Summer 2012 Jerk Season

The good side of biking Chicago

Welcome to Jerk Season aka summer!

On Saturday, I set off on my bike, in a great mood, to the theater to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  I was biking on a busy but reasonable two-lane street, outside of the door zone, three feet from parked cars.  Suddenly, from far behind me I heard a honk, then two more as the car came closer.  HONK!  HOOONK!  HOOOOOOONK!  The car passed me extremely closely, as the driver screeched out the open window, “MOVE OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, BITCH!!!”

I maintained my line and did not react at all.  About 30 yards later, I passed her and the many cars stopped in traffic in front of her, soon arriving at my destination.

The experience was unpleasant – obviously, like any sane person, I would prefer not to be assaulted while traveling – but I have to remember that there are always awful people in the world, whether I am driving or bicycling.  I had to deal with her for only a few seconds, while she is trapped in her own anger always.  It would have been nice if a police officer had magically been around to pull her over, but such is life.

Now I can add “bitch” to the list, along with “retard,” “asshole,”  and “moron,” drivers have yelled at me for no reason.  Not too bad, in four years of daily Chicago bicycling, but I prefer bicycling in the winter, when drivers keep their windows closed and I cannot hear their crazed screeching.

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35 thoughts on “Summer 2012 Jerk Season

  1. Liam Phelan says:

    Well you did right in ignoring her. I think that pisses them off even more when you ignore them which is a great plus and a good way to get your own back. It never quite feels like a victory though.

  2. Amy Gawthrop says:

    This is why I always have the earphones in. Makes the situation a little lighter if I can’t hear them and all I see is lips flapping and hands gesticulating. And they start blowing the horn, then I just give them a thumbs up, to let them know it works. :) 

  3. Carolyn says:

    Ah, I try to think that deep down they are jealous as us for being in such good shape! ;)  We have enough jerks yelling at us here too….

  4. Beth says:

    This hasn’t happened to me, yet. I’m sure it will, though, and I know I wouldn’t be nearly as proper and circumspect as you, as I am foul-mouthed (especially when provoked). However, I did just get myself a Pashley Princess, an absurdly classy bike on which I feel downright regal. If some jerk screamed at me like that, the image of class and good breeding would immediately dissolve as I begin bellowing FUCK YOUs  in the street. 

    Anyway, sorry that happened. I’ve mostly found drivers to be pretty courteous, excepting taxis and buses, but being behind a wheel really does bring out the jerk in people.

  5. dukiebiddle says:

    Ah, the long distance high speed HOOOOONK from behind, followed by more as they approach at too high a speed.  I know it well.  I find it helpful, when they are nearly about to pass you, after they’ve let off multiple angry honks, to glance over my shoulder and make eye contact.  After multiple angry honks it’s pretty much a certainty that they are going to buzz you.  Making eye contact punks them and usually guilts them into giving you your 3 feet.

  6. That would have seriously harshed my mellow and probably ruined the rest of my day. I’ll try to be more zen and remember, like you said, that some people are just miserable to be around and that our interactions with them on the road are blessedly short.

  7. G.E. says:

    It takes all kinds, doesn’t it? Sadly, I don’t seem to be able to avoid these folks even in the winter months, but it sounds as though you handled yourself with dignity and decorum. Hopefully, “Jerk Season” won’t be too bad this year.

  8. Lauren says:

     You handled that way better than I would have haha – if someone honks at me, I take the entire lane and slooooow down. Probably not the best course of action if I don’t want to get run over, eh.

    I think the best part of this is that she ended up getting stuck in a line of traffic while you casually zoomed by. I love when that happens! :)

  9. “crazed screeching” – I like that! : )

  10. Bigbugpaul says:

    You are truely a classy person,The way you handled this rude driver makes all bike riders look better,Thank You!!!  

    • LGRAB says:

      In the moment I was mostly scared to do or say anything to make the driver harm me or escalate the situation. So I really cannot accept much credit for classiness, but thank you for your kind words. :)

  11. melissa Stoneking says:

    Move to Denver! I haven’t been yelled at once! 

  12. melissa Stoneking says:

    Move to Denver! I haven’t been yelled at once! 

  13. jb says:

    Happened to me twice already today. Horrible feeling. I am impressed by your calmness, I usually yell back and it just makes the whole thing worse. 

  14. Rachel P. says:

    Whenever people yell stuff like that to me I just think, “You’re just jealous!”

  15. Robotmonkey79 says:

    Uuugh, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who this happens to. I just got yelled at by a driver on my way home. Like you, I was just beyond the door zone on a two lane street that was not heavily trafficed at the moment. An SUV blew past me and told me to, “WATCH IT!!!!” There wasn’t anybody else in the left hand lane so the driver could have easily swerved around me without slowing down. It was just the principal that I was in HER road. Not only did I think about it all the way home, the fact that there are people out there like this driver makes me feel unsafe. I actually questioned whether I should be using this particular route to work. I hate that a normal commute was turned into a negative experience for me by one jerky driver. I shouldn’t have to question my decisions about how to transport myself to and from work because one asshole doesn’t like to look at bikes in the road… in the freakin’ bike lane.
    Tangent: Does anybody else find cycling on major roads during rush hour slightly easier than in non-peak times? Sure there are more cars but they all move slower. Nobody tells me to get out of the way because everybody on a traffic clogged street is in somebody’s way. Jerks breezing around in the middle of the day feel entitled to go 50MPH on a half empty road. Just a thought. 

