« Panda Cycles Wins | Main | Monday Afternoon Commute - I would rather smile on a bike than cry in a BMW »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My own evolution is similar, though still a work in progress.

I tell myself that the antidote to driver jerkiness is not vigilatism, even of the verbal variety. I use the BikeSnob technique of imagining a variety of painful deaths upon the driver. If it's a honker, I might ride very deliberately and maintain my exact position in the road without looking around, since they obviously see me, but otherwise not respond.

Even if it avoids only half of the eruptions of indignation I muster, one of those avoided might be a violent person.

Good luck to these folks. Hope they catch the perp.

Dejavu reading the guy's story for me. Luckily I wasn't punched, but I was tackled off the bike on a cycletrack. I didn't even thump the car--only put my hand on it to avoid falling into it following the idiot driver's decision to floor the suv into the intersection and screech his brakes to avoid hitting pedestrians legally crossing.

I wish the person posted more details of how to get in touch with them and about the actual vehicle in question. If it was a white escalade then I will be glad to send along my police report to them.

Yeah, I realized that when I thudded someone's hood for turning right without yielding to a crowd of pedestrians. Even with dozens of witnesses (and one traffic cop), the guy still got out of the car and started yelling.

Nowadays I just yell if I'm on foot, or ding my bell -- which unfortunately doesn't always get heard, or somehow sounds "un-manly" to others (like a bystander who thought my bell-ringing was hilarious, which was just even more maddening while I was being cut off by an oblivious bike lane swerving driver). However, I just can't bring myself to go the air-horn route.

Best rule is to stay mellow and just turn the other lycra covered cheek in their face :).

Possible counter solutions:

1) Delta Airzound 115 Db (Bike Air Horn). See Amazon and YouTube videos. $24-35.

2) Helmet cam. $199-299.

3) Judo lessons.

Guy on the NW Branch trail the other week had an old-timey AHHH-OOOO-GAHH bubble horn. Definitely want one of those.

Or have the same rights that 27 states grant...and messers Smith & Wesson.

It's only an okay bike, although someone might think you're the police.

For a little while, the Secret Service rode those wierd Trek Y-Bikes, but now they ride Cannondales.

I hate it when people license out their names---the Hummer bikes a few years back were pretty funny too.

But under the "stand your ground" laws this would be a clean shoot and there would be one less road rage asshole out there

It's clear someone else makes the frames, but they have a whole line of bikes. I think they have a hand in the design and specifications, not jsut licensing. The specs are a bit different from civilian bikes. Almost totally SRAM components, and one bike even has a cable disc front brake and rim rear brakes.

As for SYG, I don't think this rider saw it coming, so I'm not sure it would have helped him.

Once when a driver almost hit me he was apologetic until I hit his car with my open palm merely to emphasize what I was saying, which infuriated him and brought us close to fighting. Another time I spat on a car when the driver was doing something stupid. That infuriated him and he then tried to hit me. It occurred to me then that I shouldn't ever touch a car (it is considered an extension of their bodies, I guess, to some drivers), and it is no use responding to drivers with anger, no matter how much they deserve it, because it could lead to violence. I began to think of cars as the silverback gorillas, and we are the other gorillas who have to act submissively. This has kept me out of trouble for several years now during which drivers have continued to do stupid things but I've not reacted.

A friend of mine squirted his water bottle into the open window of a car at a passenger who yelled at us to get out of the road. They wound up chasing us up onto the sidewalk at Washington Circle, and I think we were only save by the fact that they couldn't squeeze between a tree and a bollard and had to stop suddenly.

We probably should have called the police.

think a little:

Yeah, wouldn't it be awesome if that guy could just shoot at cyclists instead of getting out of the car?

As it stands, you can do a right hook over a cyclist in the bike lane, or run bikes off the road, causing serious injury. Even if it is caught on camera, the MPD will not prosecute. No guns required.

I've called police a number a few times after being run off the road, even with the plate number they did nothing. Only time the police responded was after being shot at with a paint ball gun.

This really raises this issue to the point that the cyclists have to stand up for themselves (as the police don't back them when they should). Yes there is a risk of a confrontation ending badly, but if cyclists don't standup for their selves things will only get worse.

This is a tense topic for most cyclists. There is little public proctection or respect. This in itself places most cyclists at a loss and forces them to over react. Yet, when a driver puts your life in danger strange and powerful emotions from both sides arise.

I still believe counter measures offered above in my previous post have relevance and help.

1) I agree the car is considered an extension to the driver. Hitting the car makes escalation more risky.

