UKH

Engaging with motorists after near-misses

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Had one this morning which involved me having to pull a last minute swerve whilst travelling at speed to avoid a car that had pulled out of a side road into my path (accompanied by a drawn-out "F********ck", got to get better at not swearing when something like that happens but it's quite hard!).  Further on I caught up with them and asked if they had seen me.  They were adamant they had and had kept close to the kerb in order to give me space to go round.  Well we could disagree about that but it was quickly turning into one of those exchanges where you are just being told that you are wrong.  I wanted to finish up with something like "Hey-ho, no one got hurt, hope you have a nice day" but before I could say anything got "I wish I had knocked you off now!"

Every time I have spoken to a motorist after a close encounter there seems to be just a pattern of defensive "Well it's all your fault" followed by escalation to "You bl**dy cyclists".  Let's not forget, as the young lady so charmingly reminded me this morning, that the other party has access to a lethal weapon and you may well have to share the same road-space with them further down the line.  

So, is it ever worth saying anything after incidents like this? 

2
 Hardonicus 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I once spat in someone's passenger side window during an angry altercation when this jumped up tw@t passed me within an inch of my life. Needless to say the following car chase was an exciting one and not something I wish to repeat. I bunny hopped onto the pavement like Danny McAskil at one point.

Post edited at 13:00
3
 Eric9Points 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

You will generally get a negative reaction to criticism but after reflection, people may modify their behaviour.

However, if you rub their nose in it in the hope of getting a humble apology you'll probably just get told to phuq off.

In reply to Bobling:

To be honest... probably not. I don't think anyone in this situation is about to change their mind. There's not enough time to have a proper discussion and no one likes to admit they are wrong. 

That said, the above lady's attitude makes me mad... I wish there was some way you could make people realise how ridiculous they are being!

 john arran 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

People - usually men - often get very defensive when they've just done something stupid and often go to some lengths to pretend they weren't being foolish or negligent in the first place. Our current political predicament is testament to this psychology.

13
 FactorXXX 17 Sep 2019
In reply to john arran:

> Our current political predicament is testament to this psychology.

Brexit Bingo!

 tjdodd 17 Sep 2019
In reply to john arran:

> People - usually men - often get very defensive when they've just done something stupid and often go to some lengths to pretend they weren't being foolish or negligent in the first place. Our current political predicament is testament to this psychology.


Agree.  I think humans, in general but not always, have an innate reaction when they do things wrong to immediately deny and become defensive/try to justify what they have done.  Hence best not to engage in the immediate aftermath as this will inevitably not resolve anything and will just raise the tension.  In the cold light of day I also think most people will realise that they were in the wrong and will reflect on this and hopefully learn.  Of course there are exceptions to this including certain politicians.

 fred99 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I was only saying at the weekend that if the Police were to have a couple of Officers in plain clothes cycling around town at rush hour, complete with helmet and bike cams (front and back), that they would end up booking so many drivers for "using a mobile whilst driving", "jumping red lights", "entering yellow boxes when unable to exit", "failing to indicate", "faulty lights", etc., etc. that by the time the official letters arrived on the culprits doormat a number of them would have accrued so many points that they would lose their licences for a couple of years. They would only have to do this occasionally, because the fear would be enough in future to stop people being selfish dickheads.

1
 duchessofmalfi 17 Sep 2019
In reply to fred99:

Mostly drivers (mostly men it has to be said) get extremely aggressive when criticised for their (often extremely) dangerous driving.  They get very territorial about the few metres of space in front of them and tend to ignore or overlook the extreme asymmetry in the risks they take.

They are very caught "in the moment" and seemingly unable to appreciate any longer game - even if it is only a few seconds longer (like, why are you driving like a f*cking idiot when no matter how fast or aggressively you drive you will end up in the same position in the same queue at the next junction which is clearly visible 50 metres down the road).

That said, I believe that even if you get a (predictably) angry response, people reflect later and modify their behaviour.  Obviously it's hard to do anything but speculate - I don't recall every having been in a argument with the same driver twice so it is hard to test systematically.

1
 TomGB 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I was the driver in an incident like this a couple of months ago. Long story short, I made an error that caused him to swerve and he gave me verbals. I was immediately contrite as I knew it was a total brain fart on my part and tried to shout 'sorry, my fault' out my window. Thought about it for days afterwards, I was properly mortified. 

