Incident with Motorist
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  1. #1
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    Incident with Motorist

    In my 57,000 miles of road cycling, I've never had an incident like the one I just had. I was waiting at a red light to cross route 1 in Danvers where North St intersects with it. I was approximately to the right of where the black car is the attached photo where the red line intersects it. I had pulled up so i wouldn't be blocking people taking the right.

    The light turns green and I proceed to cross. Before I could get completely across a guy in a pick-up truck behind me lays on his horn. I look around and by this time he pulls up to me to scream that bikes aren't allowed on the "highway". First off, bikes ARE allowed on route 1 but I wasn't even traveling on route 1, just crossing it on a comparatively quiet road. I tell him that I have as much right to be on the road as he does.

    He then launches into a verbal tirade at me. He stays even with me as we exchange more pleasantries.

    I proceed on continuing on North St after the intersection. He doesn't drive fast and a car was tailing him because he driving so slowly. I carry on as it becomes Rowley Bridge road. As I get near the top where Hill St goes off to the right, I see that he's pulled over and is out of his car telling me to stop. I ignore him. He shouts after me that I'm a coward. I proceed on Hill St. It isn't long before I see him tailing me. He catches up to me at the top of the next hill. He's still shouting at me out of his window. I tell him to get the F away from me or I'm going to call the police.

    He gets ahead of me and drives slowly so I have to keep braking down this steep hill. He finally takes the left onto Cross St.

    I had memorized his license plate. It was a 5 digit USMC Veteran plate but in my hopped up state, I forgot it before the ride was over. This was near the start of my ride. I had so much adrenaline that I know I didn't give off the appearance of being intimidated. Perhaps I should have been more intimidated than I was but I was already in a less than happy state from work. The expression on my face was one of don't-F-with-me.

    I suppose nothing illegal happened. I don't know. Is it okay legally for a car to keep pulling up to a cyclist and scream/swear at them and then get ahead of them and impede their progress? Is it okay for someone to get out of their car like that?

    The man looked to be in his late sixties with a shaved head. I don't know if he was having a flashback to 'Nam or what. It is SO rare that I have a negative interaction with a motorist. Certainly nothing approaching this. At one point, I almost stopped to call the police because I didn't know what he was going to do next. What if I had footage from a helmet cam?

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  2. #2
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    not to be unsympathetic, but this is a pretty meh incident...I get something similar probably about every 1,000 miles.

    the latest was a gentleman with 'small man's disease' riding an obnoxiously loud Harley. I doing about 25 mph in an auto lane preparing to turn left at a light...the biker dude went absolutely ballistic on me, did a brush-by pass, revved his engine, and then brake checked me hard.

    like you, I got a full charge of adrenaline from his stupid antics and pulled up next to him at the red light...confronted him with 'wtf was that about?'...first he denied doing anything, then he launched into a tirade of me not being in the 'bike lane,' not signaling, yadda yadda yadda...

    instead of arguing traffic ordinances with the pea-brain I simply said 'ah, I get it now, you just need an excuse to be a dick to someone on a bicycle, glad you find one'...

    douchebags are everywhere, it sucks when your path intersects theirs.
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  3. #3
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    Recently I had a situation where someone honked, close passed and yelled at me to get the F off the road before dawn on a road with zero traffic in town. Pulled over and called the police - I only had a partial plate but gave them that and a car description. Within a couple minutes I had a police officer following me for the next few miles then saw several along the 4 or 5 miles heading home parked on my route.

