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There's a lot being written about the rise in cycling in the U.S. and, consequently, also a lot written about the clash between cyclists and drivers. Amanda sent me this article from the New York Times about the rise of road rage aimed at bikers. One of the people quoted summed it up by saying, “We’ve had a car culture for so long and suddenly the roads become saturated with bicyclists trying to save gas,” Mr. Cooley said 10 days after the attack, still feeling scrambled, in pain and traumatized. “No one knows how to share the road.”

Even though Chicago's a pretty bike-friendly city, there are those people who are downright mean. One time I was riding down Halsted with a guy who, every time I caught up to him at a light, kept yelling at me, "Out of my way! Stay on the sidewalk!" (which is illegal). And even worse, riding in a car with a few people, one of whom joked to the driver, "Ten points if you hit a biker." I got off easy compared to some of the stories in the article, but I'm sure there are worse examples from around here.

What about you guys. Do any of you have stories of drivers behaving badly?

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Great read!
A few years ago, I had a scary incident with a cabbie in Uptown. I was on Clark near Wilson, headed for the Loop. The cabbie had pulled over to pick up a fare, and I passed him. A minute later, he zoomed up from behind me and passed me on the left, then slowed down when he was beside me, trying to force me into the parked cars. I hit the brakes and dropped behind him to avoid being squashed. He slowed down more. I stopped and waited, hoping he'd go on his way. He paused at a stop sign, then pulled out slowly. I started rolling again, slowly. He kept going slow. A car pulled out in front of him. I tried to pass on the left while there was a break in oncoming traffic. He moved over the center line, pushing me further over, and closed the gap between him and the car ahead of him. I was yelling at him to leave me alone, and he was yelling things to the effect that "bikes don't belong on the road." A light changed ahead, and there was oncoming traffic again and not enough time to pass both cars, even with a hard sprint. I hit the brakes again and dropped behind him over to the curb, where I pulled out my phone and called 911. I waited until I could see him over 2 blocks ahead before I started to roll again. As I pulled out from the curb, Randy Neufeld was coming down the street. Can't think of too many times when I've been so glad to see a friendly face.
Funny thing is I'm so used to animosity now that when a motorist is friendly I'm almost surprised. I had a friendly exchange last week with a bus driver. We were both stopped at Clark/Halsted and Barry. It's a long light (I NEVER make that light for some reason) and we both looked at each other and gave a head nod and thumbs up. When the light turned he motioned for me to go in front of him!

In October I remember having a nice exchange with motorcyclist and his lady friend at that exact same intersection. We were laughing about the extreme change in weather from one day to the next. I felt a nice bond with them and we shared a good laugh.

My worst motorist experience happened with a bus. I had pulled over to use my phone. I was in the parked car lane although there were no cars at that part of Clark near Sunnyside. As I was putting away my phone and getting my gloves on I turned around to see a bus coming straight towards me! I literally had to pick up my bike and jump on the sidewalk to avoid getting hit. I decided to try race up to him and yell at him at the stop sign. All he did wasnhonk at me. I wrote down his bus number and was going to report him for bus road rage but never did.

Anyone know who to call to complain about road rage specifically for CTA and cabs?
I like seeing Randy too. I've only run into him twice on the road even though he lives 3 houses down from me.... But I've only been commuting for a year and a half.

Anne Alt said:
A few years ago, I had a scary incident with a cabbie in Uptown. I was on Clark near Wilson, headed for the Loop. The cabbie had pulled over to pick up a fare, and I passed him. A minute later, he zoomed up from behind me and passed me on the left, then slowed down when he was beside me, trying to force me into the parked cars. I hit the brakes and dropped behind him to avoid being squashed. He slowed down more. I stopped and waited, hoping he'd go on his way. He paused at a stop sign, then pulled out slowly. I started rolling again, slowly. He kept going slow. A car pulled out in front of him. I tried to pass on the left while there was a break in oncoming traffic. He moved over the center line, pushing me further over, and closed the gap between him and the car ahead of him. I was yelling at him to leave me alone, and he was yelling things to the effect that "bikes don't belong on the road." A light changed ahead, and there was oncoming traffic again and not enough time to pass both cars, even with a hard sprint. I hit the brakes again and dropped behind him over to the curb, where I pulled out my phone and called 911. I waited until I could see him over 2 blocks ahead before I started to roll again. As I pulled out from the curb, Randy Neufeld was coming down the street. Can't think of too many times when I've been so glad to see a friendly face.
How much time do you have? Let's see, I have been in at least 10 hit and runs, the last one almost killing me, shot with paintballs by kids, have had beer bottles thrown at me on 4th of July. Fire crackers dropped on me from a 4x4 by red necks. Had some kids in a convertible hit me with a baseball bat while they were breaking mailboxes in the county. This one was almost the worst. I was hit across the shoulders. I did not fall though but was black and blue for a month. Water ballons filled with piss thrown at me on St. Pat's day last year while waiting for the stop light. Was told in Evanston by some high school kids, "Get the f*ck off the road, you dumb jew fag*t". The kids also tried to throw water ballons at me. Never got a license plate, wish I did. It never fails with so many stupid drivers that you have run ins with more and more of these backwards people. Makes you wonder how they even got a driver's license.
My scariest experience recently was a couple of months ago, when I was headed west on Chicago near Wells on a Saturday afternoon. A guy in a silver car passed me within a foot, and for some reason I felt emboldened at the next light to motion for him to roll down his window.

