The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports that more than 700 people die each year in a bicycling accident. Unfortunately many of those deaths and injuries caused to cyclists are the result of encounters with angry motorists. People driving cars may get angry at cyclists because they perceive them as being in the way and purposely causing backups in traffic. Whether or not their reasons are valid, angry motorists are dangerous to cyclists. There are several actions cyclists can take to avoid being the target of road rage. Here are a few.
Check Your Own Rage
You may get angry when a motorist passes too close to you, pushing you toward the side of the road, or when a car pulls threatening close to you. You may also be justified in that anger, but if one angry person is dangerous, two angry people is a disaster.
If you find yourself in a conflict with the driver of a motor vehicle, take some time to reflect on the situation. Ask yourself if your goal is to be right, to retaliate or to get out of the situation safely. Ignoring the driver and leaving the situation as quickly as possible is the safest course of action.
Follow the Rules
One thing that gets drivers worked up is when cyclists are not following the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you have a responsibility to obey traffic laws just as cars do. Unless there are specific regulations in your community stating differently, you must stop for stop signs and red lights just as a car would. You cannot ride from the street to the sidewalk, and you cannot ride your bicycle against the flow of traffic. You must also use a cycling lane if it is present.
Following cycling rules is not only useful in getting along with drivers, but it also for your own protection. If an angry or distracted driver hits you, you will have much better legal ground to stand on if you were following bicycling rules when the accident occurred.
Bike in Groups
There is safety and strength in numbers. As one cyclist on a road full of cars, you are vulnerable. As part of a group of ten or twenty cyclists, you are a force. There are several reasons to bike with at least one friend or more if possible.
- You are more visible to drivers.
- You have a witness if anything goes wrong.
- An angry diver is less likely to mess with you if you are with other people.
- It's more fun to bike together.
Many cyclists who commonly travel through cities by bicycle have begun to put cameras on their bikes so they are able to record any incidents of road rage or drivers behaving badly. If a driver gets angry and purposely puts a car in front of your bike, you will be glad you have a video of the incident that shows exactly what happened.
Make the camera obvious, and point it out to any drivers who scream at you or behave in a threatening manner toward you.
Join groups for cyclists that promote education about cycling for drivers or talk to specialists from firms like The Law Office of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C.. Groups like these can support, educate, and lobby for cyclist friendly legislation and can help ease tension between drivers and cyclists.
Be sure that any group you join is actually working toward peace between those who share the road rather than simply complaining about cars and drivers.
There is no reason that a cyclist should have to be worried about being the victim of road rage, but it is a realty for many people who ride bikes around motorists. Taking a few simple precautions will help cyclists stay safe.