It’s not surprising for cyclists to have endless stories to tell about drivers verbally or physically abusive or aggressive toward them.
I have had my fair share of vulgarities hurled and middle fingers pointed at me too.
For cyclists, drivers with road rage aren’t good news as they don’t have the car’s steel and glass cage to protect them. So how should you handle them?
1. Consider defusing the road rage situation
Always follow the law. Motorists always want cyclists to do something wrong so that they can grumble about it.
It may be difficult for you to resist flipping the bird or yelling at a driver, who cut you off or did something dangerous or aggressive with his car. But, doing it will only make you the instigator legally and will intensify the already-volatile situation.
Whether a driver is chilled or pissed, it doesn’t really matter because you will be at a disadvantage in so many ways. If you’re verbally confronted on the road and even if the accusation is wrong, it’s best not to argue and take the high road instead. Being gracious is key.
2. Disengage from the road rager
The best approach to handle drivers with road rage is simply to get out. Get to a place of safety. If the person is exiting the vehicle (to confront you), ride away. There’s never a circumstance where it benefits you to stay present.
It is difficult when your adrenaline is flowing to remain calm, but you have to always remind yourself that safety comes first. I give myself 5 seconds to be angry, take a deep breath and continue with my ride.
Try to note things like the vehicle plate number, physical characteristics of the driver, and time of day and where the altercation occurred.
3. Being defensive is fine, only if you do it from the drivers with road rage
If you find that the driver is being aggressive towards you physically, and you can’t locate a safe place, do everything you can to defend yourself. You can dial 999 and leave the call live even if you can’t ask for help from the dispatcher.
Place your bike between the motorist and yourself, and don’t attack the person or their vehicle even if you feel threatened. Otherwise, this can make you the aggressor according to the law.