So, just to give an example where the driver isn't always an angry gammon. If the cyclist had stopped I'd have bought him a pint. 

In reply to john arran:

> People - usually men - often get very defensive when they've just done something stupid and often go to some lengths to pretend they weren't being foolish or negligent in the first place. Our current political predicament is testament to this psychology.

Not only that, but both your and their adrenaline will be well up and so you will be in "fight" mode (having deselected "flight").

It's really best not to bother, beyond a quick bit of gesturing.  It cannot and will not ever have a good outcome.  If there's an actual accident and you have to exchange details, simply do that with no other conversation and escape ASAP.  A discussion will benefit neither of you.

Post edited at 14:01
 LastBoyScout 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

Usually not, in my experience, unless you like being sworn at, etc.

 cb294 17 Sep 2019
In reply to TomGB:

Same here. Mistakes happen, unfortunately, but should be acknowledged.

On the other hand, the guy who passed me within inches and then started shouting at me, only for me to catch him when he was stuck in a queue at the next traffic lights can now buy a new wing mirror. 

I am not normally for taking justice in your own hands, but the police blatantly refuse to protect cyclists from criminal drivers, so f*ck them.

CB

7
 Phil1919 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

Yes, I think you are probably right. A bhuddist approach is best and will usually get a better reception. Anything said in the heat of the moment is usualy regretted by both sides, often for some time.

 nniff 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I suffered a close pass from a bloke on a big scooter riding into London the other day.  When I caught up with him, inevitably, I observed that he had been a bit close.  He called me a range of 4-letter names in rotation.  I said I thought he was rather aggressive for someone who thought he was in the right. 

Off we went again, and I caught him up, again.  He carried on name calling.  I suggested that he was perhaps temperamentally unsuited to riding a motorbike.  He did not like this and invited me, I think, to participate in a scuffle on the pavement. I declined. 

Off we went again and I caught him again.  We now had a very amused posse of other cyclists as observers.  He tried a new tack - he had passed a test and was therefore deemed competent, whereas I was nothing but a rotation of 4-letter words.  I pointed out that 30 minutes at the minimum threshold of competence was not much to be proud of.  He invited me to move over onto the pavement again so that he could show me what else he was good at.  'Walking?' I thought, but the moment passed as off we went again. 

The next stop was the big blue ASL at Stockwell, with him parked squarely in the middle of it.  I asked if if his test has not included ASLs and perhaps his test was really nothing to be proud of. Lots of more 4-letter names in rotation, lots of collective laughter and possibly the best outcome short of him veering off for a non-fatal ducking in a pond.

In reply to stevevans5:

> To be honest... probably not. I don't think anyone in this situation is about to change their mind. There's not enough time to have a proper discussion and no one likes to admit they are wrong. 

> That said, the above lady's attitude makes me mad... I wish there was some way you could make people realise how ridiculous they are being!

Sure - she was essentially saying "I'd like to take the opportunity to cause you significant physical pain over some minor traffic issue".  Get a sense of proportion FFS!

In reply to nniff:

> Off we went again, and I caught him up, again.  He carried on name calling.  I suggested that he was perhaps temperamentally unsuited to riding a motorbike.  He did not like this and invited me, I think, to participate in a scuffle on the pavement. I declined. 

Well put, had me chortling : )

 doz 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

Not that I'd ever condone such extreme delinquency but in my youthful days of cycling in the big city I always found that my steel toe-capped Doc Martens made a satisfyingly loud thud when well aimed at somebody's bodywork.....

2
 brianjcooper 17 Sep 2019
In reply to doz:

Saw something similar on the way to work one morning. A motorcyclist, about to be trapped in the nearside lane due to a parked car 50 metres in front of him. Car alongside in second lane deliberately refusing to allow the motorcyclist to move out into his lane. There followed probably the best kicking of the length of a car's bodywork I'd ever seen. The car driver moved over!     

6
In reply to Bobling:

> So, is it ever worth saying anything after incidents like this? 

Nope! They are already either suitably embarrassed or else they are the type that won't give a flying f***. I make enough mistakes (misjudgments) while cycling to know shit happens. My philosophy is smile, wave, move on.  

 gethin_allen 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I had a bloke in a large sign-written van pull out on me forcing us to both stop. His response was "you f#ing arsehole". I googled the company name when I got to work and found out that he was a sole trader and only been in business for 2 months. Shouting obscenities out of your van window doesn't sound like the best advertisement for a new company. I wouldn't trust him to do anything in my house.

