Jerk Season

I am tired. Of aggressive and ignorant jerks. Guys in Land Rovers who pass dangerously close. And then roll down the window to lecture me on how I’m not supposed to be riding in the middle of the (small one-way) road. Because they are faster. Therefore I should move over. Never mind that riding up against parked cars is the most dangerous way to ride in the city. They need to pass me and that’s all that matters. Because they are so fast, even though somehow I catch up with them at the red lights.

They tell me to “share the road.” Which means stay the fuck out of their way. Because they have “their side” and I have “my side.” Which apparently is the gutter.

I wish. I wish I wish I wish that these guys (always guys) would leave me alone to get home in peace. And that I could stop my blood from boiling every time they bother me. Stop myself from reacting. Why do I let them get to me?

I am a woman peacefully riding a happy bike. In a dress. In the dark. In the rain. In my neighborhood. What is their problem?

Five months of daily winter riding – not one problem with a driver. Now in the summer all the jerks come out. Maybe Chicago is too aggressive for me. This type of scenario should not be normal.

{I was planning to use these pictures to talk about my lovely ride to see the Evelyn Evelyn / Amanda Palmer show. Too bad all of that changed one block from home.}

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147 thoughts on “Jerk Season

  1. K6-III says:

    Noticing the same agressive behavior coming out to play this summer in NYC. Noticed something similar in Minneapolis every summer as well.

    • Anne Hawley says:

      Oh, ick! I don’t get too much of that anymore because I’m old and look like their moms, and jerks like that probably fear their moms. As they should!

      I’m so sorry bad behavior ruined what should have been the nicest of nice city rides. Your coordinated bike-dress outfit is gorgeous anyway!

  2. Krysta says:

    I HATE when this happens. Seriously the emotional breakdown I have when this happens to me. I get sooo angry that I don’t think rationally and then the next thing I know I’m crying and thinking of all the mean things I can do to them and of course my 2 year old can’t figure out why I’m upset at some jerk who almost kills us both. Why are people always in such a hurry, why do they think they can do stuff like that. Seriously I just wish I could let it go but if it is inexcusable if I was a car then why do they think it’s okay when I don’t have a steel encasement. Anyway I’m sure I we could both rant on together for hours. Thanks for posting this. I know it’s nice to get the anger out somehow. And thanks for helping me to get back on my bike after stuff like this happens.

    • Marcella says:

      I have found that the best way to handle anger against ignorance is, to remember that “everyone is doing the best that they can at this time in their life”. Then, remember that you can’t control others, only your own emotional reaction, then to go one step further, (this is kind of new-agey) imagine love building up in your chest (like spun pink cotton candy) and then sending it out to that person. You WILL feel better.

  3. Margo says:

    Ugh. What gets me the most is when they shout about how stupid (or rather, “fucking stupid”) I am– for, I don’t know, not riding on the sidewalk? It makes me wish I had the time and/or presence of mind to respond with something along the lines of:

    “Excuse me, sirs, but I do believe that if you will kindly refer to Massachusetts laws regarding vehicular cycling, you will find that I am, in fact, legally entitled to take the entire lane when I feel my safety dictates it. Thank you for your understanding, and I do look forward to not being run over by you in the future!”

    Maybe? So sorry those poopheads put a damper on your evening!

  4. Daniella says:

    Aw, i’m sorry to hear that! I haven’t been right on busy roads too much this season for fear of exactly that. I know very well i’d get pretty annoyed!

    • Dottie says:

      This actually happened on a quiet neighborhood side street. I decided to ride on this street so that I would not have to deal with traffic.

      • Zweiradler says:

        That’s really bad, I’m sorry to hear that.
        I wonder why driving licences get handed out to people who don’t know the law and/or refuse to use their brain.


  5. There’s not much sense in wasting thought on the thoughtless, or emotional energy on emotional simpletons. Blend as best you can. Wave and smile and send them on their way. Don’t validate their hate by going there with them. They were probably there already. We may be able to nudge them in the right direction with with kindness and infinite patience, to extract them from their nasty hell of error and car-ego, but that’s no small order.

  6. Miss Sarah says:

    Are they wearing shirts? When I imagine these d-bags I imagine them without shirts, and tacky arm band tattoos.

    But maybe I’m thinking of the pick up truck crowd, not the land rovers?

    And yes I know. Serious generalizing happening right here.

    Serenity now!

    • Dottie says:

      LOL. The Land Rover guys I deal with are usually of the wealthy and entitled former frat boy variety. /end generalization

      • Adrienne says:

        I had one pull up next to me to call me a “F’ing stupid c–t” while my son was sitting on the back of my bike and my daughter was riding behind me. He got a little tongue tied when I nodded to the empty child seat in the back of his BMW and asked him if he kissed his wife and child with that mouth that I am sure his Mother was super proud of right now.

  7. LC says:

    Dottie I am so sorry it turned your post sour. I know what you mean, it happens to me here too on a regular basis, and yes I completely agree that the sunshine brings out all the jerks… I think it’s the negative side of sunshine… it makes some people very cocky indeed!

    Don’t let it get to you though honestly, you are giving them a double winner, to endanger you on the road and to get to you emotionally!

