Tuesday Coffee Talk - What's your Car Harassment story?

Image from Boise Weekly

The incident that happened in Longmont as two cyclists were out for a Sunday ride is terrible and unjustified, yet sadly this happens more than you'd guess, especially if you live outside of places like Boulder. Harassment like this makes us frustrated and pissed off, just boiling over enough so when the next jackass does this we overreact and explode, leaving us no better than the driver. Huge congrats to these two riders for keeping their cool (at least what we saw in film), many would not and let's all take a moment and decompress and share our stories. What is the worst thing that has happened to you while out on the roads?

I've had a lot of crap handed to me on the bike over the years and by far most of it happened while not living in Colorado but the worst did happen in Boulder County on St. Vrain Road west of Longmont. This road is mostly dead of traffic and pretty darn straight so one day I was riding, yes, two abreast when a large truck passed us honking and yelling. It passed us slowly and we yelled something back, I think making fun of the female drivers weight. She stopped and got out and it turned into a yelling match for what seemed like 5 minutes over nonsense. I was young then, today I'd just wave and ride on, truly the better route to take than one I had 10-ish years ago.

News Item: 


Sunshine Canyon Descent

This spring I was told by a man at a stop sign at the bottom of Sunshine Canyon that I should ride on Flagstaff and not Sunshine Canyon because his house burned down a couple years ago. I told him it was unfortunate that his house burned down, but this was a public road and I don't really see the correlation he was making between his house and my riding. This continued for about 5 minutes, which culminated in an F-bomb laced tirade and him calling me a "selfish f***ing liberal" several times. I'm not sure why he assumed I was a liberal, other than being in Boulder.

Sunshine Canyon Descent

I love the assumption that by riding a bike one is liberal. Just like noted mountain biker George Bush. Just recently on national TV a well known liberal (assistant sec of state for Carter, Mondale campaign chair, vocal Obama supporter) stated that "all spandex wearing, euro-trash bicycle riders should be run over." And Obama's former press sec stated that "only doofusses ride bicycles." Hating bicyclists has nothing to do with one's politics.

when have actual facts ever

when have actual facts ever gotten in the way of some nutjob's perceived wrongs at the hands of society?

you can't control other people's perceptions, prejudices or projection, only your reactions to them. now that's not to say you shouldn't work to get this changed systemically, but isolated escalation only serves to reinforce the common-denominator perception that "those damned bikers are the selfish assholes in this equation". Truth has very little to do with it; perception is reality.

look at the simple fact that Dirk's encounter is being treated seriously by the media and the cops; it's because he remained calm, got irrefutable facts and took the high road in this instance and showed the driver to clearly be the unhinged toolbox that he clearly is.

remaining calm and taking the

remaining calm and taking the high road wasn't the key. There have been many instances where one party or the other has remained calm, etc, but the other person can lie and that lie gets published and the calm person becomes a victim also. The key is the video (and that they appear calm in it). It does not lie.

sharing the road

Seems like all the angry drivers are out and about these days! Last Friday the small group I was with got yelled at for taking the lane on a tight right turn. This guy decided to stop in the middle of a lane, roll down his window, and tell us we need to stay in the bike lane. (full description on incident is on my website.) We just smiled and waved, which for most incidents is indeed the best approach these days.

No need for hostility in most cases

Okay, so these weren't exactly road rage incidents but I have had two extremely close calls in the last two days.

First was when a car pulled away from the curb right in front of me near 32nd and Lowell. I was in the middle of the lane going downhill pretty fast and figured the driver was backing in to the parking spot. Luckily, my brakes are well adjusted. When she saw me, she STOPPED, rolled down her window and apologized. I calmly told her to please just watch a little closer - no need for hostility as it was an honest mistake.

Yesterday's incident was similar when a driver stopped in the middle of a residential street with his right signal on. As I proceeded to go around to his left, he proceeded to TURN left into a driveway. I actually felt my rear tire rub his bumper as I made a b-line for the sidewalk. Luckily I was on my CX bike so the curb impact was inconsequential. He actually started to say something but when I pointed out his signal (still blinking), he apologized.

My point is that even though both of these drivers made pretty serious judgement errors that almost turned me into road pizza, a calm demeanor kept my blood pressure in check, allowing everyone to enjoy the rest of their day. Be attentive, be safe and by all means, be NICE out there!

I've been lucky as I haven't

I've been lucky as I haven't had very many incidents with cars. Most of my riding is on country roads with low traffic though. One of the more funny ones I did have was while waiting at a red light on Holly and 128th when a car (on the opposite side of the road) yelled...."Hey (expletive), there's a sidewalk for bikes."

C Springs Cop Ambivalence

The worst of many unpleasant actions against me by motorists occurred in the early 80's. Three of us were riding along Academy Blvd near T. Gap Rd. (Austin Bluffs Pkwy now, I think), not usually a treacherous road back then. Nevertheless a flatbed semi driver decided that three skinny juniors riding single file took up too much of his roadway. He swerved, forcing us off the road with his trailer. I saw what was happening and rode onto the dirt without any contact, as did one of my buddies. The third rider was pushed off the road by the truck, but stayed up. No road-ragey words exchanged, but his actions were clear to us. We watched the truck turn in to a nearby lot and park. Pretty typical abuse I know, but the worst part is that I called the cops and reported what happened, and where the rig and driver were. They asked if we could identify the driver. Being kinda busy avoiding truck tires, we didn't do a study. That being the case they said nothing could be done! Lesson learned; you're on you own.