Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How Do You Respond to Motorists?

How do you respond when a motorist honks, yells or otherwise harasses you?

a) The good ol' one-finger salute
b) Smile and wave like the driver is a long-lost friend
c) Invite the motorist to pull over so that you can calmly explain the concept of "Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules"
d) Memorize license plate number and vehicle description and file police report
e) Tirade of profanity
f) Ignore them like Lance ignores the crowds shouting along the Alpe d'Huez

Let's hear about it!


Khal said...

Usually I respond with an attempt at (c). Sometimes if its been a really bad week at the bomb factory they just get the bird.

My Sicilian/Lebanese genetic code usually precludes (f).

Neale said...

b or f. I tried both a and c (once each) and they both made me too nervous. For me, it's far easier to just let it slide.

This is not a popular opinion on the LCI list. But I just don't think it's going to help anything to be confrontational. When a motorist is rude to you, then in the minds of other folks in the area, he's a jerk. When you're rude right back, well, now you have two jerks.

Neale said...

I should note that I've ridden home with Khal a few times. One time a guy came back into the lane quicker than Khal would have liked. I didn't even notice but holy crap you shoulda seen Khal sprint up Conoco hill in what was ultimately a futile attempt to catch the guy.

For a guy with a jersey that says "old guys who get fat in the winter" that man can *climb*. Ho ho holy crap.

Khal said...

This winter I seem to be living up to the jersey. Gotta break down and get the rollers out. That 4.5 mile commute doesn't burn enough calories, at least when I am compulsively eating like I've been lately (stress reaction to work stuff).

Khal said...

In case anyone is actually reading this other than the usual suspects, here's a serious comment. Neale is right in his first post. Confrontation can often go badly and unless you are very good at it, simply trying to explain yourself (c) is sometimes futile in a stressful situation as these often are when you have just dodged a 5,000 lb bullet.

I've occasionally had a meaningful conversation with a motorist after an incident, but more often ended up with everyone within a quarter mile hearing what we were arguing about. Its not worth it, and it can escalate as road rage often takes over, esp. right now with everyone wound up tight over the fate of the lab. My problem is that I can sometimes let my irritation get ahead of my though processes and then some motorist knows how I REALLY feel.

Be careful out there.

Scott said...

I am happy to say that I have finally trained myself to respond without use of the one-finger salute.

In most situations I will simply ignore or smile and wave. However, there is one situation where I typically respond in a vulgar manner: The obnoxious horn blast. Any motorist who gives me a long blast on the horn from directly behind or beside me will definitely be getting at least an unkind word. Seems fair though as the horn assault is in my mind the audio equivalent of the finger.

What's the point of that horn blast, anyway? Is it simply a low-minded, Ragsdale-esque expression that I don't belong on the road? Is it an expression of disapproval at my choice of lane position? Are people just jealous that I am getting a workout while they are stuck in their box? Maybe I need to write a blog entry on this topic.

Neale said...

When I first moved to town I witnessed an elderly dude waiting to turn left across Diamond onto Canyon. There was a younger dude behind him *leaning* on the horn. I was only in earshot for 30 seconds or so but the horn was blaring the entire time.

I like to tell my students that people are going to honk at you regardless of your means of transport. Inside a car you just don't hear it so well (and don't feel as threatened). Some people are just jerks, no need to assume you being on a bicycle makes any difference to them.

So, yeah, getting honked at is unsettling, but just remember you get honked at in your car too. Try to shake it off, let it slide, and don't let it ruin your ride.

One time riding home from a T-Board meeting a truck full of high school girls honked at me and one of them yelled "you're hot!" Let's not rule out the possibility of automotive wolf-whistling.

I suspect in your case, Scott, the beeps are comments on your callipygian good looks.

Khal said...

For anyone else who wondered what callipygian means: having shapely buttocks.



Neale said...

It's the snooty way to say "nice ass"!

Khal said...

Nice way to compliment a girl and not have her slap you until she Googles the meaning. I'll have to remember that one.

Scott said...

I like this line of thinking. Clearly when someone is honking at me I should take it as a compliment. Hopefully I will not blush! :)

Scott said...

A discussion on this very topic on the Commute by Bike blog: