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Posted by on Sep 21, 2012 in Uncategorized | 12 comments

A Great Example

By now you’ve probably seen the video from Colorado of the motorist following 2 cyclists, blaring his horn and refusing to pass. Yesterday I posted an article to our facebook page announcing that the driver was charged by police.

This article, from TrainingPeaks, is closer to a first-hand account. I’m posting it here because I think it offers an excellent example of how to handle an irrational motorist:

We think that Dirk and Joe showed incredible restraint, and their reaction was a demonstration of the safest and best way to deal with a situation like this:

  1. Don’t start a confrontation.
  2. Take down the license plate and gather any other evidence you can (in Dirk and Joe’s case, this was video evidence).
  3. Report it afterwards to the authorities. In Colorado, the number to call from your mobile is *277. Be prepared to provide license plate number, location and direction of travel, description of vehicle and driver if possible, and description of harassing behavior.

Read more and watch the video here.

We’ve talked about the problem of bullying and using video to fight back against roadway terrorists before. There have been a number of incidents which demonstrate of the benefit of having a camera handy. Even horse riders have taken to helmet cams to record rude motorists. Errant motorists are not the only ones who need to be kept honest. Hopefully this story and others like it are raising awareness that we now live in a technological age where cyclists are more and more likely to have a camera capable of capturing a motorist’s behavior and/or license plate. Attention bullies: it’s becoming less and less likely you can assault a defenseless person and flee with anonymity.

One really important point from the above story and video: if you have to turn in an incident video, you want your own behavior to be as calm as Dirk and Joe’s. Hats off to them!

12 Comments

  1. that’s great, but what about those of us who can’t afford HD cameras as cycling equipment? i don’t even have a smart phone. not only that, but around here law enforcement cares more about keeping cyclists out of the way than protecting them from harassment and dangerous drivers.

    • my point is that for everyone to be safe from this kind of harassment and worse, we need to change the culture that hates and distrusts us because of the vehicle we choose. unfortunately i don’t believe there are enough of us yet to effect that change.

    • Some relatively high quality equipment has come down in price considerably over the past few years. If you’re really interested in it, I would go to one of the bigger forums and poke around some threads. For instance, I know that bikeforums.net has a few that discuss details and specific brands.

    • With all the bikers now, why not have a massive “awareness campaign” to a) get more folks IN helmets (I see far too many without) and b) get those helmets with cams! Why can’t the manufacturers donate a slew to be given away based on economic NEED?! Hmmm .. we can do it for other stuff, why not this too?! HELLO, Advocates .. this is your area. You have the idea .. run with it!

  2. It just occurred to me – video cameras for cyclists are a lot like guns for the general, law abiding populace – if most carried them, none would need them because the risk/reward equation for bullies would fundamentally change…

    • Sure, and if everyone had a Hummer we wouldn’t need traffic laws. Sigh.

  3. A couple of things came to me as I watched that video.
    1. Those guys were riding the white line. I guess if they had moved left a little, the guy in the SUV would have been justified to mow them down;
    2. they sure had a lot more patience than would have had; and
    3. the state they are in requires a tag in the front as well as in the back. Without the tag in the front, they would have had to “catch” the tag as it was moving away and that is difficult.

    Florida has steadfastly refused to require tags in the front. They really don’t care about catching criminals.

    • I wish we had front tags. I shoot backwards more often than forward as that’s where the most interesting behavior is. It’s also where you capture the majority of abusive behavior, it would be nice to get the plate in the same shot. (Not that I’ve caught much abusive behavior, it doesn’t happen that often.)

      I admit I cringed at a few of the media references to them being where they were supposed to be, on the edge of the road. It’s risky to move that close to the edge of the pavement—especially when you have a hostile driver behind you. But for the benefit of video, it demonstrated that they were trying to get the driver to pass them. That plays way better in the media than holding your ground in the lane. It also demonstrates that people like that motorist will bully bicyclists no matter where they are in the lane. The media and our dumbed-down culture have zero capacity for complexity. It’s impossible to have a discussion about lane position at the same time as a discussion about hostile drivers.

      • I forgot about this, but there used to be something known as the “Florida Getaway.” That was where the crooks would rapidly back away from the crime scene to hide their tag number.

        It’s something like the “Texas or California Stop.”

      • When I began commuting on major 4 lane roads in 1990 I was honked at two or three times by following motorists in the first 6 months. None in the next 7 years.

        Why the change?

        First, I prepare mentally and when a motorist honks a couple times while following but not passing me, I slow down and move left. Then I ask them if they need help. When they stop honking I get going again.

        There’s no reward there for them so they stop. If you scoot out of their way or get off the road, you’re teaching them that their honking gets results. That makes it worse for everyone else.

        Don’t reward the behavior and it stops.

        I’ve listened to too many bicyclists claiming that their life was saved by getting out of the way of following motorists. Way too many when I calculated how many would die without this supposed life-saving behavior. So, I decided to stay in the road even when I KNEW I was going to get hit from behind. Scared the hell out of me to do this but I only got slightly bumped by one, another stopped within 6″ and another changed lanes and passed. He was entertaining me with his defective brakes that froze up one wheel with a hair raising screech.

        This kind of experience has completely transformed my understanding of human behavior and bicycling. I don’t care to repeat it, but its irreplaceable in my learning.