    My opinion, regardless of there being something unlawful that happens, call the police. These are the type of people that need to have their behavior documented and confronted. I appreciate the local police watching out for me that morning just in case the jerk returned.
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  4. #4
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    I have had one near altercation in thousands and thousands of miles and I was nearly as at fault as the driver. Similarly, I was first to a light at a very awkward and narrow arm of an intersection. I looked over my shoulder at the pickup pulling behind me and I see him put his right signal on. I start rolling myself back so he can make his right on red. As Im rolling myself backward the light turns green. I was in a weird position at a bad intersection (kinda hard to explain). I said, audibly, oh sh!t when the light changed. I was next to his passenger side open window. He yells, what did you say! I said in response, accurately, oh sh!t! He takes offense, stomps on the gas, goes into the turn and slams on his brakes. He jumps out of the truck and approaches me. I unclipped and threw my bike onto the lawn to my right and sprinted at him looking for blood. Thankfully, he ran away and sped off. My reaction still upsets me. I had lost a 20 year old nephew I was very close with in a motorcycle accident the day before. I lost control. He saw it. It was ugly. Ive never before or after... All of that pain and anger and F the world got pointed at this guy. I dont even know why he pulled over? I had a guy nearly hit me pulling out from a stop sign and he pulled over, Im expecting an asshat, and he jumps out of the car to apologize! He said he mis judged the distance and even said that could have killed me. He was clearly struggling with the incident. I simply said, Thanks, no worries, man and rode on.
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    Last edited by bvber; 08-08-2019 at 05:50 PM.

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    The driver could have been charged with harassment, but without evidence or witnesses, it's going to be a he said/she said and there likely won't be any charges against the driver.

    Yes; a bike camera would have helped. But your responding in-kind to his mouth would have been against you. I know it's hard, but you HAVE to remain composed in these situations otherwise it's perceived as you being part of the escalation. It's pointless to argue the law with these types. The only person they would believe is a police officer.

    To me, calling the PD is useless without a full license plate AND a description of the driver. That's why when I ride, I play a game of reading license plates. Not all of them, mind you, but enough that I tend to automatically read those of potentially conflicting drivers. Reciting a driver's license plate number back to the driver and then telling the driver you're calling the police can do wonders to de-escalate the driver's hostility. They tend to leave the scene quickly.

    57k miles and this is your first encounter? Poseur!

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    If they want to start something, I have some Sabre pepper gel ready. Other than that, record it and post it online for the whole world to see. If nothing can be done now, you'll at least have a record for posterity. KCPD wouldn't do anything about the guy in the video below, but now he's a target in the local area.



    I'll also say this: Some might consider this tactic "dirty", but if you happen to learn the identity of someone who goes out of their way to harass you, post their name and any publicly available social media they have (FB, LinkedIn) in your video. People who have the audacity to attack others simply because use another form of transportation only learn when they get hit really hard (i.e. loss of employment). I have no sympathy for these types of people, and neither should you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    The driver could have been charged with harassment, but without evidence or witnesses, it's going to be a he said/she said and there likely won't be any charges against the driver.

    Yes; a bike camera would have helped. But your responding in-kind to his mouth would have been against you. I know it's hard, but you HAVE to remain composed in these situations otherwise it's perceived as you being part of the escalation. It's pointless to argue the law with these types. The only person they would believe is a police officer.

    To me, calling the PD is useless without a full license plate AND a description of the driver. That's why when I ride, I play a game of reading license plates. Not all of them, mind you, but enough that I tend to automatically read those of potentially conflicting drivers. Reciting a driver's license plate number back to the driver and then telling the driver you're calling the police can do wonders to de-escalate the driver's hostility. They tend to leave the scene quickly.

    57k miles and this is your first encounter? Poseur!
    I'm another that will respond to an asshat with his license plate #. They don't usually catch it the 1st time, but after hearing the number a coupla few times it sinks in and off they go.
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  9. #9
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    So sad. You just never know when some idiot is going to try to ruin your day. First line of defense for me: make a quick exit. No yelling, no banging on his window, no trash talk. Just exit. Get out of his grasp. If he follows, go someplace he can't, like on the sidewalk. If on a country road, slow way down. If he slows too, trying to block you, sprint around the MFer. Survival is cat and mouse. I'm the mouse.

    I may not have 300 horsepower, but superior mobility and handling capabilities. I can do anything balanced on my 21# bike, spin circles around his dinosaur. He's very limited. He can't really use it as a weapon, so he parks up ahead and gets out, ready to fight on foot. Fighting requires dismounting. Never dismount. The bike is your means of flight.

    IME, failing to get into an argument always leads to the best outcome.