"You passed me really close back there," I said politely. "The law requires you to give me a three-foot space." (The last time I'll try that tactic. Keep your head down, Nat, and mind your business.)

He just started spewing profanity at me (and I can be pretty blue myself, but I didn't curse at him), calling me a bitch and telling me to get the fuck off the road. He told me I ought to be careful who I talk to, because someone might pull a gun on me. He just seemed super angry and scary, and it really frightened me a lot. I got the hell out of there and was trembling all the way home. I got his license plate, but I didn't call the cops. What he said technically wasn't assault (I don't think; I'm not a lawyer), but I felt extremely threatened. Obviously if he'd threatened to kill me or showed me a gun I would have called the police.

Most of the time my interactions with motorists are civil. I know that many people are just plain stupid when they get behind the wheel, but a lot of people make honest mistakes, too. In my driving days I had a couple of close calls--in one case almost pulling into the path of a merging motorcyclists--even though I felt like I was a pretty good driver. So in general, if no one hurts me or cuts it really close, I try to give them the benfit of the doubt. Plus, seriously, you never know what kind of unhinged maniac is going to run you over if you start yelling at him.
Natalie said:
I got his license plate, but I didn't call the cops. What he said technically wasn't assault (I don't think; I'm not a lawyer), but I felt extremely threatened. Obviously if he'd threatened to kill me or showed me a gun I would have called the police.


no, im pretty sure thats assault.
I have to reach into the archives for the worst and that would have been in 1971 riding to work due to the truck crapping out. After a car full of University of Iowa students tried to hit me with a tennis racket, then a pickup full of drunks and a baseball bat and the last was a semi running me into the ditch , it was time to park the bike and walk the 5 miles. This all took place in the summer of "71". Gave up biking until spring of "06" Traffic is much more tolerant now, of course there are the occasional jerks. ...curt
"
one of the artists I used to show with in Pilsen told me a story about him being followed by these jocks in a car, who kept pushing him and throwing water at him while he was biking down halsted

finally, he grabbed his tire pump and smashed the guys hand against the door. .

i think he had it coming.

personally, last week, a guy on his cell phone passed me to turn right ( in front of me) and short stopped me straight into his rear fender. . luckily I wasn't hurt or anything but the guy ( on his cell phone, sans head seat) started yelling at me through his window.

also, i've been tackled off my bike by drunks off and around halsted, and randolph. but those are pedestrians.
After getting a license plate, what do you when you have an incident with a motorist?
For CTA, I've used this e-mail address: ctahelp@transitchicago.com. I've gotten some effective results this way, both for bus and train issues.

Through my cab incident, I learned that the city has a cab commission that investigates complaints against cabbies. I was rattled enough that I didn't remember the cab's number accurately by the time I had pen and paper to write it down, so the guy I worked with at the cab commission was not able to match the information with a specific cab. Since then, I make a point to always have writing material with me when I ride in case I need it. I don't remember if I learned about the cab commission through 311 or CBF.

For either a cab or bus incident, having complete and accurate information is critical to getting effective follow-up. Date, time of day, exact location, cab # and company (or bus #, route, run number displayed in front window, and driver's ID #, if possible) are all good to have. If it's a cab and you don't note the company, color and markings on the cab are helpful to ensure accurate identification.

Julie Hochstadter said:
My worst motorist experience happened with a bus.... Anyone know who to call to complain about road rage specifically for CTA and cabs?
Last Winter (freezing cold out) on Archer Ave. in Bridgeport I pulled into the left hand lane going East toward a stop light at Halsted. Some red neck, and he was 100% red neck, missing teeth and all, honked and flipped me off as he rode by. Now I'm thinking to myself what is up with this a'hole? It's a red light up there? I pulled next to him and asked him what his deal was. He started his tirade about how I should be on the side of the road or on the sidewalk blah blah blah. I got incredibly mad and really wanted to go off on this meth-head but thought he has a beat up pick up and probably not a lot to lose. Knowing that he probably lived in the area I thought it'd be best to just ride away and leave it be as he may just run me over next time.

Other than that it is the darn buses that I've had the most trouble with. They're nasty.

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