Vocal Harassment from Drivers

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by franklen, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. franklen

    franklen New Member

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    I'd like to get your experiences on this. It seems at least once a week I get yelled/heckled at while riding my bike on my commute, to the tone of "Get off the road!", or "Get on the sidewalk". And these aren't friendly suggestions, they are mean spirited, bent-browed and loud. The latest is because a car had to wait an extra five seconds to pull out of their parking space while I came by.

    Now I guess I have to get used to some of this, and when I get a chance I yell back to "Read the Laws" or "Its my right", but that probably doesn't go far. I guess I want to put my place in perspective. Do you all get this same treatment often, and is it more or less than I seem to experience in my riding area?
     
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  2. tanyaq

    tanyaq New Member

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    Yeah it happens. Reasonably rarely though. If its happening once a week for you I would guess that a) cyclists are relatively rare where you are, and/or b) drivers are particularly jerks where you are, and/or c) you are riding in such a way to infuriate them.

    Not much you can do about it, unless they stop, in which case you can have a debate :) Best I think is just to smile and wave because they don't expect that.

    I find when it does happen (0 times this summer, possibly 2 or 3 times last summer) it is an aggressive driver yelling because I was in their "way" of making an aggressive move (such as using the parking lane to weave in and out of traffic at high speeds)

    I also find the occasional honk when I find it necessary to take the lane. (such as a reasonably short construction stretch with cones narrowing the lane and only one lane in the direction) It doesn't seem to matter that I'm travelling the speed limit either for that stretch. If there was a bus in front going slower and stopping at a stop in the stretch, the car deals with it. If there is a bicycle in front going at a reasonable rate of speed, these people somehow think its an impediment and honk.
     
  3. TooSore

    TooSore New Member

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    I find that a well contructed and logically coherent riposte is all that is required to convey my meaning to other road users. I tend however to avoid "it's my right" prefering earthier Anglo Saxon words of unambiguous meaning - generally shouted - turing on the parentage of my fellow road user and their genitalia.

    Yours Aye.
     
  4. Babbar

    Babbar New Member

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    May, I really feel for you guys who have to put up with harassment. I have found just the opposite. The overwhelming majority of drivers around Annapolis, Maryland are courteous and more than willing to cede the right of way to a bicycle!

    I have had only one incident in 15 months of riding, and that wasn't really all that bad.

    Most places have bicycle lanes, they are building new hiker/biker paths all the time, and "Share the Road with Bicycles" are in quite a few places.

    Perhaps you should come ride with me!
     
  5. MikeyOz

    MikeyOz New Member

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    Yep,

    all to common for me..... I just kind of ignore it now.. I have heard it so much... it usually just makes me laugh.. unless I am having a very bad day and it gets to me.

    I have had stuff thrown at me physically and verbally... grin and bear it...... and eventually it rolls off your shoulders.. otherwise go and cycle in doors or on bike tracks.

    yeah we should not have to put up with it.. but what are you going to do argue with a motor vehicle ?

    im currently on a personal campaign to strictly obey rules and wave a thank you to any car that waits nicely for me too pass, I figure they are at least waiting for me... if I am nice enough to enough drivers it will maybe rub off on them towards cyclists.

    cheers
    Mikey
     
  6. Babbar

    Babbar New Member

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    I recently started that, too. Today, I was on a narrow, two lane road, coming up on a blind curve. A panel truck - a BIG panel truck - was behind me and didn't want to pass on the curve. As soon as I rounded it and saw the way was clear, I motioned for the truck to go ahead. He did, honked twice and waved his thanks. Commiting random acts of courteousness can have its rewards!
     
  7. HellonWheels

    HellonWheels New Member

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    >>>

    I find when I go out cycling with my 9 yr old daughter, I get NO negatuve comments, and actually some cute ones.

    If you are kidfree, maybe borrow a kid from someone (girls seem to work better, maybe because they're cute--lol), and use the kid to help prevent neg comments.
     
  8. franklen

    franklen New Member

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    Oh I am hoping it rubs off, but not the way you mention. I hope the behavior rubs off on other cyclists. I follow all rules as strictly as I can, but my one good example to 5 or 10 other bad examples I see every day (folks riding the wrong direction/wrong side of the road is the biggest culprit, squeezing alongside cars in a narrow lane to pass them, not signalling, etc, etc) is a plop in the bucket. I'm not being pessimistic, I will keep going and eventually the tide will turn (maybe not in my lifetime) but it is so depressing. And the kids will always give bikers a bad name. Its not like they have to follow any rules when they get a license, or that thier behavior on bikes is at all scrutinized. You see them all the time weaving through the middle of the roads, jumping up and down from sidewalks, etc. Good for them, bad for me.
     
