What would you do?

by PeteH   December 21, 2011  

So I'm riding across London this evening, down Northumberland Avenue. All of a sudden I get a "beep, beep" from behind me, clearly some driver unimpressed that I'm not prepared to ride in the gutter for him. So anyway I flip him a finger, he overtakes anyway.

A hundred yards later he gets stopped at a red light, I pull up alongside him and knock on his window to ask why he was driving like a c**t. (These wouldn't have been far off my exact words.)

Next thing I know he's out of his car threatening to kill me, he even smacks me on the side of the head (fortunately I'm wearing a lid so in fact all he did was smack the helmet). Clearly I had upset him - I probably upset him even more when I said "get back in your car you macho pr*ck".

But what do you do? Bear in mind I'm straddling my bike in the middle of London, and don't particularly want to get off the bike which kinda lets out giving him a smack, or damaging his car.

Never happened to me before in several years of commuting, anyone got any bright ideas what they'd have done if it had happened to them?

19 user comments

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You stop being so "macho" and posting things like this giving a bad impression of cyclists

Ok, he wanted to get past and beeped you, car drivers do this, but just hold your line, he overtook, for me, that would have been end off in my case

Knocking on his window and calling him anything is just you aggravating this situation, him getting out makes it worse and then having words could lead to anything

What if he was carrying a weapon, knife, gun etc....

Think on what would have happened to you

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posted by Gkam84 [8685 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 0:32

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What do you do? You don't flip the finger in the first place, and you don't call him a c**t.

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

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posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 0:34

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Gkam84 wrote:
You stop being so "macho" and posting things like this giving a bad impression of cyclists

Ok, he wanted to get past and beeped you, car drivers do this, but just hold your line, he overtook, for me, that would have been end off in my case

Knocking on his window and calling him anything is just you aggravating this situation, him getting out makes it worse and then having words could lead to anything

What if he was carrying a weapon, knife, gun etc....

Think on what would have happened to you

+1

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 0:36

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I admire you guys for being able to keep your cool, obviously I was unable to. That's only the second time I can remember having any kind of altercation while riding, the other time nowhere near as serious.

Clearly I'm in a minority of one in terms of how I reacted to it. All I can say is that at the time it felt like I was standing up to the school bully.

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 1:21

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I fail to see how that was "serious" as you put it

From what you have written in your opening post

Quote:
So I'm riding across London this evening, down Northumberland Avenue. All of a sudden I get a "beep, beep" from behind me, clearly some driver unimpressed that I'm not prepared to ride in the gutter for him. So anyway I flip him a finger, he overtakes anyway.

So he beeped you, you held your line and he overtook you anyway, is that right?

Was it the manner of the overtake that got you all enraged? Or simply because he overtook you?

The serious part in my eyes is you taking it that step further by confronting the driver, Its not as if he just overtook and then stopped infront of you, he stopped for a red light, which in my eyes, you have to do by law. In some situations, maybe i might have been tempted to give him a hand gesture while he was behind you, for instance if he was right on your wheel. Then if he overtook and stopped at the lights, i may have given him a look of discontent and shock my head.

But to go and knock on the drivers window, when the driver had overtaken you (still to find out in what manner) Is again in MY EYES, the totally wrong thing to do and could have landed you in a lot of bother for doing that

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posted by Gkam84 [8685 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 1:41

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sorry, did not make it clear, to be honest I'm still very wound up by it all. Being overtaken by cars is just a fact of life, it was the manner in which he did it that made me lose my cool. When he beeped he must have been right behind me because I almost jumped out of my skin.

As far as I can recall he had a clear road so he could have just pulled out and passed, which in fact he did a few seconds later. You could argue what's the point when there is a red light not far off, but that was down to him.

So the beeping right on my tail was totally unnecessary and I interpreted it as a "shouldn't be on the road" manouvre designed to scare me. Hence my subsequent actions.

You're absolutely right in what you say about the confrontation aspects. If I were reading someone else's account of the scenario I might well say the same as you. But there in the middle of it...

Has this kind of thing never happened to anyone else? And if so, is everyone except me able to brush it off with a "look of discontent"? I always thought of myself as quite tolerant on the road (well, generally speaking, certainly I'm usually able to avoid situations such as this) but perhaps I'm becoming less so.

