Subscriber Post - This post was written by a subscriber.
Want to subscribe? Learn More »

Why I yell at you (drivers)

Subscriber Post by mh on January 20th, 2016 at 9:25 am

I keep having these confrontations where a driver slows but does not stop, and heads at’ me. At least it seems to my hyper-vigilant paranoid commuting-in-traffic persona that they either don’t see me.

Previous one was a driver who was either intending to cross SE Salmon or turn east on it. Stop sign on the cross street, none on Salmon. He rolled the stop and I screamed at him, horn blaring. He chased me down the street to the next stop sign, and asked “What are you yelling about? I stopped.” Rolling stop. We like to think they constitute a stop (I stopped pedaling – that means I stopped) and drivers do, too. I think he honestly thought he’d stopped, and he could not see that my perception was appropriate to my vulnerability.

Today’s was someone turning onto Salmon as I was in the intersection. This one I chased down at Hawthorne. “Did you see me? Are you trying to terrify me?” Answer: “I gave you a good 10′.”

How can we make “cagers” understand that even though they know they’re not going to run over us, we can’t even be certain they see us? Am I supposed to be able to ascertain the behavioral difference between “I saw you and wasn’t going to knock you onto the road” and “I never saw you and you’re lucky I didn’t run you over”?

mh

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

9 Comments
  • Avatar
    mh January 20, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Can I edit this thing? Eeeek.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      soren January 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      I chased someone down who pulled out in front of me on SW 4th and called them an idiot. I try not to lose my cool but it happens.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Peejay January 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    This is exactly how I feel. I’ve tried using “You really scared me there”, but a typical response is “That’s not my concern”, or “I don’t care.” I honestly don’t know how to turn on the empathy switch on these people, and if someone doesn’t have empathy, they should not be driving.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      B. Carfree January 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Unfortunately, if someone has empathy, they probably either don’t drive or do it much less than average. The field, er, road, is stacked with the wrong sort of players.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Spiffy January 27, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      there’s no way to make people care…

      you can only cause them an inconvenience with a court appearance and fine to make them pay attention…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kyle January 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    It’s rarely a good idea to yell because that puts most people in fight or flight mode that doesn’t allow them to receive a useful message.

    It’s also not realistic to expect a lot of drivers to care about us. However, they care about getting where they’re going as efficiently as they can and if cyclists can’t tell what they’re up to, we sometimes have to slow things down when it shouldn’t be necessary. That’s bad for everyone.

    My motto is to ride like everyone is trying to kill you all the time, but don’t take it personally. It makes the ride a lot more pleasant and safer to boot.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      9watts February 1, 2016 at 8:01 am

      Good points all around. But in the vein of de-escalating this a tiny bit I’d be tempted to rephrase:
      “My motto is to ride like everyone is trying to kill you all the time, but don’t take it personally.”
      as
      “My motto is to ride like anyone might be paying far less attention than the situation warrants, and to pay special attention at intersections.”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Tacoma January 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    The aspect of these interactions that I find interesting is that when car drivers are at a stop sign but they let their cars keep rolling (i.e. the tires keep moving), a bike driver is thinking just what you describe – ‘[How do I] ascertain the behavioral difference between “I saw you and wasn’t going to knock you onto the road” or “I never saw you and you’re lucky I didn’t run you over”?’. You’ve described exactly my thought/feeling when that occurs. I understand it works both ways, meaning that bike drivers will let their bikes roll at stop signs also, so I wonder how we get people to understand each other’s perspective.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    steve January 28, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    There is no answer. Just do the usual vigilance that we should do as little bike riders – watch, make eye contact, assess, anticipate. Avoid putting yourself in “surprisable” situations. It’s kind of like what we would like police to do before shooting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar