Mr Angry behind the wheel!

jazkilmister
jazkilmister Posts: 3
edited May 2009 in The bottom bracket
I'll try to keep this sorry tale brief:

When cycling a long straight section of my usual evening training ride (rural Hampshire), a motorist came past me from behind a honked his horn just as he was about to pass me.

Naturally this scared the bejesus out of me for a moment, which soon gave way to bafflement – I was on a long straight empty B road, no road markings but wide enough for two cars, which hardly sees any traffic, out in the boonies. I was positioned well over to the side and going in a straight line on the drops. So what induced this driver to honk?

This led me to do something stupid – I sat up, took my hands off the bars and gave the "WTF" gesture to the retreating car, as in, both hands palms upward, questioning shrug of shoulders. I could see his brake lights flashing as he tried to decide whether to stop, then his arm outstretched from the window. Too far away to say for sure, but I imagined it was a one fingered salute.

The straightaway ends in a corner, and the car disappeared from view. I continued to try and work out why I was honk-worthy, perhaps just another motorist who finds men in lycra objectionable (fair enough!).

Next moment the same car hove into view coming back towards me, it lurched across the road towards me as it approached at speed, the driver, mid thirties, ruddy complexion, head and shoulders out of the driver side window, one hand on the wheel, yelling unintelligibly as he sped past, before jamming on the brakes.

I was tempted to stop – but to do what? I could see that he had stopped and was preparing to turn around. Stand and fight (verbally or otherwise) or leg it?

I legged it! And took a handy concealed side lane while he was turning round, he didn't notice and continued on. No harm done, but a narrow escape.

Now, I appreciate that my gesture could have been interpreted as belligerence, fine – but sometimes – you just have to ask the question! The rest of my ride was spent mulling over what might have happened. I could have stopped to remonstrate with the driver, but this could have led to unpleasantness or even a fight, and since I've successfully avoided any fighting since the playground I wasn't keen on that option, it's also ridiculous, plus I had the disadvantage of wearing cleats and having an expensive bike to worry about.

So what should you do? Are angry drivers just a fact of cycling? Should I be resigned to the likelihood that sooner or later I'm going to have to deal with one?

I feel if I hadn't been lucky enough to escape, there would have been some sort of confrontation.

An American friend carries mace – which has always made me chuckle – now it doesn't seem so funny.
Anyone have any sage words to offer?
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Comments

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Driver cut me up on a single track lane once, trees on one side and a deep ditch running along the other. He came straight at me, forced me into the trees and then stopped about 20 yards away. As he got out I picked up a good sized stone and threw it as hard as I could, which scarily hit him in the centre of his chest and knocked him to the ground. I got away with it 'cos he couldn't turn his car round and I was off pedalling like the clappers.

    This was all his fault due to his aggression, stupidity and ignorance. What I did, I now know was reckless but the stakes are stacked in a cars favour over a cyclist.
    You will have to deal with angry drivers all the time you cycle, just have to bite your tongue/gestures if you don't want a confrontation, but if it comes to confrontation you will have to stand your ground.

    Hope you have some better luck in the future.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    The best thing to do is take the reg and carry on then report matters to the police if it warrants it (please, no 'the cops do nothing/aren't interested lah blah blah thread hijacks) although sometimes it's very difficult to ignore.

    Jaz, you probably did exactly the same as I would have (and actually have) done i.e. the WTF? gesture.

    There have been times where people have been trying to pass me very closely in town having misjudged an overtake and end up alongside me within a couple of inches. . I very kindly make more space by folding in their wing mirror if it's safe to do so...
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    I have to say after many 'incidents' that I have given up making gestures(apart from shaking my head in disbelief) If I did it every time I wouldn't be able to keep control of the bike. I have just accepted the fact that in this country we will always be treated as second class citizens and worse, targets for car drivers. Just think about what happened on this road, you make a gesture the driver gets the hump and comes back for you, only this time he decides to run you off the road, you're dead in a ditch and he gets away scot free as the're no witnesses!
    Unlikely scenario? unfortunatly not I was threatened by a van driver who said he had seen me out in the countryside and would wait to get me when no one was around. I reported it to the police but when they checked the reg it turned out to be fake!
  • robmanic1
    robmanic1 Posts: 2,150
    NapoleonD wrote:

    Jaz, you probably did exactly the same as I would have (and actually have) done i.e. the WTF? gesture.

