I Believe in Peace, B_ _ _ _

I admit that I was all fired up to write this post when I got home, but after a hot shower, a cold beer and a phone call with my mom, I’m feeling pretty chill. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

My ride home today was scary. It was pouring rain, dark out and with all the city lights reflecting off the pavement, I was nervous about drivers seeing me and my lights. Then one particular driver had to go and be an a-hole. I was in the bike lane passing a line of stopped traffic when a car started moving into the bike lane. I yelled on the top of my lungs, “HEYYYYYYY!” to prevent being run over. The car slammed on its brakes (I’m loud) and I proceeded on.


To my surprise I heard a woman screaming behind me. I got to the front of the line, turned around and saw that the driver had rolled down her window and was screaming, “I saw you, that’s why I stopped!” This extremely pissed off and offended reaction was odd, to say the least, so I yelled back (we were a couple of car lengths away from each other), “I yelled to make sure that you saw me and did not run me over!” She repeated her first scream in a whiny screech. I responded, “Well, I’m not a mind-reader.” She screamed, “Neither am I!!” Ooookay. She doesn’t need to read my mind to avoid getting squashed. “I’m just out here trying to stay alive!” I yelled, giving her two thumbs up and an insane smile. At this point, I noticed she was on her CELL PHONE. Typical. So I made the “hang up your stupid cell phone” gesture and went on with the green light.

A little wet

The nerve of that prissy little sorority girl (window decals) to scream at me while I was on my bike in the pouring rain dodging her deadly machine is disgusting. I’m reading Traffic right now; I understand all the whacked out psychology, but that doesn’t mean I accept it. I bet she would not have been yelling like that if she wasn’t protected by her car. I haven’t wanted to give someone a beat down that badly in quite a while. I can’t believe this violence in my heart, but if I did it fast, you know that’s an act of kindness. She’s lucky that I believe in peace (b***ch).

[Check out 6:35 and bless Tori for having a different song for my every mood.]

Hey, look at that: I’m all fired up again. Nothing like reliving anger through blogging.

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87 thoughts on “I Believe in Peace, B_ _ _ _

  1. Dwayne says:

    Glad you’re OK. Serenity now! Stay calm out there. I would hate for something to happen to you after a close call because you’re all distracted by the poor driving encounter. Gotta keep your wits about you.

    Same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago except this driver cut me off. It was dry conditions though, so I was able to stop quickly.

    Did she cross over the solid line to move into the bike lane? In California, the line is solid, (meaning no crossing) and then it’s dashed the last 20 or 25 feet before an intersection to allow cars to move into it for a right hand turn. We have right turns on red lights here.

    • dottie says:

      Thanks. I was at a stop light, so now worries of being distracted. The line was solid because there was a long line of traffic and she was completely stopped in it, not up to the intersection yet. Even if the line is dashed, drivers have to look and make sure no traffic (bikes) are there before moving into it. This was also a no right turn on red intersection. Luckily, Oma has internal roller brakes and my stopping power is not compromised in the rain.

  2. Su Yin says:

    Oh my lord! I’m so glad you’re okay.

  3. Anne Hawley says:

    I’m sorry about your bad traffic experience. In all the discussion around traffic, safety, planning, mixed use of roads, etc., I wait and wait for the bold move to ban cellular phone use in cars (well, and on bikes, for that matter–I’ve seen lunacy in both instances). Pretty much 100% of my near-confrontations with a moving motor vehicle while on my bike or on foot, the driver is on the freakin’ phone.

    Having watched and passed along to my fellow cyclists your great vid on winter dressing, I’ve been wondering what you did about rain. I live and bike in Portland–it’s an issue. Like, 250 days a year. Hey! I guess I could blog that myself, huh?

    • dottie says:

      Cell phone use is banned in cars in Chicago. Doesn’t stop anyone, though. We need more enforcement or a cultural shift where cell phone driving is as socially unacceptable as drunk driving.

