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Slapping of car leads to road rage incident in North Portland

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(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Vancouver resident Don Joling claims he got an unwanted surprise after he slapped the body of a car on North Interstate Avenue this morning. The person in the car became enraged and, according to Joling, it almost led to a shooting.

Here’s what Joling just posted to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list:

I almost got shot on the way home. Literally. I was rolling down Interstate between New Seasons and Fred Meyer and some car came over almost putting me in the sidewalk, so I slapped the rear quarter panel just hard enough to get his attention.

So at the next stop light, at Fred Meyer, I’m que’d [sic] up with a couple other cyclists, and he comes up on my right, and goes ballistic. Tells me that he’s got a gun and is going to shoot me in the leg. I stay super calm, not reacting at all. I tell him I was just letting him know he almost hit me. I can see in his car and the glove box is open with his hand in it. He settles down a little telling me he rides too, but I’m lucky I didn’t dent his car (he had gotten out to look apparently). A couple more standard issue cuss words (ya I’d say them, but trying to keep this family friendly) from him and we went our separate ways.”

Joling said the car is a mid-2000’s VW wagon with Washington plates.

The timing of this incident is very interesting. Just yesterday, a similar road rage story from Seattle caught our attention. In that story, a woman in a car “pulled a stun gun out of her bra” and attacked a man walking across a crosswalk. The man yelled at the woman and kicked her wheel because he felt she came too close to him. (Note that police and media reports claim the man was a “bike messenger” but in a comment on Seattle Bike Blog the messenger himself says he was actually walking in the crosswalk at the time.) The Oregonian then picked up the story and wrote a blog post titled, Pregnant woman vs. bike messenger in Seattle: One more reason why cyclists slapping, kicking cars isn’t smart.

The issue sparks debate because people have different ideas about who’s at fault. There are those who feel it’s never excusable for someone to slap another person’s vehicle and that if road rage results than the person had it coming. Then there are others who feel that sometimes, when you’re vulnerable on the road (not in a car), slapping the car is the only way to warn the driver of your presence. Of course, there are times when the slapping goes overboard and is accompanied by obscenities and other mean things (like spitting).

From my experience, everyone tends to overreact a bit out on the road when they feel threatened. It’s not a pretty sight; but the more you’re aware of how your emotions can get the better of you, the better off you’ll be in these situations.

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