Re: ignorant drivers thread !!!!
The rule I teach is that bicyclists fare best when they act as drivers of vehicles. This means position yourself in the lane where a driver expects a vehicle to be. Be predictable. Signal EVERY move. Get in the habit of taking a quick glance backward before making a lane change, or turning. The act of taking a quick glance lets you get a quick visual of who is behind you, as well it lets that driver know that you are aware they are back there and that you might be planning a move. None of this will 100% guarantee you aren't going to have problems, but it has been proven several times over in several communities to greatly reduce the number of bicycle vs car incidents.
While on my way home from work one day last August, I was almost run off the road. The driver pulled along side me and told me to get off the road before he runs me off. I was doing between 18-20mph in a 25mph residential area. His kids were in the vehicle and he used language that would make a sailor blush. I got his plate number and called the police. They called back stating the vehicle make and color did not match at all. I went for a short ride, found the vehicle, and called the police with the new information. Thanks to Google and Facebook, I found his name and address as well.
More important than sharing the road, this guy taught his children that it is ok to talk to and treat people that way. Parents should be educating their children so we can break the cycle of self centered behavior, not perpetuate it.
I had a visit from an officer and he told me that he went and had a conversation with the driver AND his children. He told them that according to city ordinance, cyclists have the SAME rights and responsibilities as gas and diesel powered vehicles. The driver felt that my move to the left was not an indication that it was not safe to share the road, but an aggressive maneuver to hit his truck. He was 20 feet behind me when I moved left. He told the officer he was doing around 30mph and I was going too slow. The officer told him the speed limit is 25mph and it is the responsibility of the driver to know that.
In the end, that family learned a lesson. I prayed that the lesson he learned that day saved the life of another cyclist further on down the line. Even scarier is that the entire exchange happened over the distance of less than one city block at the end of which he turned left. There was literally no need for it to happen. If I was "disrupting his commute," it was for maybe 30 yards or so. He actually pulled along side me, which means he could have kept going, said nothing, and made his left turn. Instead, he chose to use his truck as a tool for intimidation and aggression. He used foul language in front of his children. Worst, he demonstrated to his children that when you are frustrated with a situation, it is OK to be outwardly aggressive, angry, and threatening to get your way.
If he was that quick to react that way towards me, how often does he react that way in those situations? How often are his kids exposed to that? What happens when his kids become driving adults? Do they mirror his behavior? What if he DID knock me off my bike? What would his kids think then? The officer that stopped by is also a school resource officer. He said the kids were reluctant to talk to him at first. He thinks they were a little scared by the whole thing. The officer also spends a little time each month as a bicycle cop as well so he was the best guy to have deal with this. I just hope and pray that the guy AND his kids think twice next time and give the cyclist the respect he/she is due.
Confronting the driver the way you did might have been a bit fruitless. I realize how stressful those situations can be, but cooler heads will always prevail. If it were me in your situation, I would have dropped back, gotten the tag number, and followed the guy to his destination. That gives you some time to cool the emotions a bit and formulate a plan. If you are going to have contact with a driver and exchange expletives, after the conversation, has anything been gained? You both are still angry. He is still of the mindset that you don't belong on the road and you are of the mindset that he is a total ******bag.
The police are there for a reason. I would call in his plate and follow him until cops show up. Even if he isn't charged, flashing police beacons in the mirror can scare quite a few folks straight.