Opinion: Here’s What’s at the Core of Road Rage Toward Cyclists

The dangers of sharing roads while “other-ized.”

The German couple was out to see America by bicycle. It was day two of their big adventure, a perfect springtime afternoon. We met by chance on U.S. Highway 180, halfway between Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon.

I was making the 40-mile trip by bicycle back to my eco-shack in the boonies, pulling a single-wheel trailer loaded with groceries. They were outfitted for a month-long ride with stout panniers and lightweight camping gear. We stood astride our bikes by the side of the road, chatting in the sunshine.

The two had flown into Flagstaff the day before and planned to watch the sun set that night on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. “We still have jet lag,” the guy said, “but we can’t wait to see it. This is great.”

A big motorhome swept past, and we all leaned, involuntarily, away from it. I mentioned that the road was far safer at night, when there’s less traffic.

“Oh, we won’t be riding at night,” the woman said. “We’re here to see the West. Forty-four miles so far. What a beautiful road.”

Indeed it is. Route 180 climbs the west flank of the San Francisco Peaks through ponderosa pine forest, tops out in bright-green aspen groves a mile and a half above sea level, then drops 2,000 vertical feet into the high desert.

I asked my new friends what they thought of the traffic. Sharing any pavement with motor vehicles is risky for bicyclists, but Route 180 is truly a death trap — crowded with tourists in a hurry who generally look everywhere except at the road. Shoulders, where they exist, are less than 18 inches wide.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” the guy said. “I was a little scared by the drivers at first, but now I’m starting to trust them.”

“Well, don’t!” I practically shouted, then reeled out my bike-load of worries onto the formerly blissful travelers. We agreed to ride together for a while, and headed off, single file and way over on the right side of the road, where we belonged.

But the driver of the big Dodge Ram was displeased anyway. He came up fast behind us, stood on the horn, and sped up as he passed us — so closely that if he had hit a pothole and swerved, he would have creamed us. Then he stuck his arm out the window and flipped us the bird.

Welcome to America, I thought, the land of Get Out of My Way.

The Germans were puzzled by the incident. “What just happened?” they asked.

I explained that there are lots of angry people in America. For some reason, the sight of a bicycle on the highway really triggers rage in some drivers. I said that in my years of bike touring I’ve been cursed at, swerved at, and spit at. A beer bottle has been lobbed my way. More than once, a stranger has yelled out the window, “Get a job!”

To my knowledge, there is no statistical link between bicycling and employment status. Maybe there’s some research I don’t know about. But I do have some guesses about where this kind of inexcusable behavior comes from.

Perhaps some of you are thinking, “Well, that driver in the truck was probably just fed up with bicyclists who don’t obey the traffic laws.” Maybe, but even if that were true, the driver’s pointless, threatening display was way out of proportion to any perceived “offense.” And there was no actual offense, by the way: We two-wheelers were following Arizona traffic laws to the letter.

No, that kind of hostility comes, I believe, from deep in a person’s psyche: a disdain for and fear of people who are perceived as different. To some drivers, the bicyclist is the “other,” the one who is different. And difference, for some at least, presents a threat. To these people, the other can’t be trusted, and the other shouldn’t even be here.

That distrust makes no sense, but humans do not always make sense. Despite our undeniable skill at abstract reasoning, we are largely irrational beings, with violent tendencies. Fear of the other just is.

This fear is probably at the root of most of the world’s ailments. It sparks wars, fuels religious persecution, and keeps demagogues in business. In the past, it has led to lynchings, and it leads to unarmed black men being shot in America today.

And on a perfect spring day in Arizona, it could have gotten three bicyclists killed on a highway. Imagine that.

Michael Wolcott is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. Top photo: David Mulder


Showing 49 comments
  • Kevin

    It seems to me that most people can’t even recognize the humanity in people outside of their family and “tribe.” Liberals are all “blank.” Republicans are all “blank.” Guys riding bikes in spandex are all sub-human trash who are delaying me from my destination by 5-seconds.

    I do blame infrastructure. Even “bike friendly” Colorado has a dearth of bike lanes, bike routes, dedicated paths, etc… I mostly blame a political and social climate in which everyone who’s different is wrong. And not just wrong, but evil and actively looking to destroy my idealized version of America.

