Recently started to converse with motorists about their driving

I recently surprised myself and took the step of engaging with a van driver on his aggressive punishment pass (after I had blocked his initial overtake attempt at a point where it was not safe to overtake). Regardless of what I said, all he could repeat was "but you were in the middle of the road", and "well, you shouldn't be in the middle of the road then", as if it was a mantra which would get me out of his face. Since then I have engaged with a number of other motorists with mixed results. One ambulance driver (side note: I find off duty amulance drivers using the bus lanes to be a total menace), once I had re-iterated my demands that he give me more space about 5 times (he was eastern european and didn't really speak English), apologised and said he would be more careful. Another lorry driver who overtook me with about a foot to spare, and to whom I asked "do you realise you just endangered my life?" at the next set of lights, apologised profusely and then gave me a thumbs up out of the window when he passed me later on on the same street. Who knows if this behavior is genuine or they are just being super nice because they're not licensed to drive heavy goods vehicles and don't want any trouble. The thing that surprised me is that drivers seem to be happy to at least engage with me through an open window, instead of just blanking me which is what I would have expected to happen. Any one else have experiences of this kind of engagement? I think if more of us did it maybe these drivers would drive more carefully in the future around cyclists. 

Replies

  • By Michelo at 01:44pm 04 Dec 2013

Definitely. It's a fact of human nature that behaviour unchallenged continues, everyone has a sense of shame (ok perhaps not everyone but most) and often people are simply just ignorant and need educating. Alot of motorists think that we should always be on the left hand side, we should not assume that they know better and are just being bloody minded. As a cyclist I've been challenged on things I've done dismissed it initially, thought about it, gone home done some reading realised I WAS wrong and changed my ways. Therefore, even if people still protest, do not think your challenge was pointless, you may not see an instant impact but believe me communication is vital to changing the environment we live in. Well done keep it up.

  • By phufbl at 06:39pm 04 Dec 2013

I have tried before but I don't think I have ever been successful. It has either been a case of not been able to get your point across in three seconds, or on a couple of occasions has ended in an angry argument which I don't really think does anyone any good.

I would love to be able to calmly put my viewpoint across at times and discuss what happened but I have never succeeded!

I once spoke to a minicab driver who had overtaken me very quickly and very close right before the back of a queue so then stopped very suddenly in front of me.

The exchange was something on the lines of

-"What's the problem?"

-"You overtook me far too fast and far too close, you could have killed me"

-"Did I touch you?"

-"No, but you were only inches away"

-"Inches is enough"

I will admit that at this point I lost my temper and may have become somewhat rude. I'm not proud of that and I realise it is counter-productive, but it can be very difficult to stay cool in a situation where you feel you have been unnecessarily endangered and someone else is showing blatent disregard for your safety.

I've also had numerous "you should be on the left, get out of the middle of the road" and "I pay my road tax" as I am sure everybody has.

I had a driver speak to me today. I had stopped at a red light one cyclist had gone through before me and another after I stopped. When the lights changed the driver of the first car at the lights pulled alongside me opened his passenger window, gave me a thumbs up and said "well done". It cheered me up
  • By MartinB at 12:48pm 05 Dec 2013

I've had mixed experiences in this. When I confronted an off-duty ambulance driver for his aggrssive driving ("but you were in the middle of the road") he eventually apologised once I explained why I had been in the middle of the road. It ended courteously.

 

Another time, when I questioned a bus driver who had overtaken me with inches to spare, he simply said "I'm a professional".

 

Sometimes, politely explaining to someone that their driving put you in danger can elicit an apology. Often, though, there isn't the time.

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