      I was not expecting rain today, so I was as pictured in my skirt suit plus a reflective windbreaker. I was soaked but it wasn’t a big deal since my destination was home. When I’m prepared, I have a Patagonia rain trench that I wear, but that’s all I use (plus boots). If you click on the “rain” tag, you can see pictures of the trench and Trisha recently did a how-to post on dressing for the rain.

      Thanks for passing along my video :)

      • LC says:

        In the UK is absolutely forbidden to use your mobile phone while driving, it’s few points of your license… does that stop people from using their mobile while driving????? Noooooooo! That would be like… too logical of course! Anyway, don’t let crazy drivers like that affect you (although I know what you mean about leaving you feel so angry, when it happens to me my heart keeps thumping for ages!!) coz your safety is the most important thing!! :) Lorenza ♥

      • cb says:

        “Traffic” has ruined me as far as being polite and accommodating to cell-phone users is concerned. There’s just no way you can do it and still be safe, or fully aware of those around you.

        I’ve gotten good at performing an accusatory point followed by a hang-up-your-phone gesture.

    • Carolyn says:

      They will be banning them here in British Columbia officially in January! Not a moment too soon! I hate people like that too Dottie, I get the odd one that makes me want to cringe…hard NOT to yell back at them! Glad you are alright.

  4. dukiebiddle says:

    Did you type “(b***ch)?” Shocking. I’m fanning myself.

    The worst part of these encounters is the 3 or so days you end up spending reliving the fight in your head. I had a big blow up a couple of weeks ago with a jogger. I felt a little bad afterwords, not because I wasn’t right (I was SO right), but because I used the B word and there was a finger involved against someone who wasn’t in a car (if she was in a car I’d be totally fine with it). It’s the part when they cop attitude with you after they’ve screwed up that I cannot handle.

    • Ghost Rider says:

      “It’s the part when they cop attitude with you after they’ve screwed up that I cannot handle.”

      So true…so true. My biggest pet peeve.

      Everyone has to blow their stack at some point — and that’s ok. Sounds like you’ve moved on, though, and that’s even MORE ok!!!

      Stay safe out there, everyone.

    • dottie says:

      Have to keep it clean for the LGRAB grandmas :)

  5. miss sarah says:

    I wish I was there with you. We could have “represented” and stomped that *betzch* out with our heels.

    *Betzch* is actually how I’ve been saying it lately. Leftover from Bryce’s visit. And its origins are from this awful video Don says reminds him of me.

  6. Amy says:

    As I was driving home today during this terrible storm, I could barely see well enough to see my own lane. I took it slow, but I was shocked at how horribly people were driving in these conditions. I just kept thinking about all the bikers who weren’t just stuck in the rain, but had to hope that these drivers could also see them and stay out of the bike lane. I know since I’ve started biking I’ve been more aware, but I know there are a lot of crazy drivers out there not paying attention (I nearly got hit by a car the other day using the crosswalk across from our high school). It’s good to hear you’re safe; it’s just hard to recognize how ignorant people can be.

  7. Scott says:

    Yeah, it’s strange how normally if someone is in your way they will say excuse me but when it’s a car they go straight to profanity. I can’t even describe the traffic configuration I encountered a few weeks ago on Milwaukee. I wasn’t even upset but this lady thought I was and preemptively screamed all kinds of nonsense at me. I asked her what was wrong and all I got was a bunch of screaming and arm fat slinging around as she waved her massive limbs and her petrified husband sat in the passenger seat fidgeting uncomfortably.

  8. Emma J says:

    So glad you are okay.

    Do you think it is that on some level drivers (not just them, us when we drive, too) realize how enormously close a driving mistake comes to killing someone – and that’s what fuels the anger?

  9. Catherine says:

    It’s terrible of me, and I fully and completely admit that it’s terrible of me. But. (Significant but there). I kind of can’t wait until I’m in the “fit” category of individuals (ie no longer overweight) for many reasons. A major one? Lording it over the car drivers who see it fit to yell at me. Most of them are (also) unfit (or outright morbidly obese). Right now, it’s a bit of a pot calling kettle black kind of situation, but just give me until the spring!