    • Carolyn Rial says:

      Agree.  Also, I think the rush hour folks are more used to seeing cyclists, at least where I am (small town upstate NY).  Yesterday I had an after-lunch appt across town and got more harassment in my 25 minute trip back to the office than I’ve had all year, commuting and riding around town at other times of day. Yes, Mr. DPW, maybe riding my bike “is gonna kill” me, as you shouted at me as you passed, but driving is dangerous too, don’t you know?  Folks are crazy sometimes. 

      BTW, I’m not much of a commenter, but have to say that LGRAB (along with a few other blogs) convinced me that riding 5 miles to my job in work clothes wasn’t insane, and along the way I fell in love with cycling.  Thank you, Dottie and Trisha!  You have impact beyond what you know, every single day. 

  16. Robotmonkey79 says:

    Uuugh, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who this happens to. I just got yelled at by a driver on my way home. Like you, I was just beyond the door zone on a two lane street that was not heavily trafficed at the moment. An SUV blew past me and told me to, “WATCH IT!!!!” There wasn’t anybody else in the left hand lane so the driver could have easily swerved around me without slowing down. It was just the principal that I was in HER road. Not only did I think about it all the way home, the fact that there are people out there like this driver makes me feel unsafe. I actually questioned whether I should be using this particular route to work. I hate that a normal commute was turned into a negative experience for me by one jerky driver. I shouldn’t have to question my decisions about how to transport myself to and from work because one asshole doesn’t like to look at bikes in the road… in the freakin’ bike lane.
    Tangent: Does anybody else find cycling on major roads during rush hour slightly easier than in non-peak times? Sure there are more cars but they all move slower. Nobody tells me to get out of the way because everybody on a traffic clogged street is in somebody’s way. Jerks breezing around in the middle of the day feel entitled to go 50MPH on a half empty road. Just a thought. 

  17. Ridonrides says:

    people like that only yell things out the window, but would never confront you in the street.  they are cowards and they feel comfortable yelling these things, because they feel protected in their car. 

  18. steve_a_dfw says:

    Three feet is still in the door zone. That driver probably would have been no more abusive had you been at five or six feet. Be safe!

  19. Amanda says:

    This always makes me so sad. I’m sorry you had to deal with it (and impressed that you were so good about it). I get upset and swear usually. It always leaves me so shaken up. :(

  20. Amanda says:

    This always makes me so sad. I’m sorry you had to deal with it (and impressed that you were so good about it). I get upset and swear usually. It always leaves me so shaken up. :(

  21. TrekRiderMark says:

    I love classy people!  They are always good for a laugh.

    Apparently holding them up for 5-seconds is a direct path to ruin their day.  Amazing how many people do not step back and realize that they are not saving time by acting the way they are.  Impatience, what a common quality in the United States today.  It is truly sad.

    Just keep pedaling with a smile on your face!

  22. Chelsea says:

    I was called an asshole by an old lady the other day. She was slowly crossing Halsted where there was no stop sign or stop light and I was going too fast to full on stop, so I passed behind her as not to have her walk right into me. However I don’t handle rude remarks as politely as you do!

  23. Turbinedog says:

    Ah Chicago. A visit to the Field Museum concluded at the same unfortunate time of a Bears game getting out.  In the gridlock three or four cars ahead of me, I witnessed an argument between two cars escalate from yelling, to sodas being thrown, and then a pistol being pointed.     Thankfully no firing ensued.    All a bit too much for my small town sensitivities. :)

  24. Rhymes says:

    I’m sorry that you had to endure that episode, but it sounds as if you’re handling it just fine.  I received an ugly gesture while driving (shoulda been cycling) last week, and it still seems so unnecessary and rude. 
    The bike trail is almost universally friendly, at least!

  25. Sam says:

    I’ve been called a fag, which confused me. I’m bike curious

    Har. har.

    Don’t mind me.

  26. Sam says:

    I’ve been called a fag, which confused me. I’m bike curious

    Har. har.

    Don’t mind me.

  27. [...] Go Ride a Bike wrote about summer being “jerk season,” or the time of year when she actually hears the things drivers yell out of car windows at [...]

  28. Bummer that you had a bad encounter with one of the crazies. I’ve had similar experiences with drivers, but I’ve also had positive encounters because of rolled-down windows. Examples here: http://girlsbikingtowork.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/interacting-with-drivers-a-two-way-street/

  29. Bummer that you had a bad encounter with one of the crazies. I’ve had similar experiences with drivers, but I’ve also had positive encounters because of rolled-down windows. Examples here: http://girlsbikingtowork.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/interacting-with-drivers-a-two-way-street/

  30. [...] also brings out the worst in some drivers, and can be what Dottie from LGRAB calls “Jerk Season“. I have found that since riding again after a recent poor health hiatus, I have encountered [...]

  31. Liam Phelan says:

    Well you did right in ignoring her. I think that pisses them off even more when you ignore them which is a great plus and a good way to get your own back. It never quite feels like a victory though.

  32. [...] cyclists here – it is contributed to by the general frustration of driving in traffic. I have read on LGRAB about “jerk season” and we have this phenonenon also, but here it is year round as our winters are not so cold that [...]

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