    • Mike

      It’s not fear it’s annoyance over the fact that you are slowing people down so you can enjoy your trip or get your exercise. Roads are made for automobiles. You are the one putting yourself in danger. Maybe if you weren’t so selfish by assuming your little bike trip is more important than than the destinations of the people you are slowing down.

      • Adam

        Roads predated automobiles and you need to re-evaluate your life if the 10 to 20 second delay caused by waiting for a safe moment to pass a cyclist makes you mad.

      • Savvy Senior

        Roads were first constructed for the bicycle boom in the later 1800’s, and early cars, even airplanes, were made by former bicycle makers like the Wright Brothers.
        You’re another self-absorbed jerk in an over-sized pickup, most likely, when the majority of owners don’t even work in agriculture or construction where those are needed.
        But to the point, road blockage is predominantly from slow trailer-pulling vehicles and RVs in National Parks and summer tourist areas. The numbers of cyclists you pass in a day do not slow you even one second, because the five seconds you lose, if you even wait before safely passing, are immediately recovered by your aggressive acceleration, at least for the short time it takes to once again get stuck, behind the next RV. Rights, by the way? You actually are dismissing a stranger’s right to enjoy their trip or get exercise? What additional “Right” are you claiming here? Their trip is precisely and exactly as important, no more nor less, than everyone else’s, and by being ahead of you, have the right of way. Arrogance bred in political talk shows, where mocking symbolic “others” is the norm. Yet, Right-wingers are the victims, always, somehow? If a specific individual does violate a law, they are accountable; but no perceived offense justifies blanket endangerment of every other cyclist you encounter.
        The ever-expanding list of supposed “un-Americans” cleverly put together for political purposes is the most insidious and pervasive issue in modern political exchanges.

      • Rob

        Thanks Mike for demonstrating EXACTLY the kind of selfish and ignorant attitude the writer was talking about. Now if you could only pull your head out of your …

  • Cathy

    Bicyclists are inconsistent. There is no license for a bike or set of rules that all follow or risk a ticket.

    You can be walking on a sidewalk and have a bike come up behind you at full speed. Inches and you would be creamed. Bike lane? Less than 10 feet away.

    Come to intersection. Bike moves into the crosswalk and uses it to do left turns. Stop signs and traffic lights? Optional. Bicyclists look around. No one coming. Go straight through. Car has to pass them again.

    Bikes are dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians because you never know what they are going to do next. People? I move to right and you to left so we can pass on crosswalk. Cars? We all stop at traffic lights. Bikes? Flip a coin.

    • james

      THANK YOU. This is the real reason myself and other motorists hate bicycles. This is exactly it. Not that bicycles are “different”… that is a load of BS.

      They simply have no rules.

      • Brandon

        About 75% of drivers speed, and 40% roll stop signs (National Survey of Speeding and Unsafe Driving
        Attitudes and Behaviors: 2002). Car drivers have rules, they just don’t follow them.

      • Morgan LeBlanc

        Sadly Cathy you are uneducated like many Americans who drive cars. The laws of the road apply to cars, motorcycles and bikes, meaning the vehicle even if it has two wheels has the right of way. this also means that bicycles are on the road and not the side walks. Just because you have the bigger vehicle does not mean you have the right of way.

        Footnote; I have been a safety professional for 30 years and riding a bike for 50!

        • Aaron

          I think it’s pretty common knowledge that bicyclists must abide by the same traffic laws that cars do, the problem is as Cathy pointed out that bicyclists rarely abide by these laws. On super crowded weekends along PCH in southern California we commonly see huge groups of riders together taking up the entire slow lane for miles. This of course causes traffic to back up and tempers begin to flare…unfortunately road rage is all too common here and I have seen it initiated by both drivers and riders. Personally I think road bikes are cool and I give the riders a wide berth but you wouldn’t catch me on one in my overcrowded city streets, too dangerous! We should all just take a big breath, relax a bit and remind ourselves to be more patient and courteous to others around us. Chances are they are nicer people than you imagine! A smile and a wave never hurts either…as long as you’re not waving that middle finger lol!