    Again, it’s terrible. I know it’s terrible. There are many reasons for individual levels of fitness and lack thereof. There are many reasons for our relative societal lack of fitness. I get it. I’ve lived it. I’ve been told, though, that this kind of mentality isn’t uncommon among those of us who have lost significant (50lbs and counting!) amounts of weight. Add in the cycling vs. driver mentality and you’ve got a pretty seriously holier than thou jerk. I’m trying to reign it in. But I still call the turn signal hand (the one that drivers no longer use) the Big Mac holding hand.

    • Giffe says:

      I’ve noticed that 75% of the time I get angry at a driver, they’re either overweight, or in an SUV. Usually both.

      • Yvette (Slow Bike Miami wife contingent) says:

        I’m sorry, I don’t normally do this (“negative” comments on blog comments), but I am not very happy with Giffe’s comment about overweight drivers (though I get the point of it). I am an overweight cyclist AND driver, as is my husband–and I can’t stand being yelled at for my physique (on foot, on my bike or in my car)–and I especially hate being pigeonholed because of my weight (“fat people this, fat people that”). I’m aware I am overweight and I am working on getting healthier. Ironically, I am actually healthier (low cholesterol, good BP, etc) than most of the thin people I know! And THEY DON’T CYCLE.

        So please be careful about making mean comments about fat people. Remember that while many people in this country are obese and most drive cars, being an a–hole is not directly related to being overweight.
        Thanks.

        • Yvette (Slow Bike Miami wife contingent) says:

          Oh, and I don’t ever eat McDs (or any fast food) AND I still use my turn signal all the time (a rarity these days). See! Not everyone who gets behind a wheel is an a–hole. :)

        • Catherine says:

          I know, it’s so complicated. And it’s this mean little impish impulse that hits me that’s particularly hypocritical because I’m really not fit myself, and have been even more overweight than I have been. But I wonder if that’s part of the reason WHY that particular mean imp strikes….they say you’re always the most critical of other people about things you like the least about yourself.

          Luckily, I have impulse control and a strong self-edit when it comes to my mean streak (we all have one right?). But I’d be lying if I said it never occurs to me (hence my confession here!)

          • dukiebiddle says:

            I’m the same way with smokers and smoking. It really irks my how hypocritical I am about it. I smoked from 14 to my early 30’s, and was only able to quit a couple of years ago with the help of drugs, and now I get really angry/annoyed/upset about other people smoking, even though that is something I should be completely empathetic about. After all, I know the difficulty of quitting is a measurement of character. I know tobacco is clinically more addictive than heroin, and yet when I smell cigarettes coming from a neighbors apartment, I want to bang on their door and demand they get a prescription to Chantix.

          • Trisha says:

            Perhaps that’s why I get so annoyed by distracted drivers…as long as we’re making confessions I’ll admit, I used to be one! Though never angry or aggressive. Maybe I just miss being able to cruise blithely through town on a cell phone, oblivious to the dangerous situations I’m creating for others…nah, not really.

    • dottie says:

      That’s really interesting, very complex feelings.

  10. Giffe says:

    Have you thought about getting a whistle? My friend has a bright orange one and never rides without it. Whenever someone is about to cut him off, he gives it a tweet.

    • dottie says:

      I’ve seen people with whistles but I couldn’t get a whistle to my lips as fast as I could yell. I do want to get an airhorn because no matter how hard or angrily I ring my bell, it still sounds sweet and happy.

  11. Chandra says:

    be safe out there, no shortage of morons!

    peace :)

  12. anna says:

    I have a similar story to tell about a female driver that nearly knocked me over because she wanted to PARK in the bike lane I was cycling on (and then complained loudly that I didn’t move on to give her the room she required to do so). Crazy people sometimes. Hard to stay calm. But I still try. Well, what can one do but to move on…

  13. Tom says:

    Dottie,

    I hope this incident does not deter you from using the “Heyyyy!” technique. I use it from time to time and find it very effective. Drivers usually don’t like it and sometimes react negatively. But, it works very well.

