View Full Version : What does one say?

05-22-2008, 09:02 PM
So on my way to school today up in Vancouver, I was riding in the daylight with my lights on, on a relatively calm street in the bike lane. SE Village Loop just between Fernwood and McGillivray, for those who are interested.

Without any warning, a dark green Dodge Durango (or similar) came barreling out of an apartment's driveway at full speed without even stopping, coming within a foot of running me over me in the process, despite the fact that I was traveling predictably in the bike line.

I looked at the guy and he seemed to feel at least a bit sorry. But my question is this: What exactly do you say to the person who just came within a foot of seriously injuring you? What can be said quickly but effectively without you coming off as an a-hole?

05-22-2008, 11:23 PM
I really wish that I had an answer for that...

05-23-2008, 08:45 AM
I've been gesturing lately - make eye contact, tap helmet twice (as in THINK), then draw two fingers away from your eyes (as in LOOK).

05-23-2008, 11:04 AM
I like to use a little friendly sarcasm while smiling ridiculously:

Driver pulled from a side street right in front of me... and then proceeded to stop IN THE BIKE LANE forcing me to stop completely!

When it was clear I passed (watching for the door) and looked in her window.

"Thanks a lot!" <Insert ridiculous smile and friendly wave here.>

It helps if you can capture a little Will Ferrell here... "Hey! Thanks-a-lot! 'Preciate it!"

Kinda hard to describe.

Some more tips - folks feel free to add your own or suggest alternatives:

Driver: "What's your problem?"
Response: "Well right now, I guess you are!" (Remember to smile.)

Driver: You should be on the sidewalk!
Response: Too many skateboards!

Driver: You should be on the sidewalk! (Get off the road!)
Response: You should be on a main street! (Get off the side street!)

Driver: Nice tights!
Response: Thanks! Nice love handles! (or toolshed, beer gut, tank top, etc.)

Driver: Get a car!
Response: Get a life!

05-23-2008, 11:53 AM
I think it's important to remind them exactly what just happened:

You: You know you almost just killed me, right?

Driver: Well ... I ...

You: And you know your life would never be the same after that. Killing someone lawfully on the streets with just one moment of inattention....

Driver: Well ... I ...

You: Maybe it's worth obeying the rules and taking just a second to pay attention to what you're doing.

05-23-2008, 05:29 PM
Whatever you do, you if you give him any excuse to be righteously angry, he'll lose the point of the encounter.

You want him to feel bad. A pitying frown and a head-shake sometimes works. Wagging your finger at him like he's a naughty poodle is good.

If he looks properly abashed, you might further shame him by being gracious and polite.


05-23-2008, 09:06 PM
Someone almost kills you, and the most important thing is "don't make him angry"? Really?! My view is just the opposite: Maybe if he realizes that this is a big deal, and not OK, and not just part of daily life driving your motor vehicle around, maybe he'll start to think and maybe he'll start to change his behavior.

05-24-2008, 09:34 AM
My point is that if you make someone angry, they can quickly slip into "righteous indignation", i.e., that they're right and you're wrong. Once that happens, the murderist is guaranteed to learn nothing from the encounter.

Just a thought.

05-24-2008, 09:59 AM
Once that happens, the murderist is guaranteed to learn nothing from the encounter.

Considering that this person just came within a few feet of either killing or seriously injuring you, what is the right amount of anger to have? Obviously, you have every right to be angry, but this may just make the driver even more inconsiderate. One could take the humorous/witty route, but that could easily undermine the fact that the driver was just within a few seconds of taking a life because of his inattentiveness.

What then is the proper balance of the two that will work for getting the point across to the majority of drivers?

05-25-2008, 08:00 AM
For me I make a quick judgement:
-Does the driver look like they understand what they did was wrong and what "could" have happened?

Most of my close calls, the driver either NEVER even noticed I was on the road and almost killed, or noticed it and visibly looked embarrassed and sorry.

If I can alert the driver that had no clue I will in a friendly way. I subscribe to the "just yelling at each other" technique teaches nobody, and makes both sides hate for the other grow.

I may sound crazy, but I really think drivers understand for the most part our rights, and are fearful of hitting us. There are exceptions.

On the other hand. What do you say when a driver goes out of their way to avoid a wreck? Like when a car turning right decides not to take the chance of shooting the gap, and waits patiently for my slow ass to pass through the intersection? I normally give them a thumbs up and a thank you. I think it is really important to show that not all cyclists are egotistic assholes that are looking for a reason to get angry at someone in a car. I wave cars through at stop signs. I get a good feeling seeing the surprise and smile by the drivers. Sometimes I even wave a car through a right turn so they don't have to wait for me.

SHARE the road.

05-25-2008, 08:42 AM
An excellent aside to this thread! I often give motorists a smile and a hand wave when it's clear they've made an effort to avoid killing me. Positive reinforcement, where I acknowledge their presence, is a good thing.

The other thing you mention, waving motorists on, is also important. When I come up to a stop sign, I try scrupulously to observe legal right of way. However, often times motorists are, well, scared of me. Even if I come to a complete stop, they often--heck, usually sit there scared that I will dart in front of them.

It's a sad statement about how many crazy cyclists there must be in that big city to the east of Beaverton that motorists have doubts about my sense of self preservation. (If I ran a red light here in Washington County, I'd be a decoration just like the rusty ski rack and the "support our troops" sticker.)

Thus, I find that both of us end up a lot more comfortable when I wave them on. It reassures them that you see them and that you are going to wait. Remember to use a large hand motion (trick I learned from my American Sign Language background), to make sure they see you gesturing.

Don't forget to signal pedestrians as well. They have even more reason to be scared of you.


On the other hand. What do you say when a driver goes out of their way to avoid a wreck?