          • Rob

            I’ve been driving crowded southern California and elsewhere for 41 years and the grand total of time I’ve been delayed because of cyclists is probably 6 minutes. If you’re angry about bike riders taking up PCH, you’ve got bigger issues to contend with.

    • Chris

      maybe there are equal percentages of shitty people who ride bikes and shitty people who drive? for every example you gave about bikers being inconsistent, just swap in the word “driver” and the same applies. if i’m walking i’d rather get hit by a bike than a car any day.

      • Zack

        I think people in general are inconsistent. The labels we put on everyone only creates more distance to what the author is alluding to..

    • Ert

      And everyone driving a automobile is the definition of courteous and consistent? In every group of people there are idiots, bike are no different than cars, motorcycles, dump trucks, or pedestrians in this regard. But the idiots in the multi-ton transportation are the ones who can easily kill the idiots on foot or bike without even inconveniencing themselves so they need to be held to a higher standard of care.

    • Patrick

      Cathy, and cars are dangerous for bicyclists (and motorcyclists) because you never know what they are going to do next- and if they hit you they will kill you.

      Seriously, in motorcycle safety classes, they tell you exactly this.

      The real takeaway is everyone is unpredictable. But as a bicyclist, motorcyclist, and car driver, I have the least sympathy for the car. A car getting hit by a bicycle is dents & scratched paint at worst. While on the other hand I still have large scars from being hit by a car on my bike.

    • Nick

      I appreciate your input. I can see inconsistent behavior as potentially annoying, though it never justifies violent and threatening actions from people driving cars. I bike daily and 99.9% of my interactions with people walking or driving cars are positive. I also ride predictably and try to be considerate of other traffic. Bikes are in a tricky spot because infrastructure in this country is so auto-centric. People walking often have sidewalks. Bikes? Well, who knows? Maybe you get a bike lane if you’re lucky. Otherwise, you get to hang your bacon out and “share the road” with 30-60mph 5000lb steel machines whizzing by you, operated by drivers who have to manage a lot of sensory input. Throw a distracting cell phone or gps in the picture, and it has the potential for a horror show. Maybe the unpredictability of bike riding behavior is the one thing that captures a driver’s attention and lets us get to work and back home to our families alive every day? I don’t know.
      Ultimately, I just try to pretend that everyone on the road is my neighbor. Forces me to be both more tolerant and considerate.

    • Angela

      Funny, when I am driving, drivers seem to be inconsistent too. Lately I am tailgated in a 35 mph zone, seen people speeding in a work zone, swerving in front of me to get to who knows where faster than whomever…

    • kDavid

      Cathy – I have seen bicyclists do unlawful and foolish things. It pisses me off because it gives cyclists a bad name.
      But I have seen far more motorists doing unlawful and foolish things (having completed a 4,763 mile trans am last year, and a nearly daily bicycle commuter). So, are you as a motorist willing to take the rap for all the “idiots” in cars? No? Then why would you paint all cyclists with the same broad brush?
      The core thing to remember here is we all are people with families and lives and joys and troubles and imperfections – and as a motorist you have a special responsibility to keep cyclists safe. Because you alone can end our life with a simple moment of inattention, or reaction of a perceived slight or 15 second delay in your day. AND WE CYCLISTS have the responsibility to act rationally, not be provocative, and obey the rule of the road as they apply to us (and yes, in most states those rules ARE slightly different.) So don’t be angry – share the road. Imagine it’s your loved one on that bike – and Peace. There’s room enough for all of us.

    • Chaz

      On my 10 mile ride today around suburban-rural Eugene, I had three near encounters with cars.

      One u-turned in front of me. Luckily I was able to avoid it by swerving up a driveway.

      One driver backed out in front of me. Again, evasive cycling ensued.

      Finally, a driver at an intersection failed to signal his turn, then tried to cross in front of me to park on the wrong side of the street.

      On one bike ride. I’ve driven for nearly forty years and biked even longer. I too have been annoyed by bicyclists texting while biking, others who thought all black clothing and no lights on a rainy Oregon night was a good strategy, and more.

      No one gets a special dispensation from traffic laws, but to paraphrase the arms merchants: cars don’t kill, but people driving cars sure do.