  9. franklen

    franklen New Member

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    Oh I am hoping it rubs off, but not the way you mention. I hope the behavior rubs off on other cyclists. I follow all rules as strictly as I can, but my one good example to 5 or 10 other bad examples I see every day (folks riding the wrong direction/wrong side of the road is the biggest culprit, squeezing alongside cars in a narrow lane to pass them, not signalling, hopping up and down sidewalks frequently, etc, etc) is a plop in the bucket. I'm not being pessimistic, I will keep going and eventually the tide will turn (maybe not in my lifetime) but it is so depressing. And the kids will always give bikers a bad name. Its not like they have to follow any rules when they get a license, or that thier behavior on bikes is at all scrutinized. You see them all the time weaving through the middle of the roads, jumping up and down from sidewalks, etc. Good for them, bad for me. Not the cute little ones of course, though I dont think they can keep up with me on my commute, or want to come to work at the office for the day.
     
  10. Chris_L

    Chris_L New Member

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    Personally I think all you can do is rise above it and not let it get to you. I think the longest time I have *ever* gone without abuse from a driver was 10 days, and than was on a tour in Victoria. Here in Queensland it's a surprise if a day goes by when I don't get it.

    I have something of a personal policy here: if it's verbal abuse I just ignore it and go on with my ride. If it's more (throwing something) I take down a number and go straight to the police. I've long given up the whole process of trying to reason with drivers. There are some people you just won't convince, no matter what you say - and to be honest, I don't care about convincing them.

    They don't have to like leaving me alone, they only have to do it. So if it bothers you, just call the cops and let them deal with it.
     
  11. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    In the Chicago suburban area where I live, commute, walk, and shop I have similar experiences. Cycling is full of a lot of "little things", including the verbal "assaults". As long as they are just verbal, I just go on, without changing my riding.
    If I find a route selection that works best in avoiding verbal "assaults" I try to take it, even if it takes more time and effort.
    I think the idea of going to the police is something that may have merrit. I found that police forces that include bicycle units are more responsive. I only resort to police when I can get the license plate number, vehicle description, offender's description, and they have thrown an object at me.
    The only time the police weren't responsive is when I didn't have a complete description. The particular department also doesn't have any police bicycle patrol or police involvement in school children's bicycle safety program.
    I think community involvement in bicycle safety programs and encouraging police bicycle patrols can help.
    When community events involve police, in a community relations effort, I try to show my support to them and build my relationship with them. If and when I need them in an official capacity, I have a better base for communications.
    David Ornee, Western Springs, IL
     
  12. stevenaleach

    stevenaleach New Member

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    I get the same all the time. The other day I was stopped at a light and a car pulled up next to me. A teenager shouted out the window "Hey! Where's your license plate" followed by "What kind of mileage you get on that thing" and then "Isn't it about time to change your oil?". When the light changed, they floored it and pulled into my lane right in front of me.

    Then there's the drivers that yell "Get off the road" or "Get on the sidewalk *)&()*(".

    I really wish the police would start ticketing/arresting people for riding on the sidewalks. If the 95% of cyclists on the sidewalks would ride on the road where they are supposed to be, drivers would learn to accept it. If we could get most cyclists to start obeying the traffic rules and riding responsibly, we would all get a LOT more respect.
     
  13. Chris_L

    Chris_L New Member

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    I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this at all. As I related in another thread, what about the large number of drivers around here who frequently run red lights and the like. Does anyone use that as a justification to shout abuse at drivers generally? I know for a fact that around here at least, it's the law abiding acts (such as stopping at marked pedestrian crossings) that seem to pre-empt most of the abuse.

    The point is, you have no way of knowing if a driver's anger was actually caused by a cyclist doing something to upset them. About the only hope any of us have of finding out is to ask them, and even then it's no guarantee. Even if that is the cause (which I seriously doubt), it's not the responsibility of drivers to "police" cyclists. That job belongs to the police themselves.

    I really think the whole "drivers abuse cyclists because cyclists break road rules" is just another cop-out to put the blame on the victim. Isn't harassing or assaulting someone also a breach of the law? I really think that cycling advocates should forget about trying to come up with ways to explain or rationalise driver aggression and look at it for what it really is.
     
  14. less'go

    less'go New Member

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    Just read this post, you're a hoot, toosore, you have a way with words. Earthier anglo Saxon words of unambiguous meaning... A regular poet, I'd say!

    S
     
  15. stevenaleach

    stevenaleach New Member

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    The basic difference is that the "large number" of drivers to which you refer are the minority. The cyclists who are breaking traffic laws are the vast majority.

    A bicycle is a vehicle. It is to be operated by the same rules that govern all other traffic. The sidewalk is for pedestrians not for vehicles. A red light means "STOP" not "JUMP ON THE THE SIDEWALK AND RIDE RIGHT ON THROUGH". I have never seen another cyclist stopped at a traffic light. And of course you're right, I get rude comments BECAUSE I am stopped at the light. But if I wasn't the only one that does it, this would not be the case.

