Road rage is a serious problem for cyclists. If you’ve ridden any amount of time, you’ve certainly experienced the extra loud horn, the close pass, the over-revved engine, shouts, and the hand gestures.
And at the same time you’ve probably thought, “What the F***?!? I wasn’t doing anything. Jerk.”
Where does the road rage come from?
Well, I saw them today. From the perspective of a driver. The reason for all the road rage.
I was driving through my small town today, which is itself a small slice of cycling heaven. Lots of cyclists start here or ride through here. I often get groups of 30 riders coming past my house on big club rides, and there are endless solo or pairs coming through all the time.
The roads are narrow, there are few painted lines even, blind corners and hills, and there are no sidewalks. Just road and soft shoulders. It’s a place where drivers and cyclists truly need to co-exist.
There’s one particular fun hill to climb and descend. It’s about a half mile up and another half down. The downs end at stop signs.
I was driving my kids to camp this morning heading up this hill as I approached a line of three cars stuck behind a group of four cyclists, and I quickly caught up. The car in front couldn’t pass because the group was pretty well oblivious to the fact that there were cars lining up behind them. They were attacking the hill, standing, riding hard, bikes jerking back and forth as happens in a sprint, passing each other erratically as in a race. It was pretty well impossible to pass safely, or at least comfortably, in a car even though they were going well under the speed limit up this hill.
They reached the top of the hill, still without allowing anyone to pass, and bombed down the descent, pulling ahead of the cars. (No problem with that part.)
Until they reached the bottom, where they took a left turn at a 4-way stop at full speed. In full view of at least 4 motorists who are already watching closely and shaking their heads at these guys.
Inconsiderate and reckless. And damaging to the entire cycling community.
Now these guys are serious cyclists. They know what they’re doing. They all wore the kit from a local racing club.
They are too serious, apparently, to care.
I’m no stickler for traffic rules on the bike. I’ll run stop signs, but certainly not without slowing down, and only if I can see that there’s no cars around, or at least if there are, if I have eye contact of a driver who is letting me go through. And I’ll wave thanks.
And if I’m at all in view of motorists, I’m much more careful about how I behave. Because I know that they’re watching and judging.
Does this make me any better than these guys? I don’t know.
How we behave affects all of us.
So in the comments, I got called names by another cycling blogger about this post.
Here’s the intersection. The guys came through here at at least 20mph and took that blind left at speed.
It’s a 4-way stop sign. So it’s pretty safe to assume that all cars will stop. But that’s not really the point. There’s also the law that cyclists should stop just like cars. That’s also not really the point. I roll through stop signs all the time.
This was just a reckless display. that gives us all a bad rap.
That is what I tell folks on our morning rides: “For us, every ride is an awareness ride. Let’s be considerate of other road users and let’s set a good example as we follow the laws of the road.”
I hear what your saying. I’m up in Shelby Co. TX. right now — very rural & not many cyclist. Three days ago I was head to town in the truck, and just as I topped one of the hills on HWY 87, there was a guy walking his bike up the hill, on my side of the road, right in the middle of my lane! Talk about cranking up the old cardiovascular system. If I had been one of those crazy oil field workers driving a mud truck, folks would have been reading about him in the paper. There’s no shoulder & the speed limit is 70 (to darn fast on that pig trail, if you ask me), but there’s plenty of rite of way, and no deep ditches — gezz dude walk in the grass!
My interactions with drivers in Jefferson Co., where I do most of my riding, has mostly been amiable. They seem to understand that you are vulnerable, and try to cut you some slack, but I certainly do not try to get on their nerves. However, I learned of an incident that occurred during the cycling event I participated in a few weeks ago. Some punk in a pick-up truck was screaming and cursing at riders on the 100 mile course, saying they had no right to be on the road. The guy who relayed this to me had a GoPro, and this event was sponsored by the Jefferson Co. Bar Association, so maybe this person in the truck will receive a detailed explanation of the rights of cyclist.