    • LRS

      Amen…Where I live I see cyclists blowing though intersections and red lights em mass. How does one explain rules of the road to a teen when he sees packs of adults ignoring them? If we cyclists consistently behaved as if we did need licenses and were subject to tickets, things would be better, not perfect but better. I’ve had road rage confrontations as well. I stand my ground and argue my right to the road.

    • Rob

      To claim cyclists are unpredictable is only possible if you COMPLETELY IGNORE car drivers. SMDH!

  • Alan Lemire

    Excellent opinion Michael. And very true, at least from my point of view. As for the the above writer’s comments, bicycles do have to abide by the same rules that cars, trucks and motorcycles do (at least in most states).

  • Ert

    How do cyclists in the US resist the urge to carry a gun on their handlebars and use it on a dipshit like this truck driver? Or does that just lead down the path to roadside shootouts because the guy in the brodozer is surely packing? Geezus. Welcome to America, land of the self entitled…

  • Mike

    I don’t think cyclists should take it personally. Angry drivers are equally irritated by other vehicle drivers who slow them down.

  • DanO

    I drive in Chicago and encounter bikers commuting, delivering, etc. that use the sidewalks, blow lights in front of you, don’t use the bike lanes and I say: “Bikers suck!” And later that day, I take my fixie out for a ride on the rails to trails run that is intersected by roads and when the cars don’t stop for me I say: “Car drivers suck!”

    The truth is, as a society we are all selfish, in a hurry, crave entitlement and rarely think of others. But I’m trying, Ringo….I’m trying real hard……

  • John

    Though smart phones are quickly becoming an even bigger problem in this regard, cars cut people off from society; you’re in a literal bubble! While in a car, drivers act even more self centered then they normally would. “Who cares, not my town. I’ll never see this jerk again.” Imagine if people acted in person to other people as they do in cars and screamed and cursed at someone who accidentally stepped in front of them while they were walking. They don’t, they say ‘excuse me, I’m sorry’ almost instinctively and maybe strike up a conversation if waiting in line.

    Another problem is that the true cost of driving is not realized by drivers. Costs to build, repair and maintain roads, bridges, parking decks, accidents, noise, oil wars, trade reliance, sprawl, pollution to operate, pollution to manufacture and dispose of cars (and increasingly batteries), safety concerns of bikers and pedestrians, reducing space and migration paths for animals, police officers to monitor roadways, parking authority, courts and prisons relating to traffic violations and DUIs, obesity and health costs by allowing people to access just about every inch of the US in their 2 ton lazy-boys.

    While helpful in some situations, we way overuse cars. Cars should be used sparingly to fill a few gaps or for emergencies, not by every single person on a daily basis. Sure, some bikers push back harder than they should and justify riding a little recklessly based on their moral superiority of their chosen mode of transportation knowing the above, but the answer is having drivers pay more of the true costs of driving which well help force for better alternatives, and better separation between cars and bikes. In the meantime, people in cars should relax, appreciate they are being selfish and getting a sweet discount on the costs to society, and give bikers the respect they deserve. Bikers should demand protected lanes, find safer more constructive ways to communicate their frustrations, and stop wearing those dorky hats with the little brims.

  • tom

    I was a commuter biker for 11 years while in my career job. I drove defensively and most importantly stayed within the stripe boundary (bike lane) that is usually on roads here in Arizona. or at minimum stayed clear to the right on the road I was sharing with motor vehicles. now I am in the driver’s seat and daily drive out of mesa, Arizona to the undeveloped sonoran desert to hike with my equine. my beef is the arrogance of road bikers (granted a very minority) who seem to have the attitude that they can ride in the motor vehicle lane with their holier than thou attitude……the road I drive has curves and blind spots, a sudden swerve or sudden braking to avoid an arrogant road biker is disastrous with an equine in the 2 horse stock trailer. with the weight of the equine, the laws of inertia are against the situation……driving/public safety is a 2 way street.

    • Edmond LeBlanc

      Tom, you could come around the curve and have a person walking on the side of the road, a person riding a motorcycle or a car driving slower than you! They are ahead of you and have the right of way and that is why its important to keep your eyes on the road and if you are pulling a trailer adjust your speed for the conditions that are ahead. Making sure to pass only when its safe to do so. Always plan for the worst. But, hey its never your fault right?!