    Have to agree, approaching a left faster than the flow of traffic at 25 mph might leave hand signals irrelevant, assuming the way is clear. Nonetheless, it would have given this motorcyclist one less thing to judge cyclists on. Motorists generally appreciate hand signals so they know how to avoid hitting a guy with no protection on a 21# bicycle. Courteous but authoritative hand gestures send out the right signal that you're not an arrogant biker who "thinks he owns the road."

    If you ARE an arrogant biker claiming ownership of the road, don't stick around when some motorist challenges your game. Get the hell out of there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Recently I had a situation where someone honked, close passed and yelled at me to get the F off the road before dawn on a road with zero traffic in town. Pulled over and called the police - I only had a partial plate but gave them that and a car description. Within a couple minutes I had a police officer following me for the next few miles then saw several along the 4 or 5 miles heading home parked on my route.

    My opinion, regardless of there being something unlawful that happens, call the police. These are the type of people that need to have their behavior documented and confronted. I appreciate the local police watching out for me that morning just in case the jerk returned.
    I was thinking the same thing. Even if no charges could be pressed, I would think some kind of record would be made so that if future complaints come in, something might eventually be done. That's nice that the police were so supportive in your case.
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  11. #11
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    I'm trying to tone down my violent responses to ******** motorists. Historically, I'm that guy who will sprint after the aggressive driver - hoping to catch him at a red light. I've been lucky... haven't been shot or run over. Yeah, I know... my luck WILL run out - hence the toning it down.

    I've found the "You're currently being filmed - keep talking!" tactic works really well. Expect to hear "I DON'T %*#&ING CARE - FILM ALL YA WANT!" as they drive away - ending the discussion.

    Oh, I don't have a camera. These red Dodge truck (yeah, #1 on the list of likely to be aggressive) driving ********s can't tell the difference in a Cygolite and a camera, so just point at it and aim the bars at him. It's funny how well it works.

  12. #12
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    I reported the incident to my local cycling club's Facebook page. It turns out that at least four of them also had experiences with this same guy. If he had been reported previously, maybe it would have stopped by now. We've all agreed to be on the watch and get his plate next time.
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  13. #13
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    op, that happened to me once, but it was another cyclist doing that. he was really angry i ran a red light with no traffic around ... well, except for him stopped at the light. i couldn't rid him. i tried to change my route, but he kept on tailing me and verbally abusing me. it was really fcked up.

    later i dreamt of killing him and his entire family. that felt good.
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    I worry far more about the distracted drivers that don't see me than the ones that see me but are annoyed by my existence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB176 View Post
    I reported the incident to my local cycling club's Facebook page. It turns out that at least four of them also had experiences with this same guy. If he had been reported previously, maybe it would have stopped by now. We've all agreed to be on the watch and get his plate next time.
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    So, as to the original post: What if the OP had sprayed the guy with pepper gel when he got out of the truck to confront him? Or when the guy was alongside him while riding? Any attorneys here have any thoughts on this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    So, as to the original post: ... here have any thoughts on this?
    Even if the driver gets out of the vehicle, there's no cause to pepper spray him. As long as the driver is just trash talkin', there's no reason for self-defense. And the legal defense is going to argue, "why didn't you try to separate yourself from him (leave)? The defense would try to make it appear the OP was looking for a fight. The OP would need a lawyer to tell him to claim a "fight or flight" response, which might not be a strong enough argument. The threat of bodily harm has to be imminent, with little or no way to avoid or escape.

    Displaying the pepper spray may cause the driver to merely escalate his trash talk and call the cyclist a *****, but it's possible it would cause the driver to back down.

    I call cellphones "the new gun of the west". Even pretending (maybe you can't activate the feature on your phone fast enough, so you fake it) to video or photograph antagonistic drivers is usually enough to get them to back down or leave the scene.