    The bad vibe that follows the “Hey” is well worth the fact that I have avoided a crash. Looking at it pragmatically, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

    Plus, the lady gave you an easy (and entertaining) blog post. And, another opportunity for your legions of followers to complain

  14. Tom says:

    …. about drivers.

    • dottie says:

      This was not the first time I’ve used the Heyyyy technique and it won’t be the last. As you said, the bad vibe is nothing compared to avoiding a collision. That’s why her comment that she “saw me” was so ridiculous. I’d rather not take that chance.

      • dukiebiddle says:

        It’s really weird how loud we are when we scream “Hey!” or “Woh!” Without even trying it comes out in an octave that can pierce windshield glass. It’s like Dune voice or something. It always freaks me out a little bit after it comes out of my mouth.

        • Sungsu says:

          Maybe because I’m on the west coast, but I yell “Whoa!” about half the time, and “Hey!” the other half.

      • Trisha says:

        Unfortunately my technique in these types of situations is to freeze in horror and slam on the brakes. Best vocal I can come up with is a vague squeal of terror. I can muster up plenty of invective later on, but in the moment letting out anything as vocally complex as a “hey!” is out of the question. I guess I need an air horn!

    • E A says:

      I’m a fan of the “HEYYY!!!” technique, too. Unfortunately the other night I had a near miss encounter with a door on Wells that rendered me speechless in those prime “HEY/WHOA!” moments. I lived to ride on and gasp an audible – “thank you” for being spared from dooring incident.

      Stay safe out there.

  15. Mamavee says:

    What I love most about you is that you look sweet and kind. ( I know you really are) but you can punch it out when you need to. I a cute ( I’ve been called fraggle-like) 5 foot usually sweet woman who can turn on the rage machine at an injustice can really appreciate this duality.

    Peace to you on this looming holiday. I am thankful that you are real and you are ok. I wish I could be there with you and Miss sara- the three of us would “stomp [her] froggie face to the floor”. ( I muppets and fraggles unite! — that quote is from Miss piggy another sweet rage machine lovely)

  16. Lucas says:

    Ah a typical day riding through any urban landscape… drivers getting upset at other people for their own mistakes and shortcomings; I especially like when people pass me, giving plenty of room, just to all but hit the curb or parked cars when they come to the inevitable next intersection, essentially blocking me AFTER they obviously saw me. Blinders, I tell ya!

    Glad it was not more serious; ride safe this holiday weekend!

  17. Sid says:

    What exactly is the “hang up your stupid cell phone” gesture? I think I might find it very useful and would love to add it to my repertoire.

    • cycler says:

      I’d like to know it too!
      Glad you’re OK and hope you’re feeling better- that adrenaline rush is kind of strange because it leaves you all worked up after the danger is long passed.

      I’m pretty quick to yell Hey! or Oy! (did it this morning to keep a garbage truck from pulling out in front of me ) it is MUCH more effective than a bell, although sometimes it leaves my throat a little raw.

    • dottie says:

      That’s when you hold the phone hand signal to your ear, wave it around, and then slam it down on you palm as many times and as hard as needed for dramatic emphasis. The meaning is very clear for drivers.

      • cb says:

        Whoa, you involve the other hand as a phone-slamming platform? That’s pretty hardcore.

        I just use the two step 1) make a thumb-and-pinkie phone and hold it to your ear, and 2) mime slamming it down on the cradle (which is not your other palm).

        My other hand is usually on the handlebars, steering.

  18. Trisha says:

    Grr. Agree with you on the cell phones (and sorority girls!). It’s still legal to talk while driving here, but since I started cycling (and definitely since reading TRAFFIC) I have basically stopped using mine in the car, and never use it driving through town. People don’t realize how distracting, and therefore dangerous, it is. As bad as drunk driving!

    p.s. oh dear, you are very wet in that picture. :)

  19. E A says:

    I wish there was more I could do to curb the cell phone use of drivers! Any ideas? Police need to do “sting” operations at intersections looking for cell use – like they’ve staged for pedestrians…. especially once the state-wide texting ban goes into effect. THat’s the only way you’ll catch ‘em!