    When this kind of stuff happens to me, I smile and shake my head and I do say out loud ‘you are so pathetic’, usually either they hear me or another nearby car does (which is always a good way to raise awareness) and another way I found very effective is that I clap my hands at them: a sarcastic ‘well done’. It diffuses my anger, it gets reaction of people noticing other drivers’ bad behaviour and hopefully they will take more care and I just think to myself how sorry I feel for those jerks, coz they are the losers not me.

    This only takes few seconds (rather than my lengthy comment) but it does wonders to keeping me calm :D

    If they are seriously close to hurting me or others, I have taken the number plates down and reported to the police. At least if they then find a patterned behaviour then they can do something about it :)

    Happy serene cycling! x

  8. anna says:

    I’m sad to hear about your recent encounter. Luckily such things don’t happen too often to me (apart from parking on bike lanes, which is quite common here), but whenever they do it makes me really. It’s sad that some people rather risk my life than missing a green light, which they probably miss anyhow. I just don’t get it. Sometimes I think it’s too easy to get a driver’s license. Most people are just not aware of the fact that they can kill or seriously injure people by behaving selfish in a car. Unfortunately one is almost powerless against such behaviour. Just being selfish yourself helps a little (at least against car drivers, not against pedestrians though). Sometimes thick skin is needed when cycling on the road. Just because of such jerks. I hate it, too.

  9. So sorry to hear that! You ask “why”? Because you are a woman (fragile, and no risks for them…), riding a fragile bicycle (they are protected by their car, or they think so…), and because they are assholes!
    As a man, I rarely faced such guys while riding my bike, but if there are no words exchanged, cyclists are everyday brushed by car drivers, which means exactly the same: “Get out of MY road!”…
    The best way is to ignore them, or really face them, when they have been too dangerous, or stupid; they can’t imagine a rebellion from the cyclist. Anyway, keep you safe!

    • Dottie says:

      Yeah, you’re onto something. At first I was thinking, what kind of man would not be ashamed to treat a woman in a more vulnerable position like that. Then I realized it’s probably because of that he feels free to act out that way.

      • neighbourtease says:

        I think it’s a turn-on for a particular type of guy. The most disgusting type, of course.

  10. philippe says:

    A guy in a land rover in Chicago ? call him Daktari and aski him why he let the chimpanzee drive.
    Or, since they’re guys and you’re a woman, be ironic about that huge car they got. They will get the innuendo.
    Or just plaiun ignore them.
    Anyway, hold your ground. You’re right and they’re not. You know it.

  11. Elisa M says:

    I could barely read this without raising my voice to the computer, saying “I know!” and “Why can’t they just leave us alone”. Not sure why jerk o meters seem to go off more in the summer; maybe in the winter they feel badly for us, or are too busy trying to warm up to notice. Either way, it is so annoying!

    • Margo says:

      Summer = open windows = effortless jerk-shouting. Though I definitely have gotten the cold weather roll-down-the-windows-expressly-to-shout as well… But it just makes it that much easier for someone in a big, closed box to be thoughtless and rude.

      • Scott says:

        Yeah! This morning I was signaling to turn left as a bunch of cars were slowing down to stop at a red light. This d-bag in a BMW saw me signaling, but wouldn’t slow down to let me get in the turn lane and blocked me by pulling right up to the red light. I said “Please, after you” as I walked around his car to get to the turn lane. Then I realized he heard me b/c his sunroof was open. He looked a little embarrassed as he had to sit there at the red light next to me for a minute.

      • Coreen says:

        I was thinking the same thing. Whenever someone (usually in a pickup truck) yells at me in the winter, I’m always like, “wow, it’s -20 out here and you’re so intent on proving you’re a jerk that you’ll freeze your face off to do it?”

  12. Amy says:

    I just put the headphones on and crank the music up, that way I never hear them. It doesn’t do any good for the people who pass WAY too close (like the COP did yesterday, I swear he almost clipped my left grip), or the people who try to pass really fast and close to try and get past me before they have the head on collision with the oncoming car.

  13. Tom says:

    Maybe it’s just an anomaly, tomorrow will be a brighter day.

  14. That seriously SUCKS!

    I’m so sorry!!!

  15. Chip V. says:

    Ms. Dottie:

    You are cordially invited to Miami, where we have world-class jerks. Drunken jerks. Drug-crazed jerks. Armed jerks. Jerks who never drove anything faster than a donkey before. Oh, wait. In Chicago you have all that plus snow and ice. Sorry for your experience.

  16. Dottie says:

    Waking up to so many supportive comments is really nice! It sucks that so many people experience the same behavior, but it’s great that we can vent together and support each other :)

  17. WiscJennyAnn says:

    Aw, I’m so sorry! That’s the worst! Well, if you get fed up with Chicago, come try the Netherlands where bikes rule the streets! (Although here sometimes cyclists are the jerks, terrorizing pedestrians :S )

  18. neighbourtease says:

    ugh ugh ugh. This is happening more in NYC, too. I definitely relate it to the good weather, too. I had three guys in a pick-up screaming at me for pulling up next to them and then moving to the left into the bike box at a red light. “What WHAT you gonna cut me OFF?” When I said “I am turning left and we are not actually moving” the guys was like “OH OH OH OK.” Oh I am SO GLAD it’s ok with you. Total idiot!

