Here's a quick and dirty poll for you all. You're riding your bike a couple of feet from the curb on a standard 14-foot lane with moderate traffic. A motorist driving a tan Volvo with John Kerry bumper sticker breeezes by you with inches to spare. You have a thought about the driver of this vehicle. Which is it?
A. He tried to kill me! That cager tried to kill me! It's a good thing I have my mirror so I had time to ditch into the gutter at the last minute.
B. The cager intentionally harassed me by manuevering as close to me as possible. He did it on purpose to scare me. I'm calling the cops. I demand justice!
C. Obliviot needs to watch where he's going.
D. No harm, no foul. A car passed me. The rest of you all are a bunch of wimps. Except Bob (response A): You're just paranoid.
E. Other (specify in your comment).
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almost always stupidity.
I actually play a game with myself when I'm riding around San Francisco called "Drunk or Stupid". Try to figure out which is the cause of the behavior you see.
A more realistic game would probably be "cell phone or stupid", but it doesn't sound as good.
E. It used to be "I shall confront every motorist who wrongs me" but I realized tha it was only raising my blood pressure. Most people are oblivious.
Unless they are teenagers in a Honda with a coffee can muffler or meshbacks in a F-150 pickup who are yelling shit out the window and throwing things at me I just figure that they just have their head up their ass.
Case in point: Last weekend's group ride. One other guy and I are a little off the front. We pass a housing development where the street joins the much larger road we are riding on. A car just rolls through the stop sign, almost t-boning me. I don't flip them off, but I give them the 'thumb and forefinger together shaking whatsamattau' gesture. They are a young Asian couple who are apologizing profusely. They were morons, not malicious.
I think most people are oblivious and are so far removed from physical activity that they forget or can't concieve what riding a bicycle in heavy traffic is like. My friend was a close passer until I made him ride my bicycle in the street.
I take the same stand point as spinner. If people are passing me too close I widen my distance from the gutter, but to a certain limit and only in heavy traffic... I might be a prick for doing so, but if feels safer to me.
Like Fixedgear mentioned, I used to always sprint like crazy and try to confront motorist like that. Usually their initial reaction was enough to tell whether or not the act was intentional. Now I usually just assume they are not paying enough attention to their surroundings and remind myself that I need to work harder on driver education and cycling advocacy issues. In some ways, inattentive drivers are scarier that the blatantly aggressive ones. At least the ones who are yelling or gesturing are aware that you are on the road.
I watched in amazement (horror?) as one of my riding buddies and a guy in a SUV screamed threats at each other one evening a few years back. They guy had his kids in the car with him. They watched and listened to every bit of the ugliness.
I couldn't help but wonder if he screamed at his kids like that when they rode their bikes around the neighborhood.
If someone buzzed by my handlebars when I was passing the Baptist Retirement Village, I'd probably just blow it off. Some of the elderly drive as if their car were on rails. Dunno why.
If the pass were accompanied by a long horn blast, I may give the one-fingered salute or just wave, depending on my mood.
But I'm not going to think that the driver is 'out to get me'. I'm not paranoid, and besides, I've actually worked with sociopaths and psychopaths in a hospital setting. Murderous, malevolent people intent on taking human life are very rare, fortunately for all of us. Cyclists are more at risk from inattentive drivers and I don't think the presence or absence of a magic paint stripe denoting a bike lane will much effect. We keep harping on the simple fact that most crashes occur at intersections and involve crossing or turning movements.
E. Since said driver is ultimately rushing to get to the light a few feet ahead, I think the one thing that keeps me sane on a road full of morons and maniacs: "Hurry up and wait!" Then I proceed to get in between the car and the light and proudly trackstand.