The Chainlink

Last night in Uptown (Clark & Lawrence) I was lectured and then threatened by an irate driver.

Why the lecture?  He thought I should be waiting in the right turn late at a red light, even though I was not going to make a right turn.  He didn't like me standing in the line of cars waiting to go straight through the intersection.

I was polite and advised him to check the city of Chicago website for rules of the road related to bicycling (but I don't think he heard this, as he never stopped yelling).  He ended his rant with, "I just want you to remember that it's 2500 lbs against 25 lbs!"

Anyway, given that this guy may have a bad temper as well as a not-so-great understanding of the rules of the road, I would advise anyone biking in Uptown to try to steer clear (no pun intended) if they see him - who knows what else might set him off?

Description:  White, somewhat overweight, middle-aged, balding, salt&pepper full beard

Car: Black Cadillac SUV

License: IL R24 0270

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Okay, this post struck me because the exact same thing happened to me last month (around mid-June) at the light on westbound Cortland at Elston. Different car, however, and I didn't get the license number. I avoid the right turn lane at that intersection because, you know, I am in the way of the 2500-pounders who want to turn right on red. I looked back and this bald dude in a small four-door sedan, like a Honda or Toyota, is trying to get my attention. He asked me, "Are you turning left?" I shook my head no, and then he went from zero to 1000, screaming at me "YOU SHOULD BE IN THIS [he points at right lane] LANE!" I tried to explain why I was where I was, but like the Uptown ranter above, he never stopped yelling at me up until the light changed. While he never threatened me directly, his manner was all-too threatening. So, there's more than one explosive driver out there. Be careful...

Megan,

I've occasionally come across on-the-edge people like the driver who yelled at you. I've developed the habit of ruthlessly ignoring people once they start ranting.

Cars turn ordinary people into fucking maniacs.

Its not just cars, its lack of understanding. Many years ago a Morton Grove Cop gave a group of us a hard time about lining up leaving the right lane open for people to turn.  He wanted us to be althe way to the right.  Whenever this happens I will tell the driver, "OK, imagine that you want to make a right turn. I am sitting in front of you and you cannot go. I am in your way. That really makes no sense does it?  By moving over to the left I am accommodating right turning drivers. The light is read and you are not going anywhere. So, why screw with drivers who want to make a legal right turn?"  Also, when I have riders in a group I am leading all wait on the far right at a light I politely ask them to move  over. I tell them its not fair to right turning drivers. 

Telling drivers that you are in the legal right has some value. However, I think you get even more  mileage out of telling them that you are doing something that is BETTER for drivers.  Just maybe he scratches that salt and  pepper head of his and realizes he isn't the only driver on the road.

Once you have the arrogance and confidence to know that you are right the fools really don't matter.  You throw out advice and some of it sticks. Sometimes it falls to the road but at least it doesn't stay there.  Also, given the original post it may well be that the encounter has nothing to do about bikes and cars but about whatever went wrong with his day and how he wants to take it out on the road.  As long as he doesn't hit you its sometimes better to let the baby cry itself to sleep.

Actually, the police thought it was a silly situation when I told them a guy actually threatened to murder me. He literally said, "I'm going to murder you." He then told his passenger to get "it" out of the glove compartment (I actually chuckled when the dude said that). These were two suits in an Audi.

It all started when he was honking like crazy and telling me to move over..when I was in the shared bike lane on Elston (by Kohls. I wasn't turning right so there was no reason for me to be in the right turn lane). I probably shouldn't have told him to "F*#* Off." But, quite frankly if you're an as*hole, I'll treat you the same, however, I've been trying to get better and remain calm in those situations. Yelling never helps.

Apparently it doesn't count as assault if you're on a bike…

Chris LaFrombois said:

Actually, the police thought it was a silly situation when I told them a guy actually threatened to murder me. He literally said, "I'm going to murder you." He then told his passenger to get "it" out of the glove compartment (I actually chuckled when the dude said that). These were two suits in an Audi.

It all started when he was honking like crazy and telling me to move over..when I was in the shared bike lane on Elston (by Kohls. I wasn't turning right so there was no reason for me to be in the right turn lane). I probably shouldn't have told him to "F*#* Off." But, quite frankly if you're an as*hole, I'll treat you the same, however, I've been trying to get better and remain calm in those situations. Yelling never helps.

If you're filing a police report after the incident - at the station, not on the street - it's not worth as much as an on-scene report.  When everyone has left the scene, and both parties are not at the station making a report, vital information is often lost, and police tend not to take the incident as seriously, especially if there are no witnesses and it's a "you said, they said" situation.  If you can possibly get police to come to the scene, make a report there.

If there was a serious incident, it's still better to file a desk report than not have one at all, so that there is police documentation.  However, if you've got at least one witness, you're much better off. 

Evan said:

Would you say that to any crime victim? 

Anne Alt said:

If you file a police report and try to pursue this, I hope you've got witnesses who are willing to back you up.

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