    Judging by the comments made anonymously on any article about improvements in bike infrastructure that runs in the local tabloids we have now reached a turning point wherein the increased number of cyclists and “concessions” made to them has really driven a subset of aggressive drivers absolutely crazy. The comments you read after a news piece about a bike lane being installed have no relationship to reason and no origin in logic. The idea that one can behave as one wants in a car is pervasive and intense. I think for some people it’s the only sense of power they feel and they are absolutely hysterical about giving even a shred of it up. I can kind of find my compassion sometimes if I go that direction but mostly I just file those men under D for dick and ride away as soon as I can.

    • Dottie says:

      I don’t let myself read the comments sections of online newspapers any more – the most crazed and ignorant people are obsessed with posting there.

  19. Louisa says:

    Here in Philly too. I deal with it on a near daily basis. Most of the time it’s the typical passing too close, honking, etc, but on occasion it’s been much worse.

    On my commute route home, there’s a particularly dangerous spot on the road, where a bike lane merges into traffic and becomes a thin strip between a right-turn lane (onto a highway overpass) and another lane of traffic. One day last November, I had a guy pass me on the right (in the turn lane), cut back over the bike lane to continue straight, then stop at a red light to yell at me for being “in the middle of the road.” When I pointed out that I was in a bike lane with a bicycle clearly printed on it, and that he had illegally passed in the turn lane, he called me an a**hole and asked if it would matter whether or not I was in a bike lane if he hit me with his car. Disturbing, no?

    Two weeks ago, I had a particularly scary incident as I got on my bike to leave work. I was on the shoulder of the road, waiting for a line of cars to pass. An SUV with tinted windows came flying directly at me. I thought, “this is it, I’m going to die. He’s going to hit me and I’ll fly off my bike and onto the sidewalk.” At the last second, he swerved away, and yelled something about “p***y on a little bike.”

    Some people are courteous and respectful, but incidents like these give me plenty of reasons to assume that ALL drivers would like to see me dead, and ride accordingly.

    • Dottie says:

      That is way disturbing. Cars are dangerous weapons and any crazy, misogynistic, stupid fool is allowed to tear through the streets terrorizing anyone they want. There is barely any enforcement against such behavior. I’ve never seen any.

  20. Sean says:

    As terrible as it sounds, I almost wish for the return of winter as well. I found motorists gave me more room on the roads in winter and a cannot remember a single instance from last winter where a motorist was aggressive.

    Summertime? Very different story.

    It is really hard not to get worked up after confrontations like you describe but it is worth trying to stay calm.

    Stay safe!

  21. Holly says:

    I share your frustration! What sucks is that it’s so difficult to stay calm and get over it. I end up riding the next few blocks thinking of things I’d say if I had the opportunity. You, know I used to wave a friendly “Hello” to people and smile when they acted like jackasses. I think it ticked them off even more once we met each other at the STOP light where we BOTH had to stop just moments after the horn honking, yelling and/or rudeness.

    Now, I just grit my teeth. Or worse, I’ll shout at them in my less than ladylike vocabulary. Not pretty, I know, but sometimes, I’m tired or hungry or frustrated after a day at work. Dang it, Dottie. These car driver’s shouldn’t have the power to deflate us.

    Be safe, lady.

    • Dottie says:

      I know, I’ll spend the rest of the ride obsessing about what I would/could/should say to the driver. Heck, I’m still obsessing over what I should have said to this moron.

  22. Step-Through says:

    I’ve noticed some jerkish behavior on the first warm day or two of spring, but it goes back to normal pretty quickly. Long weekends might have a little spike as well.

    Mean drivers are a really weird phenomenon though. I’m pretty sure that if we were just standing next to each other, in the grocery store or something, they would be perfectly nice. Something about being in charge of a car or truck brings out the bad behavior – the power and the anonymity of not being face-to-face. It’s like the Ironman suit or something (I’m not really into comics so I don’t know if that’s the best example…). All that power goes to peoples’ heads.

    But, I also think they feel vulnerable. Like, I think they generally feel that their actions behind the wheel have no consequences because everyone is supposed to be protected by their airbags and crumple zones (not true, of course, but that’s kind of the perception). They get angry because they have to be responsible for their actions around actual living people. Just my theory.

    But they are the exception, and we can’t let them turn our streets into a conflict zone. The more people get out on foot or bicycle, even occasionally, the more they will lose some of that hostile attitude. As cyclists, I think our best approach is keep riding, be polite and friendly, communicate with hand signals, and generally be assertive and lawful on the road.

  23. bongobike says:

    Thankfully, I rarely get harassed in Austin. In fact, it’s been a very long time since I had someone intentionally do something to piss me off. To those who yell “share the road!” I would give a thumbs up and say “yeah!” whether they meant it in a sarcastic way or not. That is a good way to disarm them. To those who get a bit nasty, I would say “learn to drive and get a life.” And of course, be ready with pen and paper to write down license plates and descriptions, just in case.

  24. Eric says:

    I think people act this way because when they sit in traffic for 45 minutes trying to make a 3 mile trip across town, it becomes painfully obvious that human beings were not meant to spend any portion of their lives in that way. It’s what breeds road rage and general discourtesy on the road, and a bicycle blocking your path down a street becomes a personal affront. It’s the same type of angst that causes so many car drivers have such a problem with bicyclists safely rolling through stop signs and red lights; it’s not fair if everyone doesn’t suffer the same way they are suffering. By letting people like this get you upset, they’ve accomplished their goal of sharing their suffering.

    I’m not trying to excuse dangerous or aggressive behavior, but I think it helps to try to understand where it comes from.

  25. James says:

    I had an experience this morning that made me realize how idiotic some of these clowns can be. I was crossing Sheridan at Aldine to hit the lakefront path and as I was going across the crosswalk (you know, the “safe zone” for people not in cars/buses) I had to wait for some cars to pass heading north and some guy making a left off of Aldine onto Sheridan starts honking at me and telling me to “move my fat “. Well, sadly I lost it and went right back at him and of course he drove off in his $100k Audi (after threatening me…) because its easy to yell threats at someone from a car and then scoot when they fire back at ya. As an aside, he was pissed because he pulled into southbound traffic without thinking and that is what got him so ticked off. I hope I ruined his day…sorry, but I do. Riding in the city is still the best experience, but there are some who seem to like to mess it up for us from time to time.

    For the record, I am simply big, not fat…and I was wearing an oversized sweatshirt…and cargo shorts, which can just add 10 or so pounds…just sayin’ :)

    • Dottie says:

      Aldine and Sheridan is where I get on the path, too. That crosswalk is a joke. Even bus drivers usually stop their buses right over it, blocking any path we could have if any car actually yielded. And, of course, there’s always the car behind that you know is going to turn left in your path as soon as you start to cross.

  26. Carolyn I. says:

    There are jerks here too, thinking we shouldn’t be on the road! The heck with them! :)

    One journalist in our local Free Press writes a weekly column on bad car driving and bad bicycling/pedestrians too. He saw one bicyclist ‘blow’ a red light the other day and his feeling towards bicyclists is “Tell me again why I should respect cyclists when they don’t respect the rules of the road.” Are bad bicyclists making automobile drivers hate us more? Is that part of the reason why there seems to be so many ‘jerks’ on the road, thinking we are all bad bicyclists?

    The article is here, small bit on bike-

    (I admit though, sometimes if there are no cars at a stop sign, red light etc…I will do a rolling stop, but only if safe to do so.)

    • kristin says:

      ugh, that is such a stupid argument, which is used all the time by lazy and ignorant people to lump a whole category of people into one, easily-hate-able group. there are plenty of times when i don’t obey the rules for my own safety. what’s the worst that could happen if a bike runs a stop sign? a car gets banged up. now what’s the worst that could happen if a car does? death.

  27. Randy says:

    One thing I have noticed that works is if you just turn around and look at them when you sense or see that they are trying to pass you in a bad location. For some reason when you make eye contact with them, you actually become a real person to them. Weird, I know, but it works, most of the time.

    • Dottie says:

      True, usually. Definitely not in this case, but I do usually look back when I need to move over for this reason, even though I can see everything in my rear-view mirror.

  28. Elena says:

    Ah, weird coincidence. I was hit by a Land Rover last night! I’m ok, but only because I knew he wasn’t stopping and had slowed down enough for the impact to be minor. ACK!

  29. Nadine says:

    That’s awful! I think the only way motorists will figure out how to deal with bikes is by seeing more of them, so you’re fighting the good fight. There should be some sort of karmic system where drivers who harass cyclists have to commute by bike for a week. Not as punishment, but more of a mind-clearing exercise. They might see that it’s fun and also get a better appreciation for those of us on bikes.

    • Dottie says:

      I think that’s the last thing I yelled at this a-hole, “Try riding a bike sometime!” I know, not a very biting remark, but I was trying to get across exactly what you said here :)

  30. Holly says:

    Randy–you are exactly right. Eye contact is often been a great way to humanize “person on bicycle.” I notice it does work. (And I try not to give ’em the stink eye, either!)

  31. Step-Through says:

    I’ve often thought that most moving violations (such as speeding tickets) should result in a temporary license suspension, from a week up to many months depending on the severity. That would get people to take traffic laws more seriously, and expose them to other modes of travel.

    Rumor has it that many governments consider license suspension too much of a “hardship” to do this. Yeah, ’cause its much better to let people get hurt or to marginalize anyone who isn’t motoring…

    • Dottie says:

      I agree! If suspension is such a hardship, then maybe people … won’t break the law. Genius! What hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

  32. John says:

    It’s interesting how weather does affect the atmosphere of the city road.

    From my experiences in Chicago:

    When it’s sunny and nice out, there’s a seething angst.

    When it’s raining, there’s a weird mania.

    When it’s mild, there’s a calm order.

    When it’s cold, there’s a quiet respect.

  33. kristin says:

    hey! i have gotten lectured by WOMEN as well – it seems to me those in big SUVs are more likely to yell at you.

  34. Beany says:

    Wow can I empathize. I wish no one had to go through this anywhere. The mean thoughts I used to dream up were incredible. I know they were a reaction to these asswipes, but so hard to not enjoy these thoughts.

    My husband has one strategy I’ll divulge. He gives out a dollar bill to anyone that does something mean (he rides up to them and hands it over). Since nothing is free, he is thanking the driver for teaching him a lesson and is paying them back for the lesson. Also he saw his life flash before his eyes, and that imagery isn’t free either. Usually the driver immediately backs down or is confused or tries to back pedal and justify their behavior.

    I’m a waver. I wave cheerily at everyone. I’m also working on my spontaneous belly laugh. I want to get to a point where I can point and laugh – who likes being laughed at?

  35. meligrosa says:

    that’s when u bust out your camera and take a snap
    and also plates
    at least that ses > you on the interwebs fcuker – good luck!

