Confronting a Driver from Your Bike Is Never Worth It

From Outside Magazine
By Eben Weiss

Photo: Audrey Shtecinjo/Stocksy

Sometimes the best offense is none at all

Confrontations with strangers are a fact of life. Fortunately, most of these are relatively minor, and unless you’re Larry David, you’re unlikely to get into a heated argument with someone over an airplane seat armrest or a poorly-placed shopping cart. Some situations, however, can be considerably more fraught, like when you’re riding a bike and a driver almost kills you.

You don’t have to be a cyclist to almost get killed by a driver; you can be in your own car, on foot, or simply enjoying a donut. However, what’s unique about being on a bicycle is that you’ve got all the physical vulnerability of a pedestrian, yet thanks to the potent combination of a bike and the shot of adrenaline that accompanies nearly dying you’re also often able to catch up with and directly address your would-be assailant. And when someone plays fast and loose with your life, the impulse to do just that can be irresistible.

So should you?

Let’s just say you do yield to the impulse to confront a bad driver, and at the next red light you’re face to face with the piece of crap who almost hit you with their car. What do you do now? Well, as tempting as it may be to deck a homicidal trucker or wield your U-lock, then unleash a mighty bellow from atop the roof of an Uber driver’s Kia, we all know that violence is never the answer. (Well, almost never.)

Short of that, all that’s left to do is to say something, at which point your anger and your wits fight for control of your tongue. If the former wins then you simply hurl invective at the driver until you undergo some sort of catharsis and/or get punched in the face, and if the latter wins then you attempt to hit the driver with some piercing insight that you hope will instantly cause them to wither and apologize—kind of like that deadly joke from Monty Python, only in insult form.

Unfortunately, in real world situations, neither of these approaches is effective. No matter how justified, ultimately it’s never satisfying to fly into a rage; if anything, you just wind up feeling guilty and ashamed, like when you wake up on the couch covered in Cheetos after a Netflix binge. As for administering a devastating dressing-down with such surgical precision that the driver immediately questions all the life choices that led them up to this moment, no matter how clever you are, attempts to deliver the mot juste invariably backfire and leave you feeling even angrier.

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