    On a side note… I heard on the news yesterday that statistics now prove that driving while “drowsy” is just as dangerous as driving drunk. How true. At least I know I need to be awake to pedal my bike.

  20. ChipSeal says:

    I yell a “LOOK LOOK LOOK!” when trying to get someone’s attention in traffic.

    Automobile operators are not just freaked out upset at cyclists, they are angry at each other too, so we cyclists ought not take it so personally.

    Cell phone use while driving will be a problem as long as our society tolerates incompetent motoring.

  21. Step-Through says:

    Oh, so true. I try not to engage in verbal disputes with drivers at all. I don’t think I’ll be able to enlighten any motorist this way, and the inane way they view the world makes me so, so angry. Then I dwell on it and turn bitter. For instance, the woman who made a left turn from her parking spot on the right side of the road, in front of me, and then said I should use a ‘bike route’ when I yelled at her.

    But the “Hey” is surprisingly effective, although it leaves my throat raw too.

    The psychology of cars is very strange. I think people generally feel very defenseless in the world. The car makes them feel protected, armored, and it also gives them a strange form of anonymity. I think for many people it becomes a form of escape, like playing a video game, to get into your car and “compete” with other motorists. Plus driving is dull and takes a lot of time so people seek many ways to multi-task. It leads to very hostile and chaotic behavior.

    • G.E. says:

      Yes, they have anonymity and also think they’re invisible to other drivers, in my experience. That’s why they do many disgusting things whilst driving (e.g. picking noses), thinking that no one can see them. What’s up with that? I seem to see this more times than I care too. Maybe I’m just too aware of what’s around me?

  22. Yvette (Slow Bike Miami wife contingent) says:

    You know, I have an “I believe in peace, bitch” shirt I don’t wear nearly often enough but will start wearing more often now, especially to ride. SO glad you are okay.

  23. In the first photo, I thought that your outfit was made of a glossy material – then I saw the second photo and realised it was soaked!

    In Boston, everything is so chaotic and disorienting in the rain, that I doubt I would be able to actually interact with a driver, even using the “Hey!” method. Glad you were okay, and hopefully the woman will give some thought to what happened and reconsider her behaviour.

  24. Wild Bill says:

    There is something about driving a cage that magnifies some peoples anti-social tendencies. I guess it is like wearing a huge suit of powered armor. We should all just go to full-on Robotech / BattleTech / Mobile Suit Gundam and fight it out in the streets on the way to work.

    The “HEY” works well for me, but I’ve only used it on people on foot so far. As far as noisemakers I like the mega-horn style because it sounds like a car or truck horn. I find that people give you more respect when they think you are made of steel and weigh 4,000 pounds. Exempli gratia:

    http://www.gagworks.com/Product.aspx?pid=624&catid=20

    http://www.naturecoastpromotions.com.au/noise.html

    Thanks for sharing, Dottie.

  25. Tad Salyards says:

    I just watched an episode of “Myth Busters” where they pretty much proved that driving while talking on a cell phone is at least as bad as (and maybe worse than) driving drunk. This gives me very little tolerance for people on their phones while driving.

    I recently upgraded the headlamp on my Oma with a dynamo powered LED. LOVE IT. I feel much more visible now approaching cars without my dim halogen bulb. Consider visiting Stephan for the upgrade if you haven’t already done so ;)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Tara Salyards says:

      I saw that episode! I think they basically showed it was MORE dangerous talking on a cell phone than driving drunk!!

      Also, thanks for the tip on the light!! Your sister doesn’t want to die in Chicago so will go get the more visible light upgrade!!

  26. Ira says:

    I love the top picture so much! You’ve completely captured the duality of bicycle commuting:

    Civilized and unobtrusive, yet fiercely independent and resolute!

  27. trigreyhound says:

    Well played. Now, deep cleansing breath.

  28. grambev says:

    She was WRONG and a LIAR! She DIDN’T see you because she was yakking away on her cell phone. If you hadn’t yelled she WOULD have hit you. GRRR!