  36. david says:

    Everyone, be careful out there.

  37. Step-Through says:

    Hey, those guys who are driving a big SUV and being jerks because of their insecurities – can we call them “Jerk Chicken?”

    • Dottie says:

      I like it. I wonder if they would get the joke (on them)? Even if not, at least it would make me smile. :)

  38. I’m a little surprised that you’re getting much guff on that Dutch bike. I find that I seem to get more respect from drivers when I’m riding my Dutch, compared to my other bikes.

    What’s with the Landrovers? Last week, I had a woman practically try to run me off the road, because I dared to grab some real estate on the road. Thankfully, she didn’t make the light ahead, and I got to make her aware of the police car police car behind us. She didn’t like that and told me to stay off the road, at which point I suggested that she take her Landrover back to the suburbs.

    I general, I’d have to say that drivers in Mpls. are getting better at dealing with bikes. There are more cyclists than ever before and crowds have power. I had a woman apologize the other day because she was stopped in the crosswalk of bike path at the light. That people are realizing that there are other people, besides “cars” is progress.

    I feel your pain, but hope you just keep on riding, encouraging other people to hop on, too.

  39. Matt says:

    Every spring I see more and more cyclists on the roads here in Edmonton, the car friendliest city in Canada. As a cyclist I get frustrated seeing how many others ride on the sidewalk, don’t signal, ride across crosswalks, ride on the wrong side of the street, and just generally give cyclists a bad name. Most of this activity takes place in the spring. I would bet the this guy is 65% d-bag, 35% frustrated at another cyclist that had nothing to do with you.

    • Dottie says:

      I’m not willing to hoist 35% of the blame on the cycling population. I know the increased number of cyclists in the summer annoys some drivers, but there’s no basis for such a conclusion to write off 35% of his responsibility here. This guy very clearly focused on me and pointed out that “my boyfriend” and “that other guy” (pointing to another cyclist) “got out of his way” but that I purposely rode in the middle of the lane.

      • Matt says:

        Alright, I wasn’t there and will certainly concede the point in this case. From reading the other comments I’m obviously shielded from this abuse just by being a 6’4″ man. But I do ride on the street, signal, and obey the rules. I would like to caution the people recommending headphones though. Being aware in traffic is more likely to save you than the painted lines of a bike lane.

  40. sara says:

    We’ve been hearing a lot of honks and yelled comments, too. I don’t know if it because the weather is warm so there are tons more bikes out so drivers are getting frustrated with more bike riders– but I swear I heard so much less this winter. I must admit that while I am getting frustrated about stinky drivers, I am also getting very frustrated with cyclists who are riding super dangerously too. I think that makes it bad for all cyclists.

    I will say that last week, I was brushed by a car for the first time. The driver was a WOMAN. She honked, drove by me way too clos,e & brushed up against my foot, & promptly had to stop at a red light. My husband who was riding in front of me very calmly went up to her window to tell her about the 3 ft passing law & the fact she had brushed me. She was talking on a hand-held cell phone (law #2 she was breaking) & totally sped off when the light changed….

    • Dottie says:

      Oh, my gosh. That’s awful! People like that should be arrested and have a couple of nights in jail to think about their actions.

  41. cycler says:

    I had one of these yesterday- a woman driving a prius who was all angry that I was in the left lane (I was going to turn left)
    She slid through a tiny gap between me and a school bus so that she could get to the red light 15 seconds before me.
    When I told her that she really frightened me (I tried to be calm and reasonable) she went off on me- I should be on the right, I should be off the street, I was slowing everyone down (I was moving faster than the school bus for the block I was on the left)
    All this to say- I know how you feel- it burns me up for hours or days when it happens. Fortunately thats what this community is for- support and reassurance. I’m glad that it’s here for all of us, but I wish we didn’t have this kind of event to sympathize with you about.
    Ride safe and don’t let the bastards keep you down :)

    • Dottie says:

      The Prius! Both Trish and I have been honked at by the almighty Prius driver. All the smug emissions getting to their heads ;)

      • Dave says:

        I will admit that Portland is a bit of a Prius-ville (there’s a joke that anything will be popular in Portland that you can be pretentious about). Thankfully most of them still drive decently, even if they do feel really good about themselves :)

  42. donnarino says:

    You’ll find the same jerks no matter where you live.

  43. donnarino says:

    Recently I signalled that I wanted to move into the left turning lane and the guy behind me was obviously very upset that in doing so I cut him off because he made sure to yell “nice riding” and gave me the finger as he sped off. Nevermind that I signalled, and there were two other cars ahead of me waiting to turn left so he would have been stuck behind them as well. jerk. hope I run into him again so I can explain the rules of the road to him.

  44. Dwainedibbly says:

    Lovely blog, lovely bike, lovely dress, lovely person.
    Don’t let the jerks get you down.

  45. katie says:

    Oh damn Dottie! Yeah we all deal with jerks… heck, in my case, it’s been a policeman who “whooped” his siren at me to get off the road cause of course I go too slow.

  46. Maria says:

    My five year old daughter and I were acosted while riding a couple of weeks ago, in our very quite neighborhood! We were at a stoplight over to the right but in the street, of course. I’m adamant that my kids learn to ride in the streets whenever it’s safe to do so.
    A car full of dumbass cigarette smoking high school kids pulled up ridiculously close to us and started yelling (all six of them) at me to “get off the road! what kind of mama are you to have your baby on the road you bitch.” and on and on. I told them that in fact THEY were the one’s currently breaking Colorado bike law but they couldn’t hear me over their yelling – nor did they care of course. All the while their friends in another car were behind us wanting to turn – honking madly. I totally would have gotten out of the way for someone wanting to turn if the yelling kids car hadn’t been in the way.