 Timmd 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I've been wondering about changing my approach, less along the lines of having a go at them, and more along the lines of explaining that I don't want them to be involved in a bad situation, so that they don't end up getting into trouble or having unfortunate consequences happen as a result of a mistake on their part.

It's hard to be agreeable and 'on their side' after nearly being knocked off, though... 

1
 Andy Hardy 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

5 minutes on YouTube looking at helmet cam and dash cam footage that protagonists upload would seem to indicate that there is absolutely no point in confronting the driver, it never ends with a handshake, an apology and a promise to be more careful.

 LastBoyScout 17 Sep 2019
In reply to nniff:

> I suffered a close pass from a bloke on a big scooter riding into London the other day.  When I caught up with him, inevitably, I observed that he had been a bit close.  He called me a range of 4-letter names in rotation.  I said I thought he was rather aggressive for someone who thought he was in the right. 

Next time, go up the outside of him and hit the kill switch as the lights change...

 mountainbagger 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

No, probably best to let it go. I can't and didn't and ended up endangering my own life and that of other people as the idiot tried to run me off the road after I'd politely pointed out his poor choice of driving maneovure through his window. He then drove entirely over a pavement in an effort to avoid me catching up with him again at a road junction (where I intended on politely remonstrating with him again).

In hindsight I should've just ignored the first incident, it was only ever going to go one way.

 Timmd 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> 5 minutes on YouTube looking at helmet cam and dash cam footage that protagonists upload would seem to indicate that there is absolutely no point in confronting the driver, it never ends with a handshake, an apology and a promise to be more careful.

A friend of somebody  I used to know, who is female as it happens, is pretty good at diplomatically pointing out how somebody has just been dangerous in a tactful way. I'm thinking there might be something along the lines of 'stags clashing horns' happening when one man finds fault in another in a somewhat confrontational way.

Post edited at 21:25
 Yanis Nayu 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

I’ve had a couple of incidents where I’ve caught people who’ve just nearly killed me which have ended with them apologising and me accepting it gracefully. I’ve also nearly had fights and slanging  matches though...

 freeflyer 17 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

In the narrow dark lanes round my way, a passer-by wound down his window and said, "turn yer lights on". I uttered the usual rotating 4 letter reactions as I drove on ... and have done just that ever since.

Escalation is important. A male BMW driver age 40, very clean car, blocked the exit to the petrol station in order to tell an elderly lady to avoid parking next to the newspaper stand before picking up her paper. She had something to say about the matter, as did he. I decided the Italian horn solution was not the right way to go. Snowflake.

Final story. Got lost in Glasgow a while back, and while sorting it out, ran a red light, much to the distress of the lady crossing the road. "GREEEEN MAAANNNN" is now a standard response to anyone doing the same to me.

1
In reply to freeflyer:

> Final story. Got lost in Glasgow a while back, and while sorting it out, ran a red light, much to the distress of the lady crossing the road. "GREEEEN MAAANNNN" is now a standard response to anyone doing the same to me.

Whilst driving to Wintour's one day I came across oncoming traffic at a pinch point and drove through.  The lady waiting on the other side came out with (read it in a Welsh accent to get the full effect) "MYYY RIGHT OF WAAAAAY D*CKHEAD!". 

Still makes me chortle and now part of my standard driving repertoire.

In reply to Bobling:

I’ve been on both sides of this, to be honest. I’ve had close calls with cars while on my bike where I swore my guts out, but I’ve also had a cyclist ride straight into the back of my car as I slowed down to turn into a car park and then had him insist it was my fault, even though I had been indicating left for a good 50m and gradually slowing down, and even though there is a roundabout there, so I would have had to potentially stop either way. He was having none of it and then rode off.

Another thing that happens depressingly often is being bullied by other drivers (horn, lights, driving within an inch of my rear bumper etc) when slowing down to the pace of a cyclist or other vulnerable road used because it is not safe to overtake. I ignore them, naturally, but I could see someone less experienced with such bellends getting scared and doing something stupid that endangers their lives or the life of the cyclist.

Post edited at 08:34
 Andy Hardy 18 Sep 2019
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

Those ones never get uploaded on YouTube

In reply to Bobling:

In general both when driving and cycling I would say from experience by far the best thing to do if someone cut's you up, nearly hits you, gives you abuse etc is to just do nothing and try not to get riled by it, however sometimes you have an automatic reaction which is only human.

