This timely blog post from Andrew Hartsock just popped into my Google Alerts:
When a friend pointed out that his blog posts portrayed an unfriendly cycling environment, Andrew decided to keep score of driver behavior/attitude. His outta-the-saddlebag assessment was that less than one percent of motorist interactions had any sort of intentional hostility aimed at him. Then he payed attention and found:
At the end of close to a month, I had eight Nice entries and one Mean one. Seven of the eight on the Nice side of the ledger were drivers letting me go out of turn at an intersection. The eighth was a man letting me turn in front of him out of a private drive…
Now, there’s no way of knowing how many interactions with cars I had over that span, but surely it numbers in the thousands. If I meet 15 cars each leg of my commute and commute two legs twice a day, five days a week, that’s 300 a week. I figure each of those numbers is way low, but let’s say there were 1,000 encounters with autos.
One meanie in 1,000 interactions works out not to 1 percent, as I’d guessed, but one-tenth of a percent — and a whole bunch of neutral encounters that were neither mean nor nice but simply operators of two vehicles coexisting peacefully.
Perception is an interesting beast.
I’ve come to similar conclusions when really paying attention, too. I’ve also kept score of mindless-driver moves. He mentions a few beauties in his post. Mindless-driver moves used to make up the majority of the conflicts I experienced, but I find them pretty rare since I altered my riding position to the left. Piggy-backing at 4-way stops and passing unsafely into oncoming traffic are the most common things I see. I experience overt courtesy in about the same ratio to meanness as Mr. Hartsock described. I’ve also noticed that unpleasant interactions increase with distance from the urban center.
Has anyone else kept score?
What percentage of drivers would you guess are:
- deliberately mean
- attentive and cooperative
- readily courteous
And if you have actually kept score, what was the result and how did it differ from your perception?