    I pulled out my phone to take pics but the light turned and they all spend away. Assholes.

    Fortunately, my daughter wasn’t scared at all and said, “Mom, we should give those dumb kids a talking to!” LOL!

  47. carfreepvd says:

    In times like these, we must think of what the Bike Snob might do and remember his wise words:


    (The H referring to the Range Rover drivers).

  48. Traci says:

    Ugh – rude drivers really get to me! I’m just beginning to ride and am hoping to make it to work eventually (it’s 6-7 miles, which isn’t much for most, but with hills, it’s a killer for me!). My husband has been riding for several years mostly for exercise, so he regularly does anywhere from 30-60 miles a day. Just this week he had a guy (in a truck of course – we’re in GA after all) pass him on a quiet side road and make a point to yell at him “use the bike lane!!” My husband was like WHAT bike lane??? In this particular area, there is a white line painted down the side of the road that sporadically changes from about 3 inches to less than a foot wide – it’s actually more the shoulder of the road than a bike lane and people place their garbage cans in it, etc. But the BEST part of all was the fact that the guy yelling at him was the MINISTER of a local church AND happens to be one of our neighbors!!!! Can you believe that?! I don’t think he ever realized who my husband was (he dresses in the lycra gear and gets the “hey Lance” comments when he rides – haha). I’m tempted to post something about rude drivers yelling at bikers on our neighborhood email list (without naming names) and see what he says to that!

    • Dottie says:

      I’m happy to hear that your starting to ride regularly and hope you keep it up! You should totally post that to your neighborhood email list. People – ministers! – need to understand that the cyclists they’re assaulting are human beings, even neighbors.

  49. Stephen says:

    Dottie (and all the other women who have been or felt victimized),

    I am a guy. Not one of THOSE guys, but a guy. An ‘Merikan guy. A dude.

    And I am so sorry for the actions of many of my gender. I can’t really explain; I don’t do stupid stuff like that, but I’ve been accused while riding a bicycle of being gay by aggressive drivers, including one wonky, fat white guy locally who’s a Republican political operative (and in the best guy fashion, I’d like to drag him out of his vehicle, strip him to nakedness, kick his ass, and throw his keys down the stormwater drain). It pisses me off royally that I see so many large pickup trucks locally, driven by white punks who should be defendin’ our freedoms in Afghanistan instead, and huge SUVs driven by the clueless, including women talking on cell phones. One of those _____ are going to kill me one day.

    I can just see the white guys in the Land Rovers lording it (note that specific word, which indicates the timelessness of such arrogance, and where it originates from) over women, people of color, people both young and old, and it just burns my ass big-time. I hate it just as much as you do, but it is a disease of our times, as it was when white Ulster men rode horses and shat upon those on foot so many generations ago.

    • Dottie says:

      A lot of drivers of big vehicles do use them to lord over others, especially in a city as crowded with pedestrians and cyclists as Chicago.

  50. Jim Duncan says:

    I myself am tempted to start using a helmet mounted video camera to catch these potential life-takers in the act. In their world where “it’s all about ME,”many of these offenders would consider themselves persons of refinement and manners and never think that they are the criminal idiots on the evening news segment about road rage. More of these folks need to spend time in jail.

    • Dottie says:

      My husband is also thinking about buying a helmet cam. I think such a device would make me focus a little too much on capturing the bad drivers.

    • Louisa says:

      I’ve thought about getting a helmet cam too. I wish I’d had one during my scary incident a few weeks ago (detailed in a comment above). The guy was driving so fast, and I was so shaken that there’s no way I could have caught his license number.

  51. adam says:

    Sucks to hell, I know.

    I agree with one of the first comments that said you should drown them out with headphones (at least when the seasonal axe body spray pheromones are high) so you can ignore their transgressions.

    Personally, I am more offended by people (men and women) who come close to killing me without any clue that it happened. Occurred today on my way to pick up my son from daycare–guy and his wife/girlfriend darted in front of me with a speedy left hand turn causing me to nearly topple. I pulled over the bike and walked up to the car and confronted them with “did you even see me???!!!” They had no idea I existed of course–even with my big ass cargobike. I can easily shrug off verbal abuse, however, near-death experiences are hard to overcome.

    Keep up the good work. Big ups, yo.

  52. Amy says:

    Sorry to hear that you had an encounter with such a jerk. I sympathize with having your blood boil and not being able to respond to a car that’s passed, or has it’s windows up. Even if they’re in shouting range, it’s not easy finding a reasonable response to an unreasonable action. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments and favored responses to mean drivers.

    For my part, the last encounter I had with a nasty driver was a thankfully short one. I was in the left lane preparing to turn left and the driver that was far behind me in the left lane honked as he passed in the right lane. Seriously unreasonable! Are bikes not allowed to turn left? If I were a car, wouldn’t I also be stopped in the left lane if I were waiting to turn left? Of course, you don’t really need to consider the legality or justness of another persons actions to be able to honk or yell.

    Take care!

  53. E A says:

    Landrovers and other luxury SUVs and sedans – biggest culprits – male and female drivers.

