Is Road Rage Getting Worse?

Road Rage - Image copyright tompriest.comA cycling friend passed along links to two of Bob Mionske’s articles discussing the phenomenon of road rage against bicyclists, and suggested that I post them on Kansas Cyclist.

He’s right — it’s a topic worth discussing.

Here are the articles he suggested:

  • What is Road Rage? – Bob Mionske explains road rage from a legal perspective – what it is, legally as well as psychologically, and how it affects cyclists.
  • How Should You Respond to Road Rage? – So what should you do when confronted with a raging driver? The first rule is: don’t engage with rage.

Follow the links; they’re worth reading.

One paragraph, from the second article, that I really like:

Be an Ambassador for Cycling: Just because there’s some road rager out there who wants to mix it up with cyclists doesn’t mean that we have to dance to his tune. The most powerful things we can do to effect positive change in the road environment are proactive, not reactive. You have the power to bring a positive influence to your road environment, just as you have the power to bring a negative influence to your road environment.

(Bob Mionske, for those who don’t know, is a nationally-known cycling lawyer and advocate for the rights of cyclists. A former U.S. Olympic and pro cyclist, Bob amassed a record of over 100 wins during his racing career, then earned a law degree and set up the first bicycle law practice in the nation. Bob was a longtime columnist for VeloNews, and now writes the Road Rights column for Bicycling Magazine. You can learn more at his web site, BicycleLaw.com.)

My friend also sent along a personal note: “I have encountered more rage this year than in my previous 29 years of cycling.

That set me back a bit. I know my friend is an experienced and careful cyclist. I haven’t seen him do much to draw the ire of motorists (OK, he’s ridden up along the right side of stopped cars at a traffic light a few times, but I’m trying to break him of that habit.)

Personally, I haven’t seen much road rage myself.

I can only think of one incident this year, when a pickup passed me, blaring his horn, after waiting a few seconds for oncoming traffic to clear. He passed safely, at a reasonable distance, but there was no mistaking the message: “Get the f*** off the road!

I just smiled and waved (while saying some none-to-complementary things under my breath) and then he was gone and that was the end of it.

Most incidents I experience I chalk up more to stupidity or distracted driving than road rage. The oblivious drivers are the ones that concern me the most.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent about 2/3 of my miles on gravel this year, and even most of my road rides are in rural areas, but most drivers I see are considerate and careful and responsible.

There are always a few jerks/fools/idiots, though, and those are the ones that stand out in our memories…

Have you experienced road rage this year? Do you see road rage getting worse? If so, why?

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

6 Responses to “Is Road Rage Getting Worse?”

  1. Rob says:

    Wear a Road ID, I do. http://www.roadid.com

  2. Grasslands girl says:

    Maybe it’s because I mostly ride in the city, but I do experience it on a fairly regular basis. I’m a very cautious, legal rider, too. The acts range the gamut from people shouting stupid things to drivers actually doing stupid things. I haven’t noticed an increase in road rage this year, although I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists on the streets. Wonder if our higher numbers on the road might be contributing to this? That won’t stop me from riding, because I lurve it!

  3. Ray Craighead says:

    I ride primarily on city roads and get yelled at regularly. Occasionally a driver will peel out as they pass me, but I have never had anyone come after me. I make every effort to ignore this kind of behavior. The ones I find most humorous are those who yell from the other side of the rode or across the median. A small minority of drivers make it their mission to rid the road of bikers. But I must say, the vast majority of drivers are very cautious and respectful regarding bicyclists.

  4. Kerry Bitikofer says:

    I commute daily from the west side of wichita to the east side. My experience is about the same as the above two, but I will say that the more regularly i ride the same route at the same times, the frequency decreases. I think drivers get used to seeing me on my yellow trek with the child seat, and “put up” with it. My honest prayer is that gasoline hits $10 a gallon, and then they’ll close one lane of Central to bicycles only!

  5. Paul Graff says:

    I really think we’re at a total impasse between cyclists and motorists. Can’t we start to do something about it. I think it’s going to have to start with us, even though not our fault per se. Do us a favor, check out http://www.politeandright.org. Thanks.

  6. Aaron says:

    I fight this also. What drives me nuts is seeing other cyclist acting like fools. I saw a recumbent riding north on Rock Road, just past 13th street in 4:00 traffic. No helmet, no flag, and hugging the curb, which allows cars to squeeze by and pass within 2 feet. His idiotic behavior results in drivers thinking they can squeeze me off the road also.