two rebuttals in quick concession. The first was, “you cut me off”, and the second was “my word against yours”. I laughed at him and went over to wait by my bike. After about 20 seconds he started driving away... never to be seen again.




    I honestly wish this never happened, and I have to accept some responsibility for the escalation. But these kinds of people are a menace and dangerous to cyclists. Why should I have to cower from these morons? I refuse to. I would have much rather pulled him from his car, so give me credit for having some restraint. I would like to know how others would handle this type of situation. Maybe someone can give me some good advice for the next time something like this happens.
     
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  2. simpsonc

    simpsonc New Member

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    Mmmm, I don't know too many cyclists who have spent a decent amount of time on the roads that haven't had a few nasty incidents.

    I'm not sure, but from all reports I've had, drivers in the USA (I assume this is where you are) have a similar attitude to cyclists as they do here in Australia. That is, they don't tolerate you being in their way whatsoever. I can't say what a pleasure it was cycling in Germany and France recently, primarily because of the level of respect a cyclist is afforded is many times higher than here.

    How would I have handled your situation? That depends on the mood I was in I guess. After so many years of this, I now will only verbally respond at most - certainly nothing physical. As a younger guy, I admit to having chased cars to the next red light and getting involved in screaming matches. It never leaves you feeling good.

    Even a verbal response (no matter what situation in life) can land you in hospital, there are a lot of crazies out there. Add road rage, and the odds escalate against you. But if the blood is up, you are riding hard and harnessing your aggression in the first place, it can be hard to control yourself when something happens.

    Bottom line is that to respond aggressively is dangerous, so I try to avoid this. I want to get home safely so I can ride again!
     
  3. Powerful Pete

    Powerful Pete New Member

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    I would have tried to stay calm. Usually waving really bothers drivers/catches them unprepared.
     
  4. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    Where I live slower moving traffic (which means bicycles) are required to keep to the side of the road, unless it isn't safe to do so. In this case, it sounds like you were taking up the entire lane for no good reason. This is an annoyance to some drivers, even if there is plenty of room to go around.

    There is no excuse for a driver buzzing you like that, but you certainly shouldn't have followed that up by spitting on him. By doing that you lost whatever high moral ground you had. I'm also guessing he was a little guy, else you wouldn't have done that because he then would have beat the crap out of you.

    He shouldn't have hit you with his car, but you provoked him and that's what happens in the heat of the moment. You're lucky he didn't pull out his gun when you followed him for a second round.

    I've been in similar situations over the years, and acting like this doesn't do anything. If you can't just ignore it (which I agree is sometimes impossible to do), I've now decided it's best to be polite and point out to the car driver that he / she came very close and maybe next time he / she could leave a little more room. They might actually listen if you aren't yelling at them.

    Last year, some guy came real close to me with his pickup truck, and then hit me with the thing he was towing that was wider than he was. Lucky for me, I managed to avoid going down and I eventually caught up to him at a traffic light. After I blew off some steam for almost killing me, he was very apologetic and quite shaken up by the whole thing. The point of this is...I don't think there is anyone out there who really wants to kill you with their car.
     
  5. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    With all due respect, you missed the point. The driver accelerated passed, and came within 1 or 2 inches away from us to make his point. In making his aggressive point, he put my friend's life and my life at risk. His intent was obvious when he did it, and became even more clear when he told me to go F*** myself after I caught up to him. Hence the spitting.

    I'm not sure you know much about traffic law, but as a vehicle on the road I am must obey all traffic laws and in return have all the same rights as any other vehicle. Namely, other drivers may not share my lane. For your own safety, I suggest you brush up on basic traffic rules. There is nothing wrong with being visible and asserting your right to ride on the road safely. If you keep riding in the gutter, you may become a casualty of your own politeness.
     
  6. tfstrum

    tfstrum New Member

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    The guy probably knows the rules, but it sounds like he's saying that as bicyclists we have to be smarter because a car usually wins. I've had idiots come close when I'm hugging the side of road and the middle finger flys quick.