    Last week I got yelled at by the driver of a Cadillac and then nearly run over at an intersection by another Cadillac driver — very different driver demographics — same luxury sedan. And a gorgeous sunny day. Ugh.

    Just stay safe out there. And keep smiling. :-)

    • Dottie says:

      The thought of drivers yelling at you makes me so mad. Clearly, they do not know they’re dealing with the safest, nicest and most conscientiousness cyclist in all of Chicago. Assholes.

  54. Clare Carter says:

    I must admit to being too scared to ride in my city-Sydney.The only bike lanes are the ones mooshed up against the parked cars and as you say so dangerous, and the rest f the time you are battling the traffic.Sydney drivers are very aggressive-wait until you put a cyclist in the mix.Its quite terrifying.No wonder we are one of two countries in the world where helmets are law.Commuters such as yourself dont exist her-they ride in the parks and the few bike paths.The rest ride atack style in their lycra.Its such a shame.I’m sorry you had that experience.I like to think that other countries are filled with happy cyclists and friendly drivers.Clearly idiots are everywhere.

  55. Todd V says:

    Ok, I had one of these incidents this morning. Somehow *I* got yelled at for the slow driving of the car in front of me. As I always do, I told the driver to “just be careful, ok?” let is slide off my back, and moved on with my day.

    Hang in there, folks!

  56. Catherine says:

    My two major blood boiling pet peeves are as follow:

    (1) In Virginia, when you are on a one-way street with more than one lane (ie…the street I live on and many others around my town), it is the law that motorists completely change lanes to get around a cyclist. This NEVER happens and instead I get the too-close breeze by either because the motorist couldn’t wait for the left lane to be open, or because I’m being taught a lesson. Part of me wants to make a sign to attach to the back of the bike.

    (Oh, and by the way, some safety guide I saw somewhere suggests the cyclist take the left lane but that’s not the law and while it makes sense I’m not about to pick that particular fight).

    (2) The cries of “where’s your helmet”, usually given by people I’ve held up for all of 10 seconds on quiet, residential back streets. I don’t want to start the great helmet debate but I will say that the only time I go without is when I’m sticking to my little town (as opposed to commuting to DC or riding in DC, or using the trails). Grid system, 4 way stop signs, 25 mph speed limit and very low traffic on the side streets.

    Either way, it’s my decision, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. It’s patronizing, and I think is done because they’re annoyed I’m there but can’t find anything else to criticize me for. Oddly, I mostly get this from young women, and I don’t know why.

  57. Sophie W. says:

    I found myself nodding my head at all the comments and saying, “Yes! Right! That’s happened to me, too!” Where I live, it’s mostly redneck yahoos in dualies (the huge, bloated-ass double-rear tire pickup trucks.) What makes me laugh at these idiots is the fact that they get out of their trucks at the local beerjoint and they have huge beer bellies. Then I sail by on my bike, nice and trim and feelin’ fine. I just laugh and shake my head at them. I love your website – it inspires me and makes me smile at the beautiful pictures and your enjoyment of biking, so ignore those fools and keep up your fantastic work. We are all on the cutting edge of an incredible movement here, and I think we’ll all look back in a few years (when people have finally realized how absolutely cool and fantastic bikes are) and see that we have been leading the pack. Keep smiling – enjoy the ride!

  58. […] who park in the bike lane are worshipping the wrong God. A report from yet another Tweed ride. It only takes one jerk to ruin a ride. Now you can charge your Nokia cell phone while you ride. The misguided bill […]

  59. Seriously,, though…ALWAYS guys…head up, sister!

    Love your bike to the MAX!

  60. Dottie says:

    This problem taken to its most extreme in San Fran yesterday, where a guy driving an SUV intentionally hunted down and hit four separate, random people riding bikes. Arrested with four counts each of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and felony hit and run. Link to the disturbing story here.

  61. LC says:

    wow! So many comments… interesting read but the more I read the more I am getting worked up, anxious and angry at those crazy drivers… perhaps would be better to breath in, breath out and caaaaaalm down…. I am a cyclist (most of all), a pedestrian, a driver (sometimes) and a motorcycle rider (not so often now) and I hope, I trust I behave with respect and conscience to others on the road etc… it’s about individuals, always, otherwise it risks going down the stereotype road… I love your posts always, I just found myself needed to come up for air reading all these comments :D Important thing is to try and be safe out there. Idiots individuals exists all over the world, in every shape and form and in any mode of transport ;) L xxx

  62. FloridaHoneybee says:

    Hi Dottie:

    On the positive side,

    Once a cyclist saw me and “picked me up.” We “met” at an extremely busy cross section ending off the Florida Turnpike. Difficult to explain but know this: scary!

    He looked back at me and said, “You ready?”

    He led and I followed through HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY South Florida traffic. The road was narrow, no sidewalk and no room for riders on the road (two lane narrow!). We rode fast. I was so afraid. It was exciting and dangerous. At the end -when we parted ways–he looked back nodded and stated casually, “You ride well.” He sped away. Thought that was thoughtful.

    In Florida, the traffic I have found not to be particularly abusive simply unaware. EVERYONE EVERYONE EVERYONE is texting, talking on the cell phone. Heads are down. If you are hit I am sure it will be due to callous disgegard due to electronic technology. Additionally, the driving is quite fast and the Bike Lanes –horrifically narrow.