As far as the riders you saw on the hill; I don’t know about how it goes in your neck of the woods, but in Texas the DPS has a little check box on their ticket books that says “contest for speed/exhibition of speed”. That sure sounds like what you described; plus a few more check boxes. They had better watch it. No telling when a frustrated driver with a cell phone might drop a dime on them.
Those riders, really have no excuse for the behavior. In Tucson, they can and will cite any cyclist that violates the law. They consider cyclists to be a moving vehicle. That goes for any type of traffic enforcement, stop signs, traffic lights, yield. Anything.
BUT.. we all know group mentality and it sounds like they executed poor judgement, were in the heat of the moment. Maybe next time a “pack” goes through, there might just be a deputy or a police officer waiting there.
Sharing the road, also goes both ways …
Tal F says
Wow, seriously, I did not expect to read this sort of anti-bike tripe on a cycling blog! Sheesh, is it really that hard to slow down? And if no one was hurt or had to make any sudden stops at that stop sign, then I really don’t see why what they did is so wrong. As a cyclist you should know how hard it is to regain all that momentum lost to braking. Besides, if they made a turn they obviously weren’t going “full speed” or they’d fall off their bikes.
I am officially unsubscribing from this blog.
Scott Jangro says
I don’t see anything anti-bike about calling out bad behavior. But you don’t have to agree.
Anyway, that’s a good policy, Tal, don’t ever read anything you disagree with.
Scott Jangro says
I updated the post with a picture. You make the call.
Tal F says
First, let me say that I appreciate your response in the updated blog post.
Now, the reason I am responding so many months later is because I really did unsubscribe. I occasionally check where people are coming to my blog from, and it looks like some people came over to my blog from this post, so I decided to peek in and see it again.
The behavior you describe is virtually an every day occurrence in my neck of the woods, yet hardly anyone ever dies from a cyclist executing a “reckless” move such as the one you describe. Rather, cyclists and pedestrians die every single day from truly reckless actions taken by the ones piloting multi-ton vehicles capable of very high rates of speed. So, do I think the behavior of those cyclists was inconsiderate, perhaps even a bit wrong? Sure. But unless you’ve already written about 10,000 blog posts about inconsiderate drivers, I think you are disproportionately singling out cyclists for bad behavior.
That, in a nutshell, is why I unsubscribed. I have no problem reading opposing views, but I’m not interested in following blogs with misplaced priorities, particularly ones that claim to be “cycling blogs.”
I do not own a car. I commute to work by bike and I use my bike to run almost all of my errands. I see more examples of bad car driving behavior on any one commute than I see other cyclists at all. I live in the suburban wasteland of north Austin and if I see more than one commuter cyclist in a day it makes for dinner time conversation later.
I know and follow the rules of the road and it pisses me off when I see another cyclist doing something stupid. Even being very careful I have had plenty of near death experiences with idiot drivers. I have even been hit and run. When I mention these incidents to my non-cycling friends and coworkers I can be sure to hear a counter story about some cyclist who failed to obey a simple traffic rule. Happens. Every. Single. Time.
Yes, I get that a cyclist doing something stupid is probably only putting himself in danger. But, that is not how car drivers see it. And it is the car drivers who are a very real threat to us on the road. There is a small, but not insignificant, number of car drivers with a near homicidal hatred of cyclists. I have been threatened by some of them out there on my commute.
I challenge the inconsiderate weekend warrior cyclists who ride in big packs and ignore traffic rules to try riding alone in rush hour traffic on one of our busier roads. Pick one without a bike lane. Oh, you might want to look up the rules of the road before you go. Those rules may be your only friend out there.
Johnny White says
I completely agree that cyclists should have enough courtesy on the road, much in the same way that motorists, and even pedestrians should.
I think it’s but right that someone reminds us of how we ride on the roads. Because if we want to be respected on it, we should remember that, “Respect begets respect.”