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Cyclists need to know how to deal with road rage

Ride your bike long enough, and you’re going to encounter road rage. It’s just a sad reality in modern times. Some drivers do not like cyclists. They feel like the two groups — cyclists and drivers — are opposed to one another.

It’s a flawed position, of course. We’re all just people. These are just different means of transportation. Both can co-exist. However, when drivers do not think that way, it can turn into road rage, and that can become very dangerous for cyclists.

How it happens

It looks different in different cases, of course, but most cyclists know how it can happen. For instance, one cyclist was riding with visitors from Germany when a truck passed them, dangerously close, and then the driver made a crude gesture out the window. The German riders, unused to that in their own country, felt confused. The American, however, told them that drivers had:

  • Flipped him off
  • Thrown beer bottles at him
  • Cursed out the window
  • Swerved toward him
  • Spit at him
  • Yelled at him to “Get a job!”

This last incident was very confusing to him, as riding a bike does not mean someone doesn’t have a job and it’s unclear why anyone would think so. But it happened. It proves that road rage takes many forms.

What should you do?

So, say you find yourself in an encounter with an aggressive motorist. It can put you at risk. It can lead to violent, dangerous actions. It can even lead to fatal accidents. To protect yourself, you should:

  • Always follow the law.
  • Try to diffuse the situation, rather than escalating it.
  • Never let your own anger take over, even when it’s justified.
  • Try to remove yourself, physically, from the encounter. For instance, you may want to ride off of the street, down the sidewalk, and onto another street. Just leave the other person and their car behind.
  • Never stop to engage someone who stops their car and gets out.
  • Look around for witnesses.
  • Wear a camera on your helmet or put one on your bike.
  • Report any road rage incidents to the police.

If the driver does stop and you cannot leave for some reason, experts note that it is best to stand behind your bike. Use it as a barrier. Then take out your phone and call 911. Just the threat of police action often ends a situation.

Focusing on safety

The goal is not to get caught up in who “won” the encounter. Just try to keep yourself safe and put an end to it as fast as you can. If you are injured due to a driver’s unsafe actions, make sure you know what legal options you have in California.