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 2:11

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Pete, having never ridden through London i dont know and wouldn't want to guess at how busy it gets but if your going to persist in knocking on windows then i suggest you speak to the driver politely so as to not get their backs up !.

Rightly or wrongly the driver beeped for a reason - maybe it was to let you know he was there or he may have been a complete knacker and wanted to give you a fright but i was always told two wrongs dont make a right.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2665 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 9:15

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A similar sort of thing happened to me on Euston Road a year or so ago, although without me having been "aggressive". White van driver objected to me taking the lane, and pulled up at the lights by Warren St Station, got out and told me he was going to kill me. He bashed his hand on my helmet, before a crowd turned up and he got in his van and drove off.

What I wish I'd done is nipped round to the driver's door, whipped out his keys, thrown them over the parapet into the underpass, and cycled off leaving him stranded.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 9:53

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Pete,

It's easy to take the moral high ground in the cold light of day and I've never had the dubious pleasure of cycling in London but I can understand your reaction to some degree. You feel extremely vulnerable at times in city centres in the dark and if you sense behaviour that puts you at risk the 'fight or flight' thing kicks in. Because you both had to stop for the lights, I guess it was the former.

I think you were fortunate you didn't retaliate though (whether it was to protect your bike or not). If you got his reg number report him to the police. Whether he was provoked or not he still hit you. If you didn't; write it off as experience.

Unfortunately, many drivers' default attitude to cyclists is often that we are an inconvenience at best and at worst solely there to annoy them. He's also probably pissed off as he commutes by car in London and therefore you'll probably get home before him.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [536 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 10:11

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OK the guy beeped you, but was it an aggressive blast or a warning toot?? Did he pass you giving by a hairs breadth? Problem is you giving him the finger probably caused him to pass you dangerously. You then called him a p***k and a c**** be glad that he then didn't pull over let you past and then point his little tin box at you and turn you into a bit of the road surface.

About 6 months ago I 'politely' challenged a driver about his cutting me up on a mini roundabout when I caught up at a red light. I got the usual f off, shouldn't be on the road drivel. He then sped off to lie in wait 100 yards up the road. What then happened was like a track event stand off with the driver in front. I managed to get the jump at the next light with a sprint that would make Sir Chris proud totally threw the bugger. What then happened was unreal. The guy caught up with me, slowed right down as he passed and swung in so the rear of his car caught my front wheel before speeding off. I was lucky by breaking in time otherwise I would have gotten a full broadside.

There are total shisters out there who will quite happily use their vehicle as a weapon especially when there are no witnesses about and you become a statistic of careless driving rather than a murder victim Sad A disdainful glance/shake of the head gives you the moral high ground. That and a few interval sprints will sort out the energy from the confrontational. Stay safe mate.

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posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 14:55

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I empathise with everyone's thoughts on this and accept everyone's views, however a similar thing was done to me though I gave no reaction, right or wrong I just didn't. Once past me (being deafened by the BIG exhaust)the driver of the little 206 just slammed on his brakes - it was dark(ish) but I had enough light to see him look in his mirror and it seemed to impress his chav buddy in the passenger side. Anyway, once I got into work I thought I would ring the local 'Plod' whose first words he gave me once I explained AND gave him the reg no was "were there any witnesses?" to which I replied there was a car behind me that no doubt saw what happened - "and his reg number?" came the reply.... I don't know I said - "well there's not much we can do then" I was politly told. To me they were Police before, now it's Plod.
I did feel a little 'gutted' as nowt would be done unless I was spread across his rear window.
Strange but I've not seen the car since (or before)so probably not the usual cars that pass me every day.
I just put it down to experience and just one in the thousands that have passed me on my journeys - I did S***t myself when he did what he did though. Surprise
Trikeman. Wink

Grunt, puff, pant and groan goes the old man - but he gets there in the end. ;o)

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posted by trikeman [348 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 22:47

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To be truthful I wouldn't have given him or anyone the finger.

If I was in the wrong or right, correct your riding and ignore the guy.

If a driver started to attack me and I hadn't got my helmet cam on then sure I would have defended myself.

Remember that you have cleats on your shoes -fighting in ice skates will have you losing to a granny with a horse shoe in her handbag.

The guy was already wound up for some reason and you ignited him even more.

Let it go, cycle the frustration/anger off and move on.