  • WF

    In Idaho and now being considered in Colorado, Cyclists have lobbied to not have to obey stop lights or signs. That mindset is why there is a grudge. The fact that you tried to rationalize it as a mental/personality defect on the motorists part reflects that same mindset. Clean up your own backyard before you use spurious pop psychology to point fingers at everyone else.

  • Frank

    There’s been a long push to get bicyclists off the roadways, it’s well documented here

  • Oskar

    Seems this argument pops up a lot. ”I see bicycles breaking the rules” … therefore it’s okay to buzz a different person on a bicycle you see (who is obeying the rules), shout at them and flip them the bird?

    By that logic I should be able to go up an punch the next human I see in the face, because I just watched a documentary about a murder that took place on the other side of the world? Sure, the next person I bump into isn’t the same person who did the murder, but they’re a person, the murderer is a person … face punch time!

  • Kevin

    As someone who both bikes and drives, I see far more bad traffic behavior from bikers. Running red lights and stop signs to a far greater degree than car drivers. This is especially true in urban settings. There are bikers in urban settings with major attitude. I’m thinking of the “critical mass” Fridays in San Francisco in particular, bikers purposely gridlocking the city and flaunting traffic laws (I’m a former resident and remember this well). There is a subset of urban bikers who think they are a special class because of their fitness or carbon footprint or whatever.

    But in rural settings, the opposite seems to be true. Bikers are largely just trying to survive on the shoulder of the road, and drivers seem occasionally hostile, often for unclear reasons. It does seem that those drivers are more often Bros with pickups who have a bone to pick with the Lycra wearing city folk clogging the shoulder. I live in Colorado now and definitely see this happen.

    We would be better off in both instances with a little more tolerance.

    • Savvy Senior

      Having moved to Boulder 1000 miles by bike, decades ago, I am loathe to commute on one, because both drivers and cyclists are increasingly aggressive, self-absorbed, and belligerent. The new push, to allow riders to proceed through stop signs without a stop, is very poorly conceived and I expect will increase accidents of all types, but most obviously, bike-into-bike collisions! I’ve bared escaped incidents from other riders flying through red lights, actively dodging traffic, but my pet peeve is riders no longer following a century-old courtesy of announcing your presence with an “on your left” or even just a bell ring. Modern hipsters, knowing nothing from cycling club history, sail into parking lots on a fixie, no handed, staring at a cell phone while holding a java in the other hand, ignoring signage, and act outraged should anyone yell at them for nearly hitting a small kid.
      Arrogant self-entitlement is a symptom of our age, and no class or group is immune. The essential difference is, I’ve known half a dozen who suffered permanent brain damage from crashes, another half dozen who died, and all but one or two were hit by cars; a couple notable pedestrian deaths from being hit by a bike in Colorado over forty years pales next to the weekly story of a car-pedestrian incident. Physics, in the form of mass and speed, always wins.

  • gringo

    The comments by Cathy and James sadly reinforce the whole point of the article. Several times both commenters group everyone to ever sit on a bicycle together and give examples of how ‘they’ do this or that wrong.

    THIS is entirely the problem, and reflects on the state of the union currently. Stand together or fall divided.

  • Scott

    When driving and encountering a group ride is most problematic for me. On CO 550 heading south there were 100 or so bicyclists riding north down the hill towards Silverton, there were pockets where people ride 3-4 abreast, taking the entire lane and changing positions at random. That created an impossible situation, bikers crossing the center line, cars going around them and me having to frequently decide if going off the 500’ edge was an option. Group think, tribes, change people’s behavior too often and loose individual responsibility. I can’t imagine ever hitting a person, that would be terrible and hard to live with. That 10 milers may have been the most stressful in my life. We all need to look out for one another

    The car guy in your story is just an idiot and needs therapy!

  • David Butler

    Pretty much every commenter here makes a legitimate point. It’s complicated. What strikes me is that when I’ve ridden in Europe (mostly France) I have not seen or experienced these hostile cyclist-driver interactions. My theory is that in Europe, many roads were build long before cars were invented and were being used by pedestrians, horses, and slow moving vehicles long before cars showed up. Motorists are late to the party and do not the same sense of entitlement that America’s autocentric road system engenders.