    Exactly the same thing happened to me on Saturday, out in rural Lincolnshire, single lane road passing through a country park, no traffic at all, hear a vehicle approaching from behind, then sensed it's presence very close to my back wheel and revving the engine aggressively. I had nowhere to go apart from the muddy verge so I thought feck him and carried on as close to the verge as poss. He then "parped" me and drove past closely and fairly rapid, I was fully expecting a suped-up Cleo full of chavs but it was just one guy in a beat-up old Rover. I resisted giving the bird and did the "palms-up" WTF gesture. And, like the OP, spent the rest of the ride trying to figure out what his problem was, I was glad I didn't respond aggressively and gave him the benefit of the doubt by supposing he just used his horn to warn me of his presence, alternatively he may have just been a complete c0ck!
    Pictures are better than words because some words are big and hard to understand.

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  • cee
    cee Posts: 4,553
    i think angry people are just a fact...

    i don't think its because you are on a bike...just that this person was a total fool.

    I think that road rage incidents are more common between car drivers...but I know what you mean about being exposed on the bike....even if you do stand and fight (as you say, a bit silly really), you have to worry about slipping on your backside because of your cleats or your bike getting damaged....

    nasty scenario all round. as above..try to get the reg and report it.
    Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I believe in the future of the human race.

    H.G. Wells.
  • Porgy
    Porgy Posts: 4,525
    At least a couple of times I've reported drivers for dangerous behaviour I've nearly ended up being arrested myself. This is because the truly terrible and dangerous drivers are quite used to lying throught their teeth and merely make a counter allegation. I have been accused of kicking vehicles, and obstructing the highway, and in one case was assaulted by the officer.

    I now ablsultely will not report anything to the police. I don't need it.
  • STEFANOS4784
    STEFANOS4784 Posts: 4,109
    So what should you do? Are angry drivers just a fact of cycling?

    Yes, unfortunately, either learn to ignore them, report them to the police or carry a chain lock to run at the cv*t with if they stop (not really advisable but would be so damn satisfying)

    I'd advise to try and ignore him, if he gets that angry at so little he must have a pretty sh1tty and miserable life and he probably beats his family :evil:
  • will3
    will3 Posts: 2,173
    I'll try to keep this sorry tale brief:
    Snip

    Anyone have any sage words to offer?


    Sounds like he might have been under the influence of something to me.
  • downfader
    downfader Posts: 3,686
    Porgy wrote:
    At least a couple of times I've reported drivers for dangerous behaviour I've nearly ended up being arrested myself. This is because the truly terrible and dangerous drivers are quite used to lying throught their teeth and merely make a counter allegation. I have been accused of kicking vehicles, and obstructing the highway, and in one case was assaulted by the officer.

    I now ablsultely will not report anything to the police. I don't need it.

    I'd like to see the CPS deal with that. If that happened to me I'd say "take it to court then" as I know they'd get no where. Its a bluff by the driver and I have a good rep with people to back up my character. Screw them, let the driver try. :?
    I'll try to keep this sorry tale brief...

    I have had similar drivers in the past. Have out my hand up to say "why" and they take that as a reason to swear, have a hissy-fit or threaten. When I ride I carry a very heavy chain, if I ever felt my safety was in danger of violence I would have no qualms about making its presence known to the driver and that I would be prepared to use it.

    There again, most back off when they realise that I'm a big lad (14 stone - not too chubby with it either :wink: )
  • Porgy
    Porgy Posts: 4,525
    I used to get angry about it - now my approach is to try to ignore it, though i realise that isn;t always going to work.

    One approach that did work when i was cycling through Pimlico last year and I had a black cab trying to run me off the road was to brandish my D lock abnd threaten damage to the vehicle.