2) Return verbal abuse and arm waving only seems to relieve the cyclist but often inflames the driver more.

It is a judgment call to retaliate. Prepare for hysterical counter attack, escalation and the consequences.

However, the laws are weak, roads are deemed to be shared so one must claim a stand to a reasonable degree.

I try to be polite to drivers who are oblivious but not behaving overtly dangerous. However, drivers on a cell phones or those who are mean Neanderthals, will encounter wrath and I am prepared for the escalation and 911.

Some 'possible' suggestions:

1) Helmet cam. Drivers de-escalate quickly when it is realized. The perception of evidence is powerful. Most people in DC have a some sort of clearance at stake fir their job.

2) Fight or flight. Tough judgment call.

3) Track them down and apply all the possible (small claims or civil)court tools for damages. Make aholes hurt with time, money, effort and emotion.

Ride safe and try to be polite. However, ride with determined vigilance.

If you don't want a fight, don't pick one. It's that simple. If you think you can win the fight, then by all means, throw things at drivers through open windows, hit their car with you hand/foot/lock, etc. But you better be pretty confident about your combative skills, because you have absolutely no idea who that driver is or what they can and will do to you. I've been on both ends of these stories, and it's been my experience that motorists are a lot more willing to mix it up when confronted than cyclists are.

I'm with Asuka--dont play unless you are willing to play the Chicago way.

Which is why in some ways its much easier to bike in the southern and western states

The point of thumping the car, however, isn't necessarily to express anger--it's also to alert the driver that he is oblivious to his surroundings. For this reason, i like the idea of a good thump. I've only done this, however, as a pedestrian, when some asshat blocks a heavily trafficked sidewalk trying to make a turn that he obviously wasn't going to make, and i think the risk of road rage against pedestrians is lower.

So the best policy might be to only thump if you can do so in a way that the driver can't see you do so, and then plausibly deny having done so if he goes ballistic. That way, at least the message that he doesn't know what's going on around his vehicle still gets through.

Prolly best to do this in places where one has a clear escape route or safe haven (nearby cop, for example).

This is an interesting and helpful discussion - love the airhorn option. But after this month I am at the end of my rope.

I've been biking to work for a few years now, from the Takoma area to downtown and back, so mostly down or near Georgia Ave. And lately things have gotten quite a bit worse, in terms of deliberately aggressive drivers, hostile pedestrians, and lack of protection. This week I was nudged off the road by a van, watched a biker knocked down by a car and then threatened by a bystander, and threatened myself for witnessing the latter by a second bystander.

I know that I can basically expect no help from the police, and none from anyone save my fellow bikers. Which is a pretty dodgy proposition. I know it's always been this way, but my own experiences are getting worse and the cost/benefit balance is tipping the wrong way.

So I'm wondering - do we have any hope here? Other than being defensive and optimistic and patient, I mean? That's a short-term and ultimately ineffective solution, IMO. DC is notoriously hostile to both pedestrians and cyclists (in terms of legal protection). Anyone have any bright ideas for more creative and effective legal/political solutions?

At this point, the wisest choice for me is to abandon my cycling commute and hit the gym. Which puts me back in the driving/transit pool on both accounts - more costly for everyone involved. I don't want to do this, but I don't want to die before my time either.

Matt, have you considered a parallel street to Georgia? That may help. Sorry, that's kind of a crappy solution, but nothing else is likely to change fast enough to help you. MPD is getting better, DDOT is moving as fast as it probably can. Are you a WABA member?

Hi washcycle - I am a WABA member, and I do run other streets beside Georgia; I meant mainly that I'm in the "Georgia corridor" speaking broadly. But there are always places where things are hairy, no matter which route I take...

I guess I'm not really expecting quick action, but I'm not particularly sanguine that slow-and-steady is going to get us where we need to anytime in this decade. So I am interested in whether there are additional tactics/strategies that might be available to the community as a whole, however unorthodox.

I've got nothing. Run for ANC?

Matt, not as a criticism but as a question, are you runing bright flashing lights front and rear, even during the day?

I noticed a big change in driver behavior when I do that. It sounds silly, but it might be worth a try.


Have you considered switching to the Metropolitan Branch Trail?

Even if it is a little bit out of the way sometimes a few extra miles are worth it if it avoids potential conflicts with traffic.

My route from Takoma to downtown was to go Maple to the underpass, hop on Third. From there, take Kansas to 5th, dog leg by Irving and come down along the Reservoir.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader