What Will You Tell Her?
This post is in response to the increasing hostility I have encountered lately while riding west of our fair city. Today while out on a group ride, a truck travelling in the oncoming lane intentionally swerved into our lane, then gave us the finger. Over the last number of years, we have been repeatedly (and increasingly) threatened, honked at, and yelled at by people who think nothing of using their vehicles as weapons. The traffic in these areas is light, and cyclists make up a minuscule fraction of the ‘obstacles’ on the road. If this aggressive, entitled, and ignorant behaviour doesn’t stop, I guarantee it is only a matter of time before a cyclist gets killed. While I hate to generalize, I have seen enough incidents to say that the majority of our aggressive encounters have been with males, 40-70 years old, driving trucks. I can’t help but try to imagine what these men (and I use the term loosely) are like when they go home to their families.
Her: Grandpa, Granny told me that today you hit a cyclist with your truck and that she might die.
Him: That’s right Sweety. I put a couple of other ones in the hospital too.
Her: Why did you hit them Grandpa?
Him: Well you see, Grandpa has a big truck and likes to drive fast. If I have to slow down a little bit, or wait to pass a bunch of cyclists, that makes me very, very angry.
Her: Will you go to jail if she dies?
Him: (laughing) No, honey, of course not. You see, she was riding BESIDE someone and that’s not allowed because then people in cars have to slow down or pass them. That can take five seconds sometimes. She was breaking the rules, so it was her fault that I hit her.
Her: Oh, that’s good. But don’t you have to slow down for other things? Like other cars, or people out walking, or tractors and things?
Him: Yes, but it’s not the same thing. Those aren’t bikes and they are allowed to be on the road. Those people pay taxes. Cyclists don’t.
Hey honey, it’s such a nice day outside, you should go ride your bike or something.
Her: No, that’s ok Grandpa. I think I’ll stay inside.
Ah. This is good. It’s really disappointing and scary to see grown adults acting like irrational, vindictive children on the road.
Thanks Andrea. Unfortunately, you are likely to be correct. My daily commute is fraught with similar incidents. I have asked why they do what they do and the response is usually – why don’t I get out of my truck to discuss this? and then the single finger salute. sigh – why?………
There seems to be so much hostility towards cyclists that I am almost ready to stop road riding. I have already been hit (and left for dead) but hate to give up. However, vehicle vs. cycle never has a good outcome. Still think that everyone should ride a bicycle for several months before being allowed to drive a vehicle. Pedestrians also have a rough time – nobody even wants to stop to let you walk across an intersection. Help! I am becoming increasingly hostile towards drivers.
It’s not just on group rides. I’m verbally abused for daring to be on the road nearly daily.
There needs to be a comprehensive section in the driver’s education program on how to drive around cyclists and a massive public awareness campaign because so many motorists just don’t know the rules.
Of course, it would help if cyclists followed the rules as well…
So familiar, here in Portland which is a “Bike Friendly” city the same refrain. Certain sections of the burbs, middle aged stupid white males get off on terrorizing cyclists.
Just the other day an article in the local fish wrap told the story of a cyclist who had a truck emit some noxious smoke from his tail pipe… he drove directly in-front of them and turned on this kit he installed on his behemoth truck emits this foul smoke… The police are calling this assault since it could have resulted in an accident. The devise is apparently well know to the fools who enjoy this stupid prank.. also a new term (for me) “rolling coal” same concept but from a standard diesel truck..
keep on cycling!
I’ve had it good (touch wood) for a year or so riding north of the city. Before I had all sorts of ass hattery, including but not limited to throwing beer bottles at me from passing car or trying to shoot me with a paintball gun, but last little while, no problems (touch wood again).
Maybe it’s just that I’m a fat 5′ -11″ guy with a beer gut so the pick-up drivers can relate. Soccer shuttles still scare the crap ot of me.
TOTALLY AGREE !
Why do motorists insist on being such idiots toward cyclists? I’ve experienced some pretty irresponsible driving along Henderson Hwy to Lockport. One twerp even swung open the passenger-side door as they passed me. What the eff ?
Maybe the rear-mounted video camera in this hilarious commercial might deter them…
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