    The problem is you don;t know what sort of nut you're dealing with - I've been chased onto pavements, even onto people's private drives. Running away usually works - but you need something in reserve in case it looks like they're going to catch up with you.

    Mace sounds like a really good idea. That or self defence classes maybe.
  • Le Commentateur
    Le Commentateur Posts: 4,099
    These unhappy men in cars are like bar-room bullies looking for a fight. If you react you are simply giving them what they want -- an excuse to up the ante. Ignore them like you would annoying children who taunt you about your back wheel going round.
  • Porgy
    Porgy Posts: 4,525
    downfader wrote:
    I'd like to see the CPS deal with that. If that happened to me I'd say "take it to court then" as I know they'd get no where. Its a bluff by the driver and I have a good rep with people to back up my character. Screw them, let the driver try. :?

    It always used to happen going into work and I'm not sure that phoning my boss to say "sorry I'm late but I have been arrested for criminal damage to a vehicle" would go down very well. Anyway the last thing I want is to be arrested, fingerprinted, DNA'd etc. and held for how ever many hours they think they can get away with.

    I swear that the police know the driver is lying and they only go along with it cos the last thing they want to do is take action - all the paper work etc.

    so - as an intimidatory action it works, I'm afraid....even if I had all day free.
  • downfader
    downfader Posts: 3,686
    Porgy wrote:
    downfader wrote:
    I'd like to see the CPS deal with that. If that happened to me I'd say "take it to court then" as I know they'd get no where. Its a bluff by the driver and I have a good rep with people to back up my character. Screw them, let the driver try. :?

    It always used to happen going into work and I'm not sure that phoning my boss to say "sorry I'm late but I have been arrested for criminal damage to a vehicle" would go down very well. Anyway the last thing I want is to be arrested, fingerprinted, DNA'd etc. and held for how ever many hours they think they can get away with.

    I swear that the police know the driver is lying and they only go along with it cos the last thing they want to do is take action - all the paper work etc.

    so - as an intimidatory action it works, I'm afraid....even if I had all day free.

    If the driver dropped the charges the Police still have to fill out forms iirc, so its no skin off their nose in that respect.
  • Not to play devil's advocate or anything, but when I was cycling in Central America the majority of the overtaking drivers beeped theirs horns in order to alert you to their presence and that they were about to overtake you.

    I have to admit as this is not the norm in the UK it was very disconcerting to begin with, but after a while felt that as cyclsits we were actually given some respect. I am just being hopeful that it isn't always the case that the drivers think you are in their way.

    If the drivers are up your @rse and revving their engines, beeping their horns is clearly not a kindly, informative gesture, however... let alone turning round to have another go at you...
  • boneyjoe
    boneyjoe Posts: 369
    Sounds like you had a lucky escape. I made a similar gesture to someone at a roundabout once, and they cut me off, came barrelling out the car, and grabbed me around the neck before I could even get off the bike to defend myself. Only my wife's yelling, and the presence of a bus and other motorists saved me from a total pasting. Had huge finger-mark bruses around my neck for a couple of weeks to boot. This was early on a Saturday in Greewich, near the O2. Great start to our London-Canterbury ride!
    Scott Scale 20 (for xc racing)
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  • zedders
    zedders Posts: 509
    true story - me and a couple of mates were merrierly riding along a country lane in Sunny Leics when a car approached from behind. He had to brake because there was bind bend approaching. He was not happy and honked his horn! My mate was not happy either and as he past (being so close) he slapped the side window with his hand as the car overtook!
    What happened next was not to be expected. 150 yrds up he pulled a 180 (he held it well to be fair) come straight back towards us and stopped blocking us. He then got out swinging a BASSBALL BAT (which he just happened to have with him - in the passenge footwell for u/k reasons), with a bottle of bud in the other hand! He calmly said " touch my car again and i'll take your fkin ed off!"
    Unfortunately being at the front I ended up face to face. (being astraddle the bike with cleats I was a bit vulnerable) so couldn't really do anything. I said something cowardly like "i got your reg mate you won't get away with it" to which he got in his car and speed off, after shouting a round of f***s.
    What happened next was not to be expected. Once the dust had settled we carried on and 3 miles later entered a village. There was c0ckend waiting for us outside the chippy! We were doing about 24mph and he ran into the road swinging and kicking!! Somehow I managed to duck and swerve at the same time. We carried on thinking that would be the end of it. But he proceeded to get back in his car and chase us. No word of a lie I swear red mist had set in and he was trying to run me of the road. This time me being newie and not as fast as the others I was stuck at the back. I could here his engine revving up behind me and as we darted into a side street, and into a dead end I really thought I was history. I just managed to get between some bollards into a cut through with inches to spare! We re-groupped and decided to wait in a quiet residential street. I was out of breathe and fuming by now. First I got threatened with the bat, then he tried to punch and kick me off my bike, and then he tried to run me off the road! AND I HADN'T DONE ANYTHING!
    What happened next was not to be expected. c0ckend came round the corner. This time we all got off are bikes and confronted the n0b. Him + two mates got out. Am pretty sure it was about to kick off - especailly knowing one of my mates as I do (ex army and all) fists were clenched and my mate gave the nod!
    What happened next was not to be expected - Police came round the corner! They must have been in the right place at the right time!
    After alot of shouting the Police seperated us, and being the more sensible type I explained what happened and the baseball bat and bottle of bud were found by the Police. The cop said ''its friday we can't deal with him now'' and fobbed us off!
    To conclude I complained and statements were taken. The c0ck was prosecuted.

    Moral of the story as far as I'm concerned, unless your prepared for a fight - do nothing!
    "I spend my petrol money on Bikes, Beer, Pizza, and Donuts "

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38256268@N04/3517156549/
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    This guy (pictured below) nearly crashed into me pulling out of a side road whilst on his mobile phone (I was in my car, I may well have been roadkill if on my bike!). I shouted at him and made a phone gesture. Next set of lights he got out of his car and tried to get my door open (I had locked it in time), then he took an almighty swing with his elbow to smash the window - fortunately it held, though it was a huge bang and I was cowering, I shouted "don't do that" and "go away" (very brave of me!) which he did thankfully. I can only imagine what would have happened if he got his hands on me. And what did I do wrong? Criticise him for nearly crashing into me whilst on his phone! Its not safe out there!
    rage.jpg
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Someone did exactly that to me once. I opened the door into him hard to push him away having got his reg etc and drove off quicksmart to the nearest nick.
  • antfly
    antfly Posts: 3,276
    OP did the right thing in running away.Being something of a coward I tend to avoid confontation myself,you just don`t know what might happen.If people honk I assume they are warning me of their presence and ignore it,they never seem to honk again if you ignore it and why should it bother me anyway.I do make gestures occasionally but only with good reason and not at thuggish looking men and I have no terrible tales to tell.I wouldn`t mind a pepper spray,just in case,but when I looked on the internet it seems that they are illegal here but you can make your own.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • Porgy
    Porgy Posts: 4,525
    edited May 2009
    If you criticise a driver for anything it's a lottery as to whether they take it on board, ignore you, or try to assault you.

    It used to be an automatic reaction for me to complain about poor drivers, and ended up being attcked quite a few times - sometimes on someone else's behalf. But under influence of my wife and people who care about me I've learned to control the urge to complain.

    But that means they get away with it doesn;t it? Very frustrating!
  • downfader
    downfader Posts: 3,686
    Porgy wrote:
    But that means they get away with it doesn;t it? Very frustrating!

    A guy on a music forum said his missus whilst on her own had been road raged and threatened by some plank. He called the police and didnt get the outcome he'd hoped. There was talk he was tempted to phone the police anonymously to report said plates as a dirty perv talking to kiddies. :lol:
    zedders wrote:
    What happened next was not to be expected

    :lol: How many times did you feel you needed to say that? :lol:
  • zedders
    zedders Posts: 509
    zedders wrote:
    What happened next was not to be expected

    [/quote]:lol: How many times did you feel you needed to say that? :lol:[/quote]

    urmm? Not sure? :lol::lol:
    "I spend my petrol money on Bikes, Beer, Pizza, and Donuts "

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38256268@N04/3517156549/
  • Mr_Cellophane
    Mr_Cellophane Posts: 690
    zedders wrote:
    zedders wrote:
    What happened next was not to be expected
    :lol: How many times did you feel you needed to say that? :lol:[/quote]

    urmm? Not sure? :lol::lol:[/quote]

    4 :lol:
  • zedders
    zedders Posts: 509
    4 seems about right without reading it again!
    1 Bat, 2 kick & punch, 3 chase, 4 Police turn up?
    I do find it funny now mind you, but at the time though I was not best pleased.
    "I spend my petrol money on Bikes, Beer, Pizza, and Donuts "

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38256268@N04/3517156549/
  • downfader
    downfader Posts: 3,686
    zedders wrote:
    4 seems about right without reading it again!
    1 Bat, 2 kick & punch, 3 chase, 4 Police turn up?
    I do find it funny now mind you, but at the time though I was not best pleased.

    Its funny how you can laugh at some of the odder things on the road a long while after. Just proves your more mature than the pillock with the bat :)
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    Porgy wrote:
    If you criticise a driver for anything it's a lottery as to whether they take it on board, ignore you, or try to assault you.

    It used to be an automatic reaction for me to complain about poor drivers, and ended up being attcked quite a few times - sometimes on someone else's behalf. But under influence of my wife and people who care about me I've learned to control the urge to complain.

    But that means they get away with it doesn;t it? Very frustrating!
    Yes, as a behaviourist (don't ask) I am a firm believer in giving feedback, but I can see now that this is not always appreciated!!!
  • nolf
    nolf Posts: 1,287
    I've had a few unpleasent confrontations. If I'm on my own I generally hold my tongue and give a shake of the head, I'm generally a relaxed person and so find it difficult to get worked up about anything.

    I do however remember one time when I was cycling through some quiet back roads around an estate and an angry woman pulled me over. She gave me an earful of baseless complaints and I just burst out laughing and continued on my way. That really got her riled and so she followed me for a bit blasting her horn at me. I stopped again to see if she wanted another confrontation but she carried on.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • I recently rode the Colne Valley Challenge, with about 300 other riders. Part of the route was on the roads, which were not closed off, so a few cars about.

    At one point early in the ride, was riding down a long straight road, just following a climb and 90 degree bend. I was riding slowly waiting for a mate, and was being overtaken by a group of 4 guys who were much faster than me.

    Anyway, the road behind and in front was full of cyclist but as the group passed me some knob comes down the other side of the road ovetaking everyone honking his horn.

    Now I know all of the left lane of the road was taken up by cyclists, as there were many overtakes going on, but the road was straight and clear ahead (marshalls were managing traffic further up so we could take a right turn) and he could see it was an event of some sort - so why get on the horn?

    Would he have done that if there we were on horses? I hate the fact that horse riders get treated better than cyclists!

    Anyway, a very good reason why I stay off the road and stick to the countryside instead.

    I must add that we met lots of other cars during the event and all of them were polite, courtious and friendly.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Supertouring, good point about the horses (although when a horse goes loco, it realyy goes!)

    Perhaps more drumming in about cyclists during theory test and driving lessons should be done...
  • Father Faff
    Father Faff Posts: 1,176
    Best policy is to avoid confrontation at all costs. You don't know who is in that car. In Tottenham when I was less cautious about finger waving I had two incidents where 1) a car driver deliberately knocked me off got out and whacked me and 2) a taxi driver deliberately rammed me off the bike and then thumped me, both after cutting me up and I finger waved back.. In the latter case I had a witness and tracked the taxi down - turned out to be unregistered and illegally operating as a black cab - and the cops wouldn't prosecute. I was lucky the guys who went for me just used their fists and didn't pull a bat, blade or shooter.
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