Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"This is why we hate bicyclists."

My morning was not so great.  I like to put a good spin on stuff but if I am honest with myself my morning was exceptionally bad.  It left me feeling anxious and vulnerable and afraid and ultimately angry. 

What happened?  I got harassed by an angry old white man driving an old model very shiny robin's egg blue Mercedes Benz.  It was scary and I was not bold or aggressive and I definitely did not pull out a gun and shoot him.  I don't have a gun. 

The Contraption Captain and I were bicycling on a wide and quiet residential road.  We were not exactly side by side but my front wheel was even with his rear wheel because we were talking to each other.  There were few other cars, there wasn't much of anything going on. 

A car came up and the driver was clearly angry.  He honked and called out something along the lines of "YOU SHIT" and then he drove slowly gesturing like a lunatic from inside his car. 

I had recently seen this graphic.  So I waved a little.

Now his rage knew no bounds.  He screamed a long stream of not very inventive obscenities.  He shouted about bicyclists riding side by side and that this was against the law.  He continued on and so did we, our ride spoiled.  He was up ahead and pulled over, shouting more invective including "THIS IS WHY WE HATE YOU."  I'll come back to that later.

He drove on and invited us to get out of our cars to talk to him.  He had pulled over again.  Contraption said politely "We need to get to work" and he screamed "FUUCK!" at us and we pedaled on.  At this point we usually part ways and I head to my own office but on this occasion I rode right into Contraption's parking lot, and then through the gate and then to his office building.  Contraption closed the gate behind.  We locked up the bicycles.  We went in and had a nice breakfast and we talked. 

We don't get it.  We were not running red lights.  We were not delaying traffic.  We were not "taking a lane."  We were riding close together.  This is worth harassing and threatening a couple of middle-aged engineers on their way to work?  Really?

What I thought about was his screaming "This is why we hate you."  Ok.  You, a driver, hate us, the bicyclists, because sometimes we ride close together.  How about we talk about why I fucking hate you.

  • I hate you because you do fucked up shit like scream and shout and threaten two people who haven't done anything more exciting then ride close enough to each other to have a covnersation.
  • I hate your kind because your inability to see beyond your windshield (aka the "I didn't see them" defense) results in countless pedestrian and bicycle deaths every year.  
  • I hate you for running over children and animals.
  • I hate you for parking lots.
  • I hate you for the wretched stink you exude.  

I promise you this.  Your rage is right up at the surface, able to boil over at the mere sight of two happy people talking and laughing as they bicycle to work on a quiet residential street.

My rage is safely stowed.  But it is very real.  I am not exaggerating when I say to you that if you harm so much as a hair of my Contraption Captain's head I will find you and I will pin you to the ground with my bicycle and tear your testicles off and toss them in your gas tank.  So take that you miserable asshole.

ps.  Also, I called the police and reported you.  You are welcome.
pps.  your generation are dying.  hope your turn comes soon.  we won't miss you. 


  1. they hate you because...

    ... two people in love riding bicycles together is a complete refutation of their decisions and they know they're on the wrong side.

    I recently read an excellent post here explaining that people get mad at - bicyclists, Gypsies, the Other - for the same reasons: insecurity and the need to establish self by diminishing others.

    Good move on calling the Police. Cheers, V.

    1. Thanks for the excellent post, Vannevar. I read it to the Contraption Captain. "Pompous plastic bicycle helmets? Really?" I think of our helmets as being kindof sad and pathetic and hopeful, myself.

      Apparently a law was just passed in Berkeley, CA making it a crime to harass bicyclists.

      I still find myself scanning the streets for his damn car :/

  2. Wow, Scary.

    I have an innate tendency to escalate, which the Scientist tries to counsel me out of.
    There are some really loony tunes out there, and I'm glad that you weren't along in facing him, and that you got out of it safely.
    It's easy for people in cars to be bullies. There are so few consequences for them. I think they have no idea the effect it has on us, and what we do with the rage we sublimate.
    Ultimately his having to live in his sorry life is the worst punishment we could impose on him, but that doesn't feel like enough when your adrenaline is pumping and someone is yelling and threatening you.

    Glad you could decompress a bit with CC- I think something like that would ruin my whole day.

    1. I also escalate and am glad to hear I am not alone in this. The Scientist and the Contraption Captain see eye to eye on this matter. I try and keep in mind. The picture shows the crying guy but I saw the pictures of what that bastard did to those bicyclists.

      It did in fact ruin my whole day :/

      Bicycle sympathy does cheer me up a little.

  3. Chafe,

    I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I had something similar recently (in London) where someone deliberately rode scarily close to me up a street in his rage at my "taking the lane" on a street that was too narrow for overtaking. I was easily as shaken up as you. And the police were no good.

    I'm touched to see that someone up above has already posted a link to my post ( on the Invisible Visible Man ( about why some people hate cyclists. But you might also be interested in my most recent post (, which talks about what the behaviour on our roads says about our various societies.
    But, if I might make one positive remark, I did get one comment on my piece about why some people hate cyclists from a motorist saying how he tried to be nice to cyclists as far as he could. So we should try to remember that the bad motorists are only some motorists and that motorists are no more a homogenous group than we cyclists are.
    Having said that positive thing, meanwhile, I dearly hope the police get your guy and give him at least a good fright.

    1. I enjoyed your post tremendously. Fsvo "enjoy."

      The piano wire story and the electric car incident shocked me. I thought that Americans had cornered the market on that kind of behavior. I look forward to seeing what else you have to say.

      I read a study recently (but can't find the source) which noted that road-rage-people are much more likely than the general population to beat their wives.

    2. Chafe (we're surely on first-name terms by now),

      Thank you so much for your kind appreciation of my humble efforts (actually, I'm quite big-headed, but that's another story).

      The experience you recounted in this blog put me in mind of something that happened to me in Decemmber, which I've now expanded (as we bloggers tend to do) into an overlong blog. It's here - . I hope you enjoy it.

      If you see the guy who noised you up, incidentally, don't try to take a picture of him. I made that mistake on Friday. It didn't work out well - and I had to spend a fair bit of Saturday down at the police station giving them a statement.

      All the best,


    3. Hi there Invisible, we are assuredly on a first name basis. Am catching up and reading through your post now. It's good but in a depressing way if you catch me. My co-worker was suggesting a camera for my helmet but they are expensive. Is their a post regarding your police experience? Police here are not very sympathetic to bicyclists.