  29. grambev says:

    I’m always worried that some idiot like that will hit you and it won’t be YOUR fault because I know you’re a very responsible person. :)

  30. tricotmiss says:

    I had a similar situation on Monday as a pedestrian. I stepped into a marked crosswalk at a lighted intersection just before the walk-man turned to the flashing hand. Where I live, pedestrians can be ticketed for jaywalking if they enter the crosswalk once the hand is flashing, but I was perfectly legal and had every right to continue walking across the street.

    I crossed in front of a huge pickup with a HUGE chrome grill and the man driving opened his window specifically to call me a F*ing C***. It was scary and so completely bizarre. Part of me wanted to yell back at him, but I felt that someone who was so aggressive with no provocation at 8:30 in the morning was not someone I wanted to tangle with.

    I talk a lot about not letting the current culture of fear dictate how I live my life. I won’t stop walking or biking because of people like this. But I was scared to be near this man who was so angry and in control of such a dangerous machine. I want to have options for legal ways to respond to that kind of harrassment.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Wow on the C word. In the States and Canada at least, using *that* word is so hostile and violent it’s best to just not say anything back. Anyone who is willing to throw that word around has some issues. Although I understand Brits and Australians throw it around like they’re saying “marshmallows” or something.

  31. BB says:

    Maybe you just need a horn?

    Airzounds might work out.

    Nothing you can do with those people, smile and wave!

    Yes your honor I smiled and waved.

  32. eric says:

    I believe in Peace, B_____
    Because you look and act like the generous, intelligent person that you are, people who cut you off are forced to deal with a person rather than a stereotype. I wish you safety every day, and I thank you for this website, and how you are changing drivers(and bikers alike) with civil persistence everyday.

  33. David K says:

    The driver was probably crazed with holiday stress.

    What’s the “hang up your stupid cell phone” gesture? I’d like to learn it. I’ve been almost hit so many times when someone is on their stupid cell phone. Don’t even get me started.

    When someone is yelling at you maybe you can use the Robin Williams line from Peter Pan, “Don’t mess with me— I’m A Lawyer”. Unfortunately I envision two results: A.) The driver will meekly pipe down, or B.) The driver will run you over.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  34. Tara Salyards says:

    Hmmm… this perhaps was not the best blog to read before I head out in the rain on my Azor Swan!!

    I’m glad you are OK! If this had happened to me I most likely WOULD have given the woman a beat down. I shall try to be more Yoda-like as you are!! :)

  35. ericbouwens says:

    I noticed a crazed quality to motorists when I commuted by bike yesterday. Maybe we need to have a Craze-o-meter to warn cyclists of impending meltdowns among crazed motorists.

  36. G.E. says:

    Glad you survived the incident, and I definitely can relate to the frustration of a moment like that, calming down, and then getting worked up about it again. This is a great place to vent it though, and it sounds like others have had some similar situations (well, I think most of us have, whether or not it was shared). It can be completely scary. The main road I ride is a highway with cars going over 70 mph, and several bicyclists have died on it while riding. I don’t blame anyone for doing whatever it takes to wake up a driver who isn’t entirely alert or aware of what’s happening around them.
    p.s. I’m so jealous of the “I believe in peace, bitch” shirt/tote bag. Now I must go on a hunt! :o)

  37. cb says:

    You need a rain cape, Dottie!

  38. academichic says:

    Ok, I know you weren’t being funny (but angry) but “I believe in peace, B**ch” is my new favorite line! I laughed so hard!

    I’m glad you’re ok and I’m glad you yelled back and told her your mind when she yelled at you. Other than that, what else can you do? Some people are just so self-involved. Glad you’re ok!

    S.

  39. E A says:

    I just came across this site: http://www.DearDriver.org

    (from a comment on this article about the bike debate: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20091207_The_Bike_Debate__It_s_really_all_about_safety.html#comments) Good reads.. too bad the legislator still seems to put a lot of the blame on cyclists.. ugh.

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