Get even or...? Angry drivers make a cyclist's life hell

The Age in Melbourne has an article today which I think many of us as commuter or weekend roadies can relate to. The writers story is something close to me. Similar age, family, want to ride to keep fit and I enjoy it so why should I be subject to abuse, threats and have my life endangered? So what to do?

Last weekend riding up Basket Range a motorcyclist came up so fast and so close to me it was for the split second very threatening. What about cars who swerve close to you even though you are in the bike lane then burn off? Report them, stay calm and ignore them? or in the case of this writer chase them down and abuse them back but with ongoing consequences?

 

 Angry drivers make a cyclist's life hell - by Craig Fry.

So last weekend was the tipping point for me. I have a wife and three young children, a mortgage and a job I need. I'm tired of the abuse and aggression from some drivers who feel justified simply because I'm cycling on the road. I gave chase this time because I wanted to take a stand.

Read the full article.

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It can be tempting for a cyclist to react, after yet another driver endangers their life, sometimes deliberately. However, the outcome can be worse.

Reporting a negligent driver is not fully satisfying because I wonder if police act on it. I have been injured by 3 negligent drivers and not one was fined. I report less than 1% of incidents: 4 yesterday (including ignoring red traffic lights) so it would keep me busy and for what?

The most effective (and time consuming) approach may be to always ride with a camera rolling. So one has evidence and can query police as to action taken.

Riding along Gorge road, I quite often experience what you have described Angus......motor bikes flying past at 80-100km/h, at a distance of what sometimes seems to be less than 1 metre. This can be an extremely frightening experience.

I come across dangerous driving/anti-cycling behaviour on the majority of my rides. Fortunately, only a small portion of it requires evasive action on my part. Most of the time, I am able to keep my cool and just shake my head at the negative behaviour of motorists. This achieves nothing, although it does help me stay calm and allow whatever just happened to roll off my back. 

The unfortuante part is that I have lost my cool a couple of times, screaming out abuse, even tapping on a few windows at traffic lights on occasion. This achieves even less. If anything, it can amplify the negative attitude that certain drivers have towards cyclists.

Sad to say, I don't think there is a magic bullet solution to this issue. Drivers with a negative view towards cyclists are always going to have a negative view towards cyclists. Maybe keeping your cool and acknowledging any positive driver habits that are thrown your way will help to spread the message of sharing the road.

Back in december I had a very close call crosing the king street bridge in Glenelg, a lady driving along adelphi terrace failed to give way to traffic crossing the bridge and I went within inches of smearing myself along the side of her car.  Only locking up my brakes and skidding past her rear bumper saved me.  As she continued on down adelhi I took a few seconds to calm down, then when that didnt work I took off after her. 

Thankfully she had sped up and gotten away from me as I was so angry that I dont know what I would have said or done if I had caught her.  Basically she did me a favour by driving off as my blowing up would have done no one any favours.  I dont see any need to chase down cars that endanger us as it either gives them an excuse to portray us as angry/crazy cyclists, or to finish the job they started by swerving at us.  Take their number if it was serious and hope the cops do their job, otherwise it just gonna be a waste of effort

Today I got abused by a right turning driver simply because the driver had to wait a few seconds for me. The more I think about it, the more I believe that the drivers who seem to least respect a cyclists right to be on the road, or to ride safely, are those that are least likely to have ever riden a bike or at least in their adult life. Maybe all learner drivers should be required to spend some time riding a bike on roads (as part of their log book system). I think after 5 hours of being on the road they would gain a healthy respect for the difficulties faced by your average commuter cyclist, and they will be less likely to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. The only draw-back is that quite a few will get hurt, because lets face it, experience means a lot between being upright or being bonnet fodder.
Some drivers are just jerks, I was at a bike shop once and a driver went by yelling abuse at cyclists. When I spoke to a shop attendant they said this happens almost everyday yelling abuse at the shop. What can you do about mental midgets like them.
Got plenty of mates Jim but thanks for the thought.
Richard G, about 11 years ago the government invited public submissions on driver licensing. One of the points I suggested was that people log riding on bicycles, before advancing to Ls in a car. After all, one goes through a procession of a car licence up to truck of bus. Not adopted, of course.
I agree Robert it is tempting to retaliate but there is no point in starting a war, especially one we can't win.
Perhaps even a fake security camera mounted on the bars would do the trick, like so many others have said, they take off like scalded cats when phones or cameras are sighted.

A couple of decades ago when I used to ride through the city, I used to often catch up to motorists and abuse them through their window.  It seemed to always catch them by surprise - they had clearly never considered that I might catch up to them!

 

I wouldn't recommend this approach.  I don't think you're likely to change their behaviour in any positive way - in fact probably the opposite.  You might also be very unlucky and get some geniune 'nutter', or worse still a violent and armed 'nutter'.

 

If someone has been really dangerous I guess you can take a rego number and description and report them.  From what we read on this site it doesn't seem to do much though...

 

Perhaps if you do catch up, try to have a 'reasoned discussion' through the window?  Although that's hard if they've just thrown a half-full McDonalds cup at you, or swerved into the bike lane to give you 'scare'!

 

Simon

That's a horrible story. It's sad that there are so many awful people out there that this seems to be a common situation.

I wouldn't say they make my whole life hell.  Non-angry drivers , road designers & my job contribute some too.

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