  • Squire

    We live in a world of generalizations. Bike riders are bad. Truck drivers are bad. 40% of drivers run stop signs. I’ve spent my life writing tickets, investigating traffic collisions, as a traffic safety professional and serving on traffic commissions. The answers are complex. One truck driver rides our tail and now, “all truckers are horrible drivers.” Well actually for example, the average trash truck driver is on the road each day for ten times the amount (actual statistic) than the average driver but will not crash 10x more or receive the “appropriate” amount of tickets. Yet we all think “truckers” are bad drivers because one guy was a jerk or had a bad day.

    I’m sorry but placing bicycle (and pedestrians) very close to vehicles is a recipe for disaster…I’ve been to many of their autopsies. Having served on traffic commissions where they are constantly developing and funding ways to place bike and cars together I’ll call BS on the article linked above. This is one of the reasons why pedestrian and bicycle fatalities are skyrocketing (along with new ways for all roadway users to be distracted being created daily).

    Simple solution, if you are in a car, respect cyclist (and everyone else) and don’t drive distracted or like an idiot. If you are on a bike, do the same. This means don’t ride on the white line of an 8 foot bike lane and yell at the truck driver because his 8 foot wide vehicle, in a 10 foot wide lane with traffic approaching from the opposite direction didn’t give you 3 feet. Everyone needs to drive defensively. And as a side note, the article lost me at the end when he turned SJW and brought in lynching and shooting unarmed people to this topic…wow.

    • Rob

      And you lost me when you went with the right wing SJW shtick.

  • Gregory

    Hopefully one day I will be able live in the same dreamy America Cathy lives, where all drivers fully stop on stop signs, respect the speed limit, stop for pedestrians to cross the street, use turning signals (whaaaat? is that an optional? I don’t think my cars has!!)….OOO WHAT A DREAM!

  • rick

    This is a good article with a lot of good discussion. Is there a right or wrong side? Absolutely. Like anything else. For the most part people are either “law breakers” or “law abiders.” If you are a law abider, either on the bike or in a car, you will find people who don’t like you. If you are someone who rides or drives recklessly, people will get upset. The people getting upset are not the same in both cases. I do my best to be mindful of my surroundings and make sure others sense that I am aware and doing what I can to be safe and follow the rules of the road. Remember, every person out there is not too different than you. They have hopes and dreams, a family, people who love them and would grieve their loss. Life is too precious to get so upset, especially when driving a 2-ton vehicle… and don’t forget to be kind.

  • Carolyn Krall

    I’d like to agree that this article and many of the comments are about ‘othering’ — but also about ‘entitlement’. I ride horses on multi-use trails, sometimes crossing bike paths, roads and even sidewalks, and I have been subjected to the same anger. Usually from guys in trucks, but also from cyclists and even a cop — three of us on horseback were waiting on the side of the road for an opening to cross and a cop stopped his car right in front of us and yelling that he could have been killed if one of our horses jumped in front of his car (not our idea of a good time either). Clearly he thought he belonged on that road, and we shouldn’t even be trying to cross it. I’ve had cyclists give us the finger — honestly I wish they’d ride on the bike path not the dirt multi-use trail. But I’ve never flipped one off. I do they would call ahead ‘on your left’ when coming up behind me, so I can move over to the right. I’d especially appreciate if they slowed down when passing, since horses are easily spooked by movement and can’t see directly behind. These are generally PUBLIC roads and community trails we are sharing, maybe we could remember that everyone is entitled to be enjoy them.

    • Dan Murphy

      Why can’t cyclists ride on the dirt multi-use trail? Really?
      FWIW, all my encounters with horses in New England have been excellent. There seems to be a fairly good mutual respect for each other. I *always* let them know I’m approaching and wait for an acknowledgement. That’s a big animal and I don’t want someone to get hurt. We’re all out there to enjoy ourselves.

  • JP

    “Maybe if you weren’t so selfish by assuming your little bike trip is more important than than than the destinations of the people you are slowing down ….” Really?? Seems to be a slight double-standard in your close-minded thought process.

    I’m sure 99.9% of us riders don’t “assume” our “little” bike trips, be it for exercise or commuting, are more important than any of the other folks on the road in/on automobiles who might also be commuting or are just out enjoying a drive for the sake of driving. It’s just not how we think (or assume).