    I also drive on the same road where I ride and there's some dumb people out there on bikes. Riding double on a narrow busy road is stupid and I see people on bicycles do it all of the time. Try slowing down to remind people on bikes to be smart by riding single file and you'll get profanity and the finger in a hurry regardless of you have their best interest in mind. Be aware and error on the safe side.
     
  7. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    Maybe my original post wasn't clear. We're now getting into a different debate entirely. The way I ride busy roads when I have to, is to be visible, predictable, and if a car and bike can not safely co-habitate in one lane I take the choice away from the driver by using the whole lane. After all, it's my life, and I plan on hanging on to it regardless of how inconvenient the extra 15 seconds is to a driver's total trip time. The only people who buzz in this instance are malicious assholes who deserve what they have coming. IMHO, of course.

    My original point or question was, after a driver does something that's tantamount to trying to kill you, what would you do? If you don't believe that that was the case in my situation, imagine it was.
     
  8. tfstrum

    tfstrum New Member

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    I got what you're saying. You'll piss people to save your life. What everyone else is saying is that it may not be the smartest philosophy. Boxing lessons should come in handy. :cool:
     
  9. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    I also hear what you're saying, but we'll just have to agree to disagree. Even though I'm an ex-wrestler, weighing over 200lb's, and am as fit as I ever was, I'm not a bully, I only did what I did because someone had such an incredible disregard for my life. The funny thing was he had an older female passenger in the back seat, I presume his mother, and at one point I actually turned to her and apologized for her having to hear this. lol, she didn't seem too impressed with my apology. Oh well, it certainly was sincere.
     
  10. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Not sure where you are but the laws of my state are fairly specific. A cyclist should ride as far to the right as possible except when turning left or going the speed limit. No other exceptions.
    A motorized vehicle shall pass in a manner allowing a safe passing distance with a minimun of 3 feet clearance.
    Ignorance of these laws is rampant, but most drivers are very good about being reasonable.
    Now, as far as the confrontation I won't say I haven't had such situations where I let the redneck in me take over, but also realize the car driver may have a gun under the seat.
    You can be right or be alive in a given situation. I would rather be right all the time but will take alive and be wrong if given the choice.
    Some people just suck and we gotta live with it. Fact!
     
  11. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FWIW. The driver may have been a jerk; but, you actually committed ASSAULT on the driver, first, when you spit into his window ...
     
  12. dgregory57

    dgregory57 New Member

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    I agree that just watching from a distance is not acceptable, but you lowered the bar by spitting... That is not likely to have any positive impact on the driver or anyone else.

    If I had been in your position, I don't know what I would have done, but I have never spat on anyone, so I doubt if that would have been my response... not that my response would have been any more acceptable.

    However, in a cool moment behind a keyboard rather than behind a car that buzzed me, I would suggest taking note of as much information as possible, and notifying the authorities of the assault... Which you also should have done based on the hit & run. You may have opened yourself to an assault charge based on the spitting that the driver would have surely reported, but that is no excuse for the driver to drive his car into you.

    I am glad that you and your buddie got through everything OK, and that the idiot has some damage to his car to remember you by...
     
  13. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    s2cuts...

    On the contrary, it is you who needs to brush up on the traffic laws. I am well aware of the laws pertinent to the area where I live, and our law requires slower moving traffic to keep to the right of the lane at all times unless it isn't safe to do so. This doesn't mean riding in the gutter, it means riding about a metre from the curb such that you don't have to weave in and out.

    And it looks like I was right. You are way bigger than the guy in the car so you felt free to spit on him without fear of retribution. Like I said before, you are lucky he didn't pull out his gun.

    Your behaviour and subsequent refusal to accept any responsibility for your disgraceful behaviour make you an idiot. It's cyclists with your attitude that are probably responsible for causing much of the antagonism with car drivers, and it's unfortunate that I have to share the road with drivers after they have come across people like you.
     