    Vehicles in the United States use the right hand side of the road, not whichever damn side they choose. I see several bikes riding on the left hand side every day.. I have never seen a car doing that. Likewise, I have never seen a motorcycle being driven on the sidewalk although they would fit just as easily as a bicycle. I see probably 50 or more (probably over 100 if I were to actually do a count) bikes on the sidewalk for every one that I see on the street. I have never seen a car going down the street with a passenger on the hood. I see several bikes a day with two or three kids on them.

    And again, you are right. There are really bad drivers out there but we don't shout abuse at every driver we see. Why? Because the really bad drivers are in the minority. Why are cyclists in general the target of abuse? Because most completely disgregard traffic rules and act like they are completely unaware that they are doing anything wrong.

    And remember: Its not just the majority of cyclists that think that they are supposed to be on the sidewalk instead of the road. Most drivers actually think that cyclists are SUPPOSED to stay off the road... and why wouldn't they think that? 99% of the bikes they see are on the sidewalk.

    Tired of the abuse you get while riding on the road? If you weren't in a tiny minority then drivers would be used to it and you would get much more respect. Maybe WE need to start yelling at the sidewalk warriers as we pass.
     
  16. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    Whew, you should move. It's not the case here. Though something tells me you're already convinced so the facts wouldn't persuade you otherwise.
     
  17. Chris_L

    Chris_L New Member

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    Actually, around here, the proportion is about the same for both groups. However, the point is moot. The right to harrass or insult someone does not arise because someone else pissed you off - regardless of whether that someone else is in the same group as the person you are yelling at now or not.

    No, they would just shout at the other guy who was stopped at the red light.

    Perhaps you should spend some time here. You'd see plenty of cars driven on the footpath, and at much greater speed than bicycles. However, this doesn't happen with the same frequency - granted. However, I believe there are two reasons for this:

    1. Generally cars simply do not fit on the footpath - although I've seen plenty of drivers try to disprove that one.

    2. Drivers generally don't have to put up with the "bikes as toys" mentality the way cyclists do - nor do they get shouted at everyday to "get off the f**kin' road". Nor, for that matter, do they get bombarded with media "editorials" on the "dangers of cycling".

    Let's not underestimate the value of a bit of education here either. I don't know about your part of the world, but around here about the only consistent educational message given to cyclists is "wear your helmet". Now, I value the protection my helmet offers me, but there is certainly a lot more to cycling than that.

    However, I do note that a number of "bicycle safety officers" (read: fat guy who has never ridden so much as around the block but has a vested interest) actually instruct many cyclists to both ride against the flow of traffic and use the footpath/sidewalk as frequently as possible. Perhaps if these people actually offered instruction in proper vehicular cycling, this would not be a problem.

    Again, no more so than drivers (see my point above). Although my view on this may be skewed by the fact that, because I stopped reading the propoganda in the media years ago, I only have my own observations to rely upon, rather than a few complaints on the letters page.

    Or maybe it's because so few of them actually realise that bicycles are vehicles. After all, there is basically nothing on sharing the road with cyclists or pedestrians in the standard driving test, and if they are the same people who were "educated" by the safety officers I mentioned above, they are probably the same people who ride on the footpath, and the same people who believe that bikes don't belong on "their" roads.

    To be honest I no longer care either way. If they want to waste time and effort shouting gibberish at me (90% of which I don't understand anyway), it's their problem - not mine. If they start throwing things I'll just call the cops and let them sort it out for me.

    I ride the same route to work everyday. The regular drivers on that route should be used to me by now. If they aren't - it isn't my problem.

    Again, it's not my job. I am not a police officer, nor am I a "bicycle safety officer". And again, you haven't explained to me how you actually know that these people are actually the cause of driver abuse, regardless of why you think it is. The only way you'll ascertain that is by asking drivers - and then you're unlikely to get the real answer. How many racists have ever owned up to the true reasons for their prejudices?

    I believe exactly the same forces are at work here. I know for a fact that there will be a number of drivers who shout abuse at me regardless of what I do. I deal with it. If it gets real nasty, I just call the cops. Works for me.
     
  18. TooSore

    TooSore New Member

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    Less'go,

    Thank you Sir, Allez les Bleue etc.

    Yours Aye
     
  19. Echinacea

    Echinacea New Member

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    wow....be thankful you guys only got yelled at. Here in Texas its not very bicycle friendly. I was riding once and a pickup with a couple rednecks drove by real fast and i felt the whoose of air as a quart sized beer bottle flew over my head. Imagine what that would do to your skull going 50 mph? Here in Fort Worth there is at least one good trail but when i lived in the country i could NEVER ride out there because the people were so dangerous.
     
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