The Angry Driver Syndrome

It generally takes a lot to get me fired up...but I am very tired of having people yell out their car windows (at me or others) telling cyclists to get off the road. I usually tell them (yell back) that it is actually illegal for an adult cyclist to ride on the sidewalk. This often makes them more mad. Sometimes, if I'm able, I also add that roads and traffic laws originally came about for bikes, not cars. This often makes them blow a gasket. Pun intended.

The following three sentences are taken directly from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

On what types of roads can I ride a Bicycle?  Bicyclists have the legal right to share the road on most public highways. Bicyclists are not allowed on interstate highways and expressways.

On one recent occasion I was pedaling (coasting, actually) and nearing this intersection on Elmwood Avenue (pictured below). As I was coming to a stop a motorist pulled out in front of me, causing us both to hit the breaks hard. He rolls down the window and yells (surprise), Get the F*** off the road a**hole. After a brief verbal interaction he actually threatened me physically, right there in the middle of bustling Elmwood Avenue on a bright and sunny day. I was not on an interstate highway or an expressway, I was on a commercial and residential city street.

Another time, recently, when I failed to yield in front of the sign below (which is on the s-curves near Delaware Park), a driver (you guessed it) told me to get off the road. When I pointed to the sign he flipped me the bird as he hit the gas; if he wasn't frowning at the time I could picture him to be a nice little old man, someone's grampa.

I'm not asking that cars be removed from the road (but fewer cars wouldn't be so bad), just that drivers share the roads with cyclists...and not treat us rudely, or threaten us simply because we are both using the same road.

To read more about the rights, rules, and regulations of bicyclists at the DMV, click here.

Urban Simplicity.


Dr C. said…
The idiotic motorists I encounter here in the UK don't seem to think cyclists should ride on the pavement (it is also illegal here too). They do seem to think that the road is theirs and that cyclists shouldn't take up more than the gutter. Other things like unsafe close overtaking, taking a cyclists right of way by vehicular intimidation and parking accross what few cycle-specific infrastructure there is are commonplace. But at least no-one has ever tried to tell me I should be on the pavement. Its a shame that cycling is so pleasant and relaxing yet motorists are so infuriating sometimes.
Jim said…
I was standing in the street infront of my house yesterday talking to my neighbour when a woman (young mother) screamed abuse out of her car window and honked at the car in front because he wasn't going fast enough, and pulled away wheels screaching... this in a built up area on a dangerous crossroad. I wanted to shout abuse back at her because I hear morons like her all day long and live in fear for my kids everytime we leave the front garden, but being on foot and having been properly educated I just remarked on her rudeness to my neighbour. Later in the afternoon I came across a motor cyclist who had been knocked off by a small car into oncoming traffic. The cops were already there and 3 drivers were standing around in shock looking at this mess in the middle of the road. The hospital chopper flew over my head as I made my way home. People just don't seem to understand the risk. I dream of a day when the gas runs out....