I was buzzed on the road the other day – and the motorist did it on purpose. I know this because I followed him home and had a conversation with him.
Here are the facts:
- I was not on the right edge of the road, potholes and road disrepair made that impossible, though when the road improved I moved over.
- Once I moved to the edge of the road (6″ from grass), that’s when the motorist moved to pass.
- The motorist, in a pickup truck, passed me within six inches without crossing the yellow line.
- I was riding at 21 mph.
- The speed limit on the small village road was 25 mph.
- On being passed so close I followed the motorist home.
I could have taken this two ways at this point. I opted for that which had the most potential for good results for cyclists. I chose to talk to the man. Maybe “appeal” would be a better word.
I stopped in the road in front of his house (rather than be confrontational and pull onto his driveway which would technically be trespassing if he asked me to get off his property) and asked, “How about you give us some room out there?”
His response was that he had to pass me that close because there was a double yellow line and he couldn’t cross that and he couldn’t be expected to wait behind me at 10 mph [Ed. Seriously].
I responded, “But I was going 21 mph, not 10”.
His response was priceless, “But the speed limit is 25 mph, what am I supposed to do, wait behind you?” [ED. He buzzed me over 4 mph].
I said, “Look, you could have crossed the double yellow to get around me safely and no cop in his right mind would pull you over for that.”
He continued his protest, “Look, man, you’re no cop so don’t quote the law to me. I couldn’t cross the double yellow and had to get by you.”
I don’t have to point out the idiocy in his thinking.
I said, “Look man, I’ll tell you this. What you did could have killed a less experienced cyclist and if a cop had seen what you did, that’s felony assault with a vehicle and you can take that right to the jail cell.”
At that point he started walking back toward his house and said something unintelligible about “seeing me on the road”. I responded by saying that he would be guaranteed to see me out there because I’d be there”.
This brings me to what I should do now.
First, I’m heading over to the local police station this morning to have a conversation with an officer about that wahoo. He’ll get a visit at, at some point, from an officer who will explain the law to him and that you can’t pass a cyclist within inches because he’s going four miles an hour under the speed limit.
Next, this whole thing was my fault – and I actually made it worse for future cyclists with that guy. I rode too close to the edge of the road – I gave the motorist just enough room to squeeze by me and he took the lane I gave him. It never ceases to amaze me that the rare motorist (and I do mean rare, in 8,000 miles I may see one or two guys like that in a full year – every single one drives a pickup truck) will buzz a cyclist simply to be an asshole. It’s not only that he’s risking the cyclist’s life, but he’s willing to risk prison time just to be a little penis (and I mean tiny). I should have kept my part of the lane, so that the motorist had to cross the yellow to get by me because eventually he’s going to see an average cyclist out there and do the same thing, thinking everyone can maintain control like I did. That motorist could leave this experience believing what he did wasn’t that big a deal and end up killing someone else.
So before that happens, and being the president of our cycling club, I’m going to use this Spring to make a public service announcement that seeks to simplify what the law is (at least in our State) and let’s motorists as well as cyclists, know what is acceptable and what isn’t. This is the main reason I’m going over to the local police station this morning, because one way or another I’m going to get law enforcement involved in this effort as well – so I can produce something that will help ease tensions. That’s what decent people do. They don’t whine, cry and throw temper tantrums. They find ways to make things better for everyone.
In the meantime, my friends, be careful out there. This is the silly season where motorists realize, yet again, that not only are we cyclists not going anywhere, we’re multiplying – and that seriously pisses some of them off.
One final point for the hateful motorists out there who would swerve for a chipmunk but not a father of two on a bicycle: Your hatred of cyclists is misplaced. Don’t hate us because we ride. Lobby your politicians for wide shoulders to get us off the road. It’s their failure that puts us on the same asphalt. Think about this long and hard; Do you really think we want to be on the same road surface as your ignorant ass?!
Jaysus what a w*nker. Fair play. Not many do the right thing like this.
Yes, wanker is a great word for him. 😉
Another good example of why we ride out from the edge. I never move over to allow a pass, that way if they do still decide to buzz me I have some buffer space to move into and protect myself. Sounds a bit selfish, but I’d rather be selfish than dead.