  14. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    So by your own admission, I was clearly in the right. One meter from the curb would put me about in the middle of that narrow lane. Now if you would have read my original post, you'd have probably been able to see that I clearly stated I pull to the side when it's safe to do so (99% of my street riding). I clearly describe the lane as narrow and unsafe to be shared by both car and bicycle. What you think you know about traffic law seems to be skewed to the automobile perspective. I was well within my rights.

    Your second assertion that I was larger than him, well, I don't know how you could have possibly figured that out not knowing how big he was. From what I could see he was young, heavy set, I would have put him at over 200lbs.

    As to the rest of your assertion that I'm an idiot for refusing to accept any responsibility, bla bla bla... Here's a quote from my original post.
    I'm not sure what your problem is. Maybe you just didn't pay attention in school, but you do a disservice to the conversation when you fail to read the posts thoroughly, and then make baseless assertions. You seem very biased in favor of the driver, in my opinion. Biased to the point where you're probably going to rebut this post as well.
     
  15. bigpedaler

    bigpedaler New Member

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    Fact -- true.

    The state you live in sucks, too, because all the REASONABLE states say "practicable" instead of "possible", a GALAXY of difference. Some say 3 feet -- like mine -- others say as little as 2 or as much as 6.

    Drivers reasonable? Wow. In a perfect world, maybe. I haven't met a reasonable driver in a biking near-miss since the '70's. And any of them that have a gun under the seat better hope they're far enough away that i can't reach them before they can point it.

    The epigram for this philosophy is "better to be a live chicken than a dead duck" -- just FYI, and my fun.
     
  16. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    My mistake as the law does read practical, not possible, and a crazed driver will not point. They will aim shoot and drive off.
    I actually helped write the cycling passing law in my state, but I don't always proof read my internet posts for accurate content.
     
  17. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    s2cuts...

    Here is a quote from your original post:

    "BTW, I make no apologies for my actions."

    Perhaps it is you who should read what you wrote.

    In any event, there is no excuse for spitting on someone. Children do that, but they grow out of it by about 7 or 8 years old.
     
  18. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    LOL, is that the best you can come up with? Yes, you're right, I didn't and I don't apologize, but I did say I accepted some responsibility, which is what you accused me of not doing. What about the rest of your BS assertions??

    Yojimbo, you've made about 500 posts on this forum, and if your contribution here in any way represents the rest of your posts, I would say to you... stop posting dude! The best you can come up with is ad hominem attacks when you can't properly argue your position. Your a sad sad man.
     
  19. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    Well, you've got a whopping 7 posts, and the only thing you've been able to do is recount a story in which your actions might have encouraged someone to hate cyclists even more....oh, and you've managed to get in people's faces here.

    Other than allowing you to puff up your chest and feel all proud as a fit ex-wrestler, your response to the driver did absolutely nothing to help cyclists or yourself. In fact, just about every school of rational thought says that what you did was absolutely stupid. Road rage? Well, it's often precipitated by things like your actions. Like any war, it doesn't really matter who started it and who was right or wrong in the beginning. All that matters is that a couple of idiots refused to do the smart thing, the rational thing. Two idiots didn't have the spine to show a little character.

    Congratulations, fuckwad.

    BTW, take your own advice, and stop posting.
     
  20. s2cuts

    s2cuts New Member

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    In life, shit happens. When, as in my situation, someone purposely puts your life at risk, you have a choice to make. Stand up for yourself, or take in the ass. Some of you have made your position entirely too clear.

    I wish some of you cowards would have the balls to stand up to drivers, with the same vigor you've rebutted me. But alas, a keyboard is safe. I think much of the backlash stems from a fundamental fear of drivers, and the possibility of having to confront them.

    How dare I stand up for myself. How dare I spit at a person who could have easily ran me off the road, killed me, and still made it home in time to catch the end of the game. Your outrage at my actions is ridiculous.

    Edit: Re-read the title of this thread. Now, resist your temptation to call me an "idiot" or "fuckwad", and contribute to the conversation.
     
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