    I ride a Cannondale BadBoy. I will be selling it soon. I am desperate to get a Dutch Style bicyle. I also own a 1969 Schwinn (LE21147). It is heavy and painful. I want to sell it as well.

    I come to your blog and drool over the Betty. I want the Dutchie to be lightweight. I live on the 2nd floor. 45lbs is simply too much every day. Have looked and test rode the Elektra Amsterdam at my favorite LBS–I want the “real thing”—

  63. Kate says:

    Those jerks can FOADIAF, but I’m sure they would say the same about cyclists who dare to ride on “their” road ;-)

    More importantly, though – how was the show? LOVE Amanda Palmer :-)

  64. kdt says:

    If it’s any help, year after year Land Rovers are found at the bottom of various consumer ‘reliability’ rankings. (I live on Long Island, where Land Rovers and Range Rovers are very popular.) So the drivers of these beasts are the type that have more dollars than sense to begin with.

    Keep up the cycling. Every ride makes an impression. The more of us on bikes, the more the morons will get used to it. (There’s a slogan hidden in there somewhere . . . )

  65. John says:

    I always ride with my 9mm carried in a holster on my left so that drivers can see it. I never have issues with aggressive drivers.

  66. Marion says:

    Hi Dottie! Jerks like that would make a person lose her trust in humanity, so to give you back some of that trust I’ll give you a link to a Dutch tv commercial from the Dutch Ministry of Traffic. The Ministry has this ongoing campaign called ‘Rij met je hart’ (‘Drive with your hart’), to promote good ‘traffic-manic’ (of which too much is never enough).

    The translation of the voice-over is:
    “Modern cars have many parts that protect their driver… Belts, ABS, airbags, crumplezones, ESC… But there is one part of the car that protect *other* roadusers as well.. and that part is in YOU. Drive with your hart.”

    • Dottie says:

      Wow, that video made me tear up a little. I wish those ads would be shown in the U.S. (although they’d have to put a helmet on the woman and take away the kid to minimize “safety” outcry).

  67. scott t says:

    well…if you are driving slowly looking at christmas lights in a car often you will pull over to let others pass.

    thats sharing the road too.

    bikes move slower and generally will cause less drivers to react to them if at the far left of the street – until left turn time arrives. hand or turn signals can help that i suppose.

    • James says:

      There is no excuse to threaten a cyclist with your car, none. Cyclists ride away from parked cars because it is dangerous to ride near them. There is particularly no excuse to threaten a female cyclist by driving too close or persistently beeping at them. Anyone who does this is a low life coward plain and simple.

  68. James says:

    You are the one doing the right thing. You are right. Just think of these drivers as the horrible people that they are. The fact that they would put your life at risk because you are ridding a bike and they incorectly percieve you as holding them up says that they are sub human, lowlife.

    Dont let them put you off. You are a true ambasedor for real cycling. You dont have special bike clothes. You are showing cycling for what it truely is. Normal.  A means of real transport. You are promoting cycling also for the fairer sex, which is a good thing as women are under represented as cyclists.

    The fact that these people would pick on a woman on a bike just makes them cowards. From a blokes perspective you also show real style and how cycling can be feminine as well. You are a role model for how cycling should be.

    I am really against guns, however the bloke (Johns) comment might be something you could consider. After all a cowardly person in a big car frightening or intimidating a cyclist let alone a female cyclist deserves some fear in return I think.

  69. James says:

    You are the one doing the right thing. You are right. Just think of these drivers as the horrible people that they are. The fact that they would put your life at risk because you are ridding a bike and they incorectly percieve you as holding them up says that they are sub human, lowlife.

    Dont let them put you off. You are a true ambasedor for real cycling. You dont have special bike clothes. You are showing cycling for what it truely is. Normal.  A means of real transport. You are promoting cycling also for the fairer sex, which is a good thing as women are under represented as cyclists.

    The fact that these people would pick on a woman on a bike just makes them cowards. From a blokes perspective you also show real style and how cycling can be feminine as well. You are a role model for how cycling should be.

    I am really against guns, however the bloke (Johns) comment might be something you could consider. After all a cowardly person in a big car frightening or intimidating a cyclist let alone a female cyclist deserves some fear in return I think.

  70. addoley says:

    I feel your pain! I was riding in Forest Park here in St Louis (a park!) and some jerk in a truck told me to get the f*** off the road and ride on the sidewalk. Horrible!

  71. Spencer says:

    Oh i doubt that this will make you feel better, but it isn’t just a chciago thing. A “charming” lady in a land rover ( why are people in the biggest most gas guzzling cars the worst offenders.) fled the scene of her running me out of the lane and on to the street car tracks here in Portland, OR. Or as city marking would like you to beleve “America’s biking capital” I hope the extra 45 second she saved by ignoring my exstance was worth it cause she cost me 8 weeks of a bike vacation while my arm was heeling from being broken in 5 places.


  72. Lacey says:

    I deal with this every day in my commute, and it still gets me aggravated. I always have to laugh though when someone is so dead set on passing me as fast as possible, and I end up catching up to them. I have also made a point to draw attention to the drivers that are the rudest, trying to push me out, cut me off or just be a general ass, or just plain not paying attention to other people on the road, when I eventually pass them again (and almost always do) I smile and wave and make eye contact. It makes me feel better. I have to smile or I will gesture them in a less than polite way.

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