PS: Braver than I to follow him home, aren’t they all issued AK47’s at birth over there? :p
LOL! No, only the crooks have AK-47’s over here. Same as the UK, Aussie land and NZ. The law abiding citizens prefer the American AR-15 or Barret .50 cal sniper rifle. You know, because we hunt snipes in the USA.
You handled this MUCH better than I would have! I’d be willing to bet this spook will do the same thing again. What are the laws on passing bikes in your area?
We’re working on a 3′ law but our idiotic League of Michigan Bicyclists is pushing for 5′ so its run into some stiff opposition.
Otherwise our laws are solid for protecting cyclists.
Its now my turn to bow and applaud you Jim for choosing the more positive of the 2 roads that you could have gone down. The UK has a 1.5metre (4ft) rule that in my experience is not often followed by people driving…except if the opposing lane is traffic free. Then it is more convenient to pass while speeding. As we are in Lent one of my 3 pillars (prayer) is devoted to not swearing but saying a prayer, “please Lord, make him/her more considerate and less of an idiot the next time”. Now that we are into day 26, I’ve had to shorten this just to “please Lord”
Amen brother, and thank you.
You’re welcome. A comeback to the, “but the speed limit is…” excuse is that it’s a speed LIMIT, not a target
Yep, and there’s the “faster than farm equipment” angle too. Still, you just can’t fix stupid.
We’ve had 4 cyclists killed in as many weeks here within a 20 k radius. And people still ask me would I not cycle into my work in Dublin City…not on your high nelly(an Irish bike) Everyday I see motorists and bus drivers being total arseholes…dangerous arseholes actually. It’s terrifying.
I just don’t get it… Why?!
Well, I can say this; There’s a reason we ride the back roads.
Yep, stay safe😊
Y’know, I came upon a group of cyclists headed up a gnarly hill yesterday. I could have passed them, but I would have risked being on the wrong side of the road and colliding with a car coming from the opposite direction. What did I do? I put my blinkers on, stayed well behind them and didn’t give a fuck about the cars behind me. Eventually, I knew there would be a point where I could pass them safely. Easy breezy lemon squeezey. Thanks for this most excellent post! ❤👍🏼😎
I have to compliment you for staying out of the guy’s face. That just gives a guy with an attitude justification for being a numbskull.
Is the law in Michigan that a motorist must give a cyclist three feet when they pass? It is in Illinois.
Approach your mayor about appointing a commission to promote safe cycling in your town. It gives you a voice as well as some traction.
I will. Thanks for the tip, brother.
Sorry, but having had my shoulder clipped by the wing mirror of Ford Transit van in a wide straight piece of road this weekend, I’m in no mood to be nice to the driver. The good news for him that I wasn’t able to catch him because if I had then he’d had got more than swearing. As I have before, I would have ripped the wing mirrors from his vehicle. I could even have possibly thrown my bike thought his windscreen – this is not something I have yet done, but if one more motorist idiot on his phone gets within three inches of killing me (yes, he could have killed me!!), then I will smash his precious piece of automation. If he’s brave enough to get out of his cab ( and I’ve yet to meet one that is is) then I have no idea what I’ll do. We’re entitled to be safe – the law says that mobile phone are not allowed to be used – so if the Police won’t protect me then I’ll have to do it myself.
Well written and I’m glad you came out of the encounter safely. Always shocked how motorists are unable of sharing the road.
You and me both, Patrick. Thank you.
I’m beginning to think this country needs a mass protest to improve cyclist safety. Mind you, even as I type this, I can hear the disparate groups, bickering amongst themselves; some strange bods in the two-wheel community! Still, I think it may be time – certainly here in Ireland. It’s getting ugly out there…
In the US, every Autumn, we go through the same thing – it takes motorists a few months to get used to the fact that they didn’t see us on the roads because most of us don’t cycle in snow. Once early summer rolls around, things tend to calm down a little bit. What you have is a different monster altogether! Ride safely my friend.
Thanks Jim. Yes, the monster we have is Irish indifference which is harder to kill than Grendel’s mother.
You’re spot on. It’s not about being cross, it’s about making progress. I always find it weird that I get more room from cars on my 3-speed than on my road bike, it’s the same me. If anything I need the room more on the road bike as it’s less stable and more vulnerable to poor surfaces. I guess I don’t scream ‘cyclist’ in quite the same way.
Thanks… I do scream cyclist in that way – I think in the end, some people just want to be angry.