All bicyclists will encounter road rage at some point. Sadly, incidents appear to be on the rise as drivers have become less patient and many bicyclists, to ensure their own safety, have to more aggressively claim more of the roadway to avoid hazards.
It’s a troubled marriage, the intersection of impatient motorists and safety-conscious bicyclists on our roads.
What can bicyclists do when they encounter angry drivers? A retired state trooper, who is also a fellow New York Bicycling Coalition board member, recently wrote a great blog post about road rage and what bicyclists should — AND SHOULD NOT — do when they encounter danger from drivers.
I recommend that all bicyclists, even the occasional casual riders, take a few minutes to read what the retired trooper, Ric MacKenzie, has to say.
Ric is also a certified Level 2 US A Cycling coach and the owner of Revolutionary Velo-Watts in Clifton Springs, N.Y., a company that offers cycling training services, including indoor virtual cycling experiences!
Here are some highlights from his blog post:
- Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
- Always carry a cell phone.
- If you have a dangerous encounter with a vehicle, be sure to get a description of the driver and all occupants in the vehicle, in addition to a description of the vehicle and a license plate number. So always carry something that you can take notes with!
- Report the incident to the local police as soon as safely possible.
- Look for uninvolved witnesses to substantiate your claim. As Ric points out, they are often willing to help and just as upset as the bicyclist at the aggressive motorist. District attorneys need events to be substantiated before they can move forward with prosecutions.
- If a vehicle stops, get your guard up. They usually aren’t stopping for friendly chit-chat, Ric said. Ric offers a smart way to calm down your antagonist (please read the blog post!) and recommends the best way to combat aggressive drivers is to approach the dispute in a calm, level-headed manner. Curbside shouting matches can lead to physical confrontations and messy legal battles.
- Never reach inside the driver’s vehicle for any reason. That can be a sign of aggressiveness that often escalates the confrontation.
- Young drivers can have the most “severe lapses in judgment,” Ric said. Incidents with hot-headed younger drivers could offer the highest probability of getting out of hand.
Residents of Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers: Always have your free Ziff Law accident app (click here) handy any time you leave home on your bicycle! It tells you everything you need to do in case of an accident, and is just as helpful for bike riders in a road rage incident!