Ride it like you stole something.
Road Rage / Do as I say, not as I do..
What I've learned from my time on the road is that ABOLSUTELY NOTHING is gained from arguing with a driver if you:
- Use 'hand signals'
- Use foul language
It will only fuel the fire between rider/driver, and that fire will continue to burn for future confrontations that driver has with another rider. No one wins.
You will never convince a driver their actions were wrong unless you do it politely, and with a smile. Even that doesn't always work. Just like a bike crash at the track, it is always the 'other persons' fault if you ask anyone. Just ask me.
So when I had my morning commute rudely intereferred with, this is what I did.
I'm rolling along a Melburn inner-suburban street (Brunswick) in the bike lane on my way to work. My friend is following closely behind. Suddenly we hear horns.
'HONK! HONK! HONK!'
I check my shoulder and a white BMW 525 with numbers plate the same is mouthing off, sounding off simultaneously. His ingenius cry of 'get off the road' is used over and over and my lack acknowlegdment has the car overtake, then suddenly pull over across our path and stop.
The driver launchers out of the car, and continues his rant to my face - except his comes up to my shoulder height.
'Get back in your car' I say, and my friend starts screaming at him 'You're such a tough guy, trying to run a girl off the road'.
While she has his attention, I pull the keys out of his ignition as the car was still running. He rips around to me, grabs me by the throat and threatens to do something - and he realises he may have bitten off more than he can chew. A lady walking past says to the driver 'If you hit him I'm a witness!'.
It was all getting out of hand. I threw his keys back in the car, told him to calm down and leave.
We all carried on our seperate ways, my friend took a left and I continued straight to the city. Turns out my new best friend was also going straight.
He was matching my speed, swerving into my path (the bike lane) threatening to run me over. Unfazed, I kept the banter going telling him what a 'clever' guy he was. He kept swerving, and I kept swerving back.
He tired off this 'game' and sped off into the distance, only to be stopped at the front of the intersection, in the right lane, by a red light.
I rode over to his window and told him how intelligent it was to use his vehicle as a weapon against someone on a bike. He kept retorting how he was going to kill me, so I defused the situation completely.
I grabbed the keys out of the ignition - and he latched on to my arm as I pulled my hand out of the car. I tugged at it and he bit my arm.
I ripped my hand away, took 3 pedal strokes and was riding away from my new friend, waving his keys at him as I rode through the now green signal.
It was 8.58am.
I should take a step back here and mention at the time I was the new courier in Melburn. I rode a bike that was unlike everyone else's. It was black, had one gear, and ET fastened to the stem.
So news travelled VERY fast that a courier had taken the keys from a car, and now the driver was a seething monster, left stranded in his vehicle, and now attacking any courier in the city on foot, demanding they tell him where to find me.
My new friend called up all the courier companies, including my own and my dispatcher played dumb, though he did have a sneakin' suspicion it was me.
During the early hours of the morning I was getting 'looks' and 'nods' from all the other couriers, ones I didn't even know and I knew the heat was on.
Just after 11am, I rode back past the major intersection from a block away and a police car was diverting traffic around the frozen BMW-525.
One courier I did know bailed me up saying the guy had gone postal, and not only did I have the keys to his car, but the keys to every one of his convenient stores in the city.
This was too good to be true.
I had my regular lunch at Sam and Sons and was telling Sam about this courier who took the keys out of a car, and now the car was stuck. The punch line was 'and here's the keys!'.
After lunch I started to get REALLY nervous. I now knew where this guy worked and it was opposite a major client of ours at 200 Queen. It would only be a matter of time before we bumped into each other and in his current mood, it would not be pretty.
So I did the wise thing, and went to the police. I tld the constable on duty I had an altercation with a motorist on my way to work, and to difuse the threat of him injuring me I took his keys.
'YOU'RE THE COURIER!'
That was the constable's response.
'Yes. I am a courier'.
It was 6 months later, that ironically we saw each other again at EXACLTY the same intersection. I was coming from the opposite direction, and he was again stopped in the same spot. His look could have killed just as easily as his car ploughing into me.
More time passed. I sat at 200 Queen, eating my lunch when my old friend saw me and walked straight towards me - with an extended hand. He apologised profusely. He was just having a bad day, and was taking out his aggression on me. I apologised for taking it a little too far, and agreed that it would have really made a mess of his day - but not as much as if he'd permenantly injured me. I suggested next time, he take a deep breath, and relax.
That is all I can suggest for everyone out there on the road.
Bite your tongue, ride/drive and relax. You'll find it's the best method for dealing with life on the road.