From the Venus de Miles newsletter:
Dear Babbly: I was almost sideswiped by a car, and my friend had a guy honking and yelling at her while riding. Both incidents infuriated us, but we agreed we’re reduced to babbling idiots when we try to come up with something to say to these people. Can you help?
– Angry and Helpless
Dear Angry and Helpless:
Incidents like these certainly do make us angry, and they can be very dangerous. Rather than trying to respond while you are angry, which can escalate the confrontation, focus first on ensuring your safety. Quickly assess the situation, and if at all possible, catch as many details as you can of the perp: license is great, car details too. As soon as you can safely pull over, record this info (use a memo app on your phone, or send yourself a text message) for later because you may not accurately remember details. Include the time, date, and exact location. And if there are any witnesses, get their contact info too for corroboration.
If you think there is sufficient info and public safety threat, you can call law enforcement to report it once you’re home. Whether or not you do this, you should definitely also report it to the Close Call Database.
This is a resource for cataloging and documenting driver aggression and hostility towards cyclists. It provides important information to fellow cyclists, local police, and prosecutors.
It’s important to report as much as we can because multiple reports on the same perp carry more weight. You never know how many other people they have harassed, and while your details may seem insignificant or incomplete, taken with other reports it can help fill in a whole picture and spell bad news for the bad guys!
Please take a couple minutes to learn about the Close Call Database right now. It’s a much healthier way to channel your anger at these people and be part of the solution.