Helmet cam should be on your xmas list.

He had no right to hit you and you should not have ignited him even more -just ignore the prat.

You are not alone, I have been in the position when young and also still friends/family get wound up by other silly drivers that they have even chased the driver and I have had to hold back scrappy dabby doo from hitting the dozy driver and arrested.

They are not worth it. Film it next time and hand footage to Police/youtube Wink

Have a better day Pete! life is too short to waste it on impatient drivers.

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

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posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 23:28

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I agree with Fish n Chips.

Best to keep your cool and carry on regardless. You are in a clear disadvantage if there is any agro. You are on a bike, in lycra wearing cleats. I have been in a similar position where a van towing a trailer overtook me. He 'forgot' about the trailer and cut me up when a car appeared in front of him coming the other way. I ended up in a hedge. He was very apologetic.

The trouble with calling him a C**t is that you are challenging his manhood and he forgets that he is a bad driver and now had something to prove.

Also I do kickboxing and Karate and I would not like to have a fight dressed up in cycling gear. Anyone could kick my ass with me wearing cleats.

Giant Rob.
King of the East Midlands

posted by Giant Rob [60 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 1:23

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Cheers Rob. A couple of days after the event I agree with him too. And you. The thought of someone called Giant Rob, the lycra-clad King of the East Midlands, using his martial art skills to teach a lesson to some irate driver does at least let me picture a lighter side to all this Big Grin

To those of you who think this guy had a right to hit me because I mouthed off at him, have a happy christmas and I hope you never find yourselves in that kind of situation. (I'm sure you won't.)

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 11:30

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I know this has been touched on before but how certain are you that the horn was meant for you? It would still be a irresponsible thing for the motorist to use his horn so close to you but on a clear road coming up to a red light? As you point out why use the horn in the first place? I am not great in a confrontation and would probably lose my rag but would like to have asked why he used the horn....and then call him a c**t. I think although you feel a wimp at the time; ask yourself what would Gandhi do? Peaceful protest usually wins eventually. Fighting fire with fire rarely gets results other than giving cyclists a bad (worse?) name.

posted by SideBurn [764 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 13:52

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Sideburn, I can't find Gandhi's twitter stream but I am successfully following the Dalai Lama in the hope that next time the spiritual side of my brain will kick in before the cornered-animal side.

As an aside, when Gandhi visited London in 1931 he was asked by a journo what he thought about western civilisation and replied, "I think it would be a good idea". So nothing changes.

Oh, and yes, they were meant for me, absolutely no doubt in my mind. As for peaceful protest usually winning....well, the sad thing is that this guy is probably driving around London threatening cyclists as we speak. That's just life - there are protagonists and there are victims and I'm afraid if you obey the law by not going around thumping people then you are likely to fall into the latter category.

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 14:17

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I try to be cool in confrontations (no amount of martial arts training is going to cancel out a pair of Speedplay cleats - they're slippery as f***!) but I must admit, sometimes if a horn goes close behind you the adrenalin kicks in immediately. In this situation, to my shame I have shouted "What?! Chill out!" then felt a little sheepish later.

Take it easy everyone and have a great christmas. Remember, every mince pie is another interval or two! Devil

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2940 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 14:54

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Pete, that driver was bang out of order. In an ideal world he would get nicked for assaulting you. As other posters have rightly pointed out you are at a big disadvantage should any aggro occur so it is best to stay out of it. It's a stressful time of year and anyone mad enough to drive around central London is going to be even more on edge than usual. Add that to a situation in which you feel threatened by injury or death and it's really easy to let adrenalin get the better of you. You can end up looking wild eyed and aggressive without even realising it.

I feel for you, the guy who attacked you is obviously a moron and he had no right to hit you. It would be nice to think that there was some way of getting back that idiot driver but it's all in the past now. I've done tens of thousands of miles in central London and the main point as I'm sure that you know is to look out for your own safety and to ignore the abuse. In this type of situation anyone fool enough to cut you up or sound the horn right behind you is probably in no state for a rational discourse on safe driving and safe cycling. On the whole you have to let the loser in the metal box do his thing and tell him to f8ck off mentally.

Happy Cycling in 2012

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [307 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 15:17

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Cheers buddy, you too.

Pete

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posted by PeteH [159 posts]
23rd December 2011 - 16:48

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