The Bike Hugger Facebook page pointed me to an interesting piece today from Jalopnik — it seems that in New Jersey, they’ve outlawed the practice of “rolling coal.” That’s when a big ‘ol, jacked up four-wheel drive pickup passes you while blasting a cloud of black smoke back in your face. It’s about as funny as the jerks who interrupt female TV reporters by yelling a particularly nasty obscenity.
It’s happened to me only once — just about a year ago. I had made the mistake of taking a major state highway to get back to the start of my ride quicker. Even though I was in the clearly-marked bike lane, some pickup-driving doofus decided I shouldn’t be there at all, so he proceeded to demonstrate what his exhausts could do. Luckily for me, it lasted only a couple of seconds. He was soon well ahead, and there was enough of a breeze that day to dissipate the smoke quickly.
Sure, it was already against the law. The EPA has a regulation against it. But the New Jersey legislature wanted to pass its own law just to bring it to everyone’s attention, and hopefully to get the police to enforce the ban more strongly.
Now, if New Jersey can do it — New Jersey, mind you — what say the rest of the states get on the bandwagon? Shut these coal rollers down.
I’ve got a couple of these fools running around the countryside here. Hate it so much, so idiotic. Same people who swerve to hit animals. Bunch of celebratory videos on Youtube, of course 🙁
Mountainstroh (Tony) says
I’ve never seen that out here! I’ve had big gulps thrown at me, but never anything like that
Katie Bradshaw says
I only recently learned the term “coal rolling,” but I’ve had it happen to me several times here in western Nebraska – never huge clouds from purpose-modified trucks, but simply flooring the pedal to flood the engine and belch fumes as they pass. Such a jerkmonkey thing to do!
After reading a philosophy book recently, I’ve decided that the big truck crowd views cyclists as making an environmental statement by cycling, thus implicitly criticizing the big truck crowd for their fuel-guzzling ways. (Nevermind that plenty of cyclists drive big trucks.) As per videos I’ve seen, coal rollers also take pride in hitting electric or hybrid vehicles.
Lawmakers in Illinois and Montana have introduced legislation to specifically target the practice as well, but it didn’t pass, as far as I can tell.
I recently got a bike camera hoping I can capture and shame some of the individuals. (I’m sure they are young people, and I am sure their mothers would not be pleased.) Alas, the camera doesn’t have good enough resolution to capture license plates – only the make/model/color of the truck (which, actually, might be enough to ID the perp in a small town).
These bozoids that are doing this are usually doing it with a diesel powered vehicle by modifying engine components — turbochargers & computerized injection systems — in order to increase the amount of fuel introduced into the cylinders, and/or decrease the amount of air intake into the cylinders; which results in unburnt fuel being expelled through the exhaust; which is the smoke you see blown in your face. This can ultimately damage the engine by over heating, and soot deposits in the engine, so hold your anger and just wait; then ride by your local garage to see if the truck that smoked you is there, and enjoy laughing hysterically as you cruise by.
Also, I don’t know how accurate this is, but a friend from California told me that in CA, if you’re caught rollin’ coal, they impound your vehicle; and if it’s smoking because of intentional modification, and not a mechanical failure, they crush it! Therefore, you cyclist in CA might want to pass by the wrecker yard as well for a really good belly laugh.