    Clearly you see nothing wrong with the individuals of car-clubs or motorcycle-clubs, who get together to also enjoy the roads and sometimes cause a slight inconvenience in travel for the other folks on the road. Or road construction for that matter, which without you wouldn’t have anywhere to drive your little automobile.

    It’s probably not fear in the sense that you may be thinking (as afraid), but your being “annoyed” (angered, aggravated) likely stems from fear in some sense, which you can’t handle and that angers (annoys) you.

    Have you actually stopped to consider how impacted you’re being from/by a rider? I’ll wager your “slow-down” is a lot less than a traffic light or a stop sign creates.

    Don’t forget, a lot of us riders also own an automobile and we too experience everything you do so you’re not alone. No need to be scared!

    Life’s not fair.

  • A. Honda

    I almost got t-boned by a large suv, narrowly missing me, which happens often enough. What was more rare, was the driver drove after me, getting out of the car to exhibit classic road rage. I talked with him reasonably, it didn’t matter who was at fault, the only thing I could do was apologize profusely. He was angry that he almost hit me, that such an accident would have traumatized his child in the car. It didn’t matter to him how physically traumatized I would have been, but I reminded him I had children too, and so he began to relate to me as a person.

    When I told a non-cycling friend what had happened, she said she gets so angry at cyclists for just being on the road and not on the sidewalk. She feels uncomfortable at the risk of an accident, and blames the cyclists just for being there. It reminds me of the American perspective compared to the French, when shown a photo of a bicycle and a Hummer. When Americans perceive danger on the road, they buy a Hummer, and so they view the bicycle as the dangerous vehicle.. I read that the French, on the other hand,recognize the vulnerability of the bike, and perceive Hummers as the dangerous vehicle.

  • David Johnson

    As a commuter by bike, I tend to practice common-sense biking. It is kind of like common-sense driving. Common sense says if the speed limit is 65 mph but the flow of traffic is 72mph, it is best to go 72mph. If it is snowy and everyone is driving 35mph drive 35mph. It amazes how many times drivers call out cyclists for things when in reality they are always speeding. This doesn’t give a cyclist a right to blow a stop sign, but drivers are way too quick to call out cyclists when they are in reality always speeding.

  • CK

    QED on both sides. It’s why I stick to mountain biking.The trees don’t get pissed and if I hit one it’s all on me. I apologize, the tree graciously accepts and we continue our respective existences.

  • Matt

    I think the laws surrounding the issue need to be looked at in greater detail. For example, if you text, run a red light, recklessly speed, and generally ignore traffic laws, you’re kind of an asshole. That goes for BOTH drivers and riders. However, only one of those people can/will get a ticket for the infraction. When’s the last time you saw someone on a bike get pulled over for blowing through a red light? If there’s a cop nearby, a driver will get a ticket every time. If you’re on a bike, it’s 99.9% likely that you won’t. In some cities it isn’t even illegal. That’s bonkers. My thought? If you are on a vehicle that has wheels, you have to obey the exact same rules as every other vehicle, or receive the exact same penalty as other vehicles. I’ve lived in one of the biggest/most bike-friendly cities in the US for the last decade, and I commute by bike most days. Yes, drivers are idiots, but I see an absurd number of idiotic riders too. The number of times I’ve seen someone on a bike trying to blow through a red light and actually hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk, then get pissed because the person walking was “in their way” is insane. If you are on a bike, you are NOT a pedestrian, and therefore you do not have the right of way.
    Both drivers and riders need to take a step back, check their ego at the door, and follow ALL rules of the road. That’ll be a huge step in the right direction, because if you break it down, selfishness and detachment (“I’m not the issue, everyone else is”) is the biggest impediment to fixing this.

  • Gary Jacobson

    A good strategy for cyclists is to display an American flag. There are drivers who wouldn’t dream of doing anything that would hurt the flag. Try it. You’ll see the wide berth you get from vehicles that might otherwise think little of exposing you to danger.

  • Jahn

    In Idaho you can roll through a red light or stop sign if there is no cross traffic. Roll through means you don’t have to put a foot down. That is the law. Being on a motorway is dangerous for everyone, please be aware that the rules of the road apply to everyone. Consider being kind, respectful and humble.

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