Road Rage

18
Oct
2013
Bad-Idea-soozed

Early Saturday morning I had an encounter with an SUV on a stretch of Elston Avenue.  Although Elston has long sections of protected bike lanes, this portion doesn’t have them.  However, it’s a fairly wide street and at that time of the morning, has very little traffic.

You develop a sixth sense riding in the city.  You can often feel the energy of a person or vehicle behind you before you actually see them.  This was one of those occasions.

As I looked over my left shoulder, I saw an SUV floor it to pass between another car and myself.  It’s not exactly one of my favorite things to be passed by a 5,000-pound vehicle at top speed.

The three of us met up at the next red light: the car he passed was in the left-turn lane, he was in the center, and me on the right.  The irony of this was not lost on me or the driver of the other car.

She rolled down her window, and calmly pointed out to him that he did get any further than she had, and questioned why he had done what he did. He was angry, gesturing wildly, and berating her for driving too slow.  To which she replied, while pointing directly at me, “I watch out for bikers and other cars on the road.”

At that point, Mr. SUV ran the red light.

She and I looked at each other, sharing a moment of disbelief.  The light turned green.  She turned left; I proceeded straight ahead.

As I continued along on my ride, I couldn’t help but wonder what makes someone so angry.  There was no traffic, no roadwork, no other obstacles – well, unless you count a car going the speed limit and a cyclist.  I’m so grateful that I don’t have anyone in my life that projects such toxic energy.

I remained silent while we were stopped at the light.  I learned long ago that engaging in dialog with a person who is that angry only makes it worse.  It is impossible to get someone who is behaving irrationally to listen to your point of view – and certainly not in the span of a red light.  More importantly, I didn’t want him to encounter another cyclist three blocks up while angry at me.

I wish that I could produce a PSA about road rage.  It would be a short message:

“Having a rough day?  Think twice before you get in your vehicle and use it as a weapon.

It’s just a bad idea.”

- Suzanne

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15 Responses to “ Road Rage ”

  1. Daniel Christianson on October 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    As a professional driver and someone who is on the roads day in and day out, I constantly encounter those people that are either driving as if they are the only people on the planet or those who are acutely aware of everyone else and choose to view them as just speed bumps on their road of life. I think there will always be these types as its just in their attitude and how they view life in general.
    As far as cycling goes; be aware, be positive, be happy your not in that big of a hurry. This is getting better, its just not happening as quickly as it could. The more people on bikes drivers see the better. They get used to it, its then up to their individual personalities how they are going to react.

    • suzanne deveney on October 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      You don’t have an easy job being out on the roads all the time. I don’t envy you! Hopefully, we can all be more patient.

  2. Charles on October 19, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Take pictures. Call 911

  3. John Metz on October 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

    We had a cyclist killed by a car recently in my area. It appears the driver tried to pass the biker on a narrow road with no shoulder without being able to see if there was a car coming the other direction. Not road rage, just a bad idea by the driver, who may eventually face charges. Maryland has a law that drivers must give bikes 3 feet of clearance when passing but the law is not well publicized yet.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/wp/2013/08/22/driver-error-apparent-cause-of-cyclists-death/

    • suzanne deveney on October 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Sorry to hear that John. Something like this can affect the whole community. I hope someday we can all share the road equally and with greater acceptance. (and have more patience!)

  4. Mike Neifert on October 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Produce the PSA!

    • suzanne deveney on October 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

      Perhaps I’ll look into that. Thanks Mike

  5. Scott White on October 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

    The driver of the SUV was probably already painfully aware that the slower vehicles had caught up – and whatever had him hot under the collar was not getting resolved while he sat at the light… Sometimes folks aren’t angry – they are just in a hurry, a family emergency, late for work, or a meeting – and are frustrated that everyone on the road is “conspiring” to slow them down…

    I had this happen to me last night, I was asked to set something up and when I got there I found out they didn’t have one small but vital piece of the puzzle – so off I went to get what we needed – and it felt like everyone in front of me was just dragging their ass both coming and going. Was I frustrated, yes – was I speeding, no – traffic was just damn slow for some reason, and the clock was ticking…

    So please don’t judge, just be as predictable and safe as you can on there on the road – in your car, on your bike, on foot – and know that when people are having an off day, not being consistent or safe may be what really sends someone over the top…

    Who knows, tomorrow it could be you who’s hot under the collar…

    • suzanne deveney on October 18, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I hear your point of view; thanks for taking time to respond. I do hope I never get that “hot under the collar” though…

  6. Bob Burpee on October 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    At that point the SUV driver is being irrational and any attempt to engage them in a rational discussion is pointless and there is a good chance that you will become a focal point for their anger. That incident was just the trigger for their anger, the source of it lies somewhere else.

    • suzanne deveney on October 18, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Agree with you on this, Bob.

  7. Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Hey Suzanne, you hit my hot spot with this one. What you describe in your post is similar to what I seem to experience each and every day. I honestly do not know what goes on in some people’s heads. I was just going to post on my Facebook page about my “driver education”, so check that out if you can.

    For as long as I can remember, one phrase keeps playing in my head when I see people like this. “Is saving a couple minutes really worth it?”

    We continue the “education” one driver at a time….and just hope it sinks in.

    Darryl

    • suzanne deveney on October 18, 2013 at 11:29 am

      I’ll definitely check that out. Education is key.

  8. Baltazar on October 18, 2013 at 8:11 am

    “She rolled down her window, and calmly pointed out to him that he did
    get any further than she had, and questioned why he had done what he
    did.”

    People just love being told how to drive. What was she expecting? :)

    • suzanne deveney on October 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

      The reason I keep quiet in these situations. He was wrong, but I don’t let encounters such as this ruin my ride. Luckily no one was hurt due to his impatience.

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