    I finally watched the youtube video above. What I'm amazed at is, the driver got pissed just because the cyclist whistled to increase the driver's awareness of his presence. That made no sense to me; was it really that offensive or did I misunderstand that encounter?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Even if the driver gets out of the vehicle, there's no cause to pepper spray him. As long as the driver is just trash talkin', there's no reason for self-defense.
    If a motorist goes out of their way to 1) stop when they had no valid reason and 2) leave the protection of their metal cage, they're not doing so just to talk. To most reasonable cyclists that's an immediate signal the motorist wants to start something.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    And the legal defense is going to argue, "why didn't you try to separate yourself from him (leave)? The defense would try to make it appear the OP was looking for a fight.
    You're asking why a cyclist wouldn't try to escape from a motor vehicle that can outrun them in seconds? All the motorist has to do is hop back in his/her vehicle and pound the gas pedal.


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    The OP would need a lawyer to tell him to claim a "fight or flight" response, which might not be a strong enough argument. The threat of bodily harm has to be imminent, with little or no way to avoid or escape.
    Given the aforementioned reasons I just listed, it would indeed be a fight-or-flight response with reasonable perception of imminent harm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    So, as to the original post: What if the OP had sprayed the guy with pepper gel when he got out of the truck to confront him? Or when the guy was alongside him while riding? Any attorneys here have any thoughts on this?
    Trying to spray him while riding alongside wouldn't be a good idea because we're talking about firing off an accurate stream from one moving object to another.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Even if the driver gets out of the vehicle, there's no cause to pepper spray him. As long as the driver is just trash talkin', there's no reason for self-defense. And the legal defense is going to argue, "why didn't you try to separate yourself from him (leave)? The defense would try to make it appear the OP was looking for a fight. The OP would need a lawyer to tell him to claim a "fight or flight" response, which might not be a strong enough argument. The threat of bodily harm has to be imminent, with little or no way to avoid or escape.
    I think SauronHimself's response pretty much nailed it. You [sic] don't turn around and go chasing a cyclist 6/10 of a mile and prevent them from making their left turn just because you want to have a chat. If you step out of your vehicle after all that, you're there to fight. As the motorist, you're the one in the vehicle that outweighs the other vehicle by an order of magnitude and can also go much faster than a bike. It is low hanging fruit to simply pass by the cyclist and say nothing, so if you shirk a ton of opportunities to play nice, don't cry to the police when the cyclist feels endangered by you stepping out of your truck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    Displaying the pepper spray may cause the driver to merely escalate his trash talk and call the cyclist a *****, but it's possible it would cause the driver to back down.
    I don't display it. I keep it in my jersey pocket with only the belt clip visible, so it's impossible to tell what it is. Brandishing it while the motorist is still in their vehicle would be just as bad as openly carrying a pistol, because then all the motorist has to do is run over me. I will use it if they exit their vehicle and relinquish the physical advantage they previously had.

  20. #20
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    pepper spraying someone while they're operating a motor vehicle is probably a really bad idea.

    if the driver loses control, crashes/hits someone, causes injuries/damages property, etc the cyclist is likely to be liable.
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    So......any recommendations as to the best pepper spray for cyclists? I run into hotheads more than I used to, and I'd like to have a bit more protection than a frame pump can give me....
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    So......any recommendations as to the best pepper spray for cyclists? I run into hotheads more than I used to, and I'd like to have a bit more protection than a frame pump can give me....
    This is what I bought: https://www.amazon.com/SABRE-RED-Pep...ct_top?ie=UTF8

    Use gel over spray as it doesn't atomize or get carried by the wind easily.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
    This is what I bought: https://www.amazon.com/SABRE-RED-Pep...ct_top?ie=UTF8

    Use gel over spray as it doesn't atomize or get carried by the wind easily.
    I carry that on the mtb for dogs. I really dont think itll do much to an aggressive dog or an aggressive driver. How often do you practice with it? Does it expire? Does actually do anything even if your one in a hundred chance actually works?
    To date, philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JW Fas View Post
    This is what I bought: https://www.amazon.com/SABRE-RED-Pep...ct_top?ie=UTF8

    Use gel over spray as it doesn't atomize or get carried by the wind easily.
    Note to self; keep automobile windows closed when passing a lunatic cyclist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    I carry that on the mtb for dogs. I really dont think itll do much to an aggressive dog or an aggressive driver. How often do you practice with it? Does it expire? Does actually do anything even if your one in a hundred chance actually works?
    The Amazon specs and reviews answer your questions.
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