I also think if you make a silly mistake own up to it and apologise although this may not calm down your assailant.

 john arran 18 Sep 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Not only that, but both your and their adrenaline will be well up and so you will be in "fight" mode (having deselected "flight").

Somewhat tangentially, it occurred to me some time ago that the whole "fight or flight" dichotomy is a fallacy, as by far the most common response in reality will be to freeze.

'Fight, flight or freeze' makes a lot more sense. And it's still alliterative - bonus!

In reply to john arran:

> Somewhat tangentially, it occurred to me some time ago that the whole "fight or flight" dichotomy is a fallacy, as by far the most common response in reality will be to freeze.

> 'Fight, flight or freeze' makes a lot more sense. And it's still alliterative - bonus!

Yeah, just no idea where in the evolutionary continuum 'Freeze' got kept in as a useful response, unless it was 'Freeze, perhaps the Gigantisaur will forget we were here'*

* Yes I know humans and dinosaurs never co-existed. 

 john arran 18 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

> Yeah, just no idea where in the evolutionary continuum 'Freeze' got kept in as a useful response, unless it was 'Freeze, perhaps the Gigantisaur will forget we were here'*

> * Yes I know humans and dinosaurs never co-existed. 

Yes but it could have been a very useful response when confronted with a Djathinkysaurus.

In reply to john arran:

Freeze is a common one, though not everyone does it.  Some do seem to tend more towards it than others, though.

 jpicksley 19 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

I'm with the "do nothing" brigade. It's just not worth the emotional and (potentially) physical cost. You "might" get the 1 in a 100,000 driver (my made up statistic) who is reasonable, has a chat about it, sees it from your point of view, shakes your hand and sees it as a learning experience. What you'll actually get is one of the 99,999 out of 100,000 who think that life owes them something, that they have a right to do what they want regardless of the consequences, can't possibly be at fault, think that having a car is a human right and an extension of their home, hates all other road users including cyclists, don't realise that they are traffic not stuck in traffic (I love that one) and is late for work as they've just dropped their idiot child off at school (which is 300 metres from their house but god forbid they have to actually walk).

Take a deep breath, smile pleasantly and feel superior. It's much better for you.

1
In reply to Bobling:

I generally suck it up and move on.

What have you got to lose? A mouthful of abuse? Getting in a bad mood for the rest of the day? Getting assaulted? Them speeding off and causing an accident elsewhere? Or developing a dangerous grudge against cyclists.

What have you got to gain? A 5% chance of an apology? A similarly low chance they will change their behavior.        

I do wonder what sort of less confrontational approaches might work.  For example, showing vulnerability, telling them you were really scared, and allowing them to come to their own conclusions about their driving.

In reply to Dan Arkle:

> I do wonder what sort of less confrontational approaches might work.  For example, showing vulnerability, telling them you were really scared, and allowing them to come to their own conclusions about their driving.

Good post thank you, it's just a question of clamping down on your adrenaline and the natural fight response.    

 neuromancer 20 Sep 2019
In reply to Bobling:

Despite normally losing my temper and attemting to catch vehicles at the lights to relieve them of their wing-mirrors, if I can control myself at this point I usually try the following (or very closely):

"Why are you trying to kill me? Will you explain it to my wife and family?"

The point is - like all good leading reporters' questions - that people when angry struggle to answer this instantly. They have to first think: why was it that I didn't do something that threatened the other person. It clearly establishes you as the vulnerable person, and them as the aggressor. 

It's hard to say "f*ck of you khvnt" to someone asking why you tried to kill them. Not impossible, and for other situations you should have your bombers to hand.

 Henry Iddon 30 Sep 2019
In reply to fred99:

This happens in West Midlands. I did the photography for a feature that Cycling Plus did about it.  PC Mark Hudson is the officer who has done a huge amount to push these things forward. They now put officers on busses as it's easier to spot car divers on the telephone from that vantage point as well. 

https://trafficwmp.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/introducing-the-road-harm-reduction-team-wmprhrt/

Twitter: @WMPTIU

 fred99 30 Sep 2019
In reply to Henry Iddon:

I like it - hopefully they'll pass on this system to other forces - can only make the roads safer.

 Henry Iddon 30 Sep 2019
In reply to fred99:

For sure. I know PC Hudson has also presented at international conferences and done knowledge shares with forces in other countries. 


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