|Looking at the Bedford Road/183 Junction from the South - My View in the Afternoon.|
In the Morning, I'm Headed South Towards the Camera.
And There is Construction so the Freeway Can be Widened for MORE Motorists
Last week, I encountered a situation I have never encountered before in 50 years of cycling. It is not something I have seen useful advice on from advocates, and I found that even Forester, who DID talk about the situation in his chapter on commuting, fell short of the mark. Perhaps there IS no single right answer.
What did Steve encounter? You might wonder. Well, I encountered harassment in the form of verbal abuse. Twice. In the same week. From the same motorist. On a route I have used over the last four years, on a road I've ridden just about every work day over the last year.
FORESTER OFFERS SLIM COMFORT
Forester, in "Effective Cycling," advises:
"...give chase to the next traffic stop. Ride up beside the driver's window and say that you have exactly as much right to use the road as he or she has..."
Forester does not advise on what to do if the motorist drives up beside YOU, yells inappropriate remarks, and then promptly drives off so he can enter a freeway on-ramp. Still, his advice is the best I've seen, and he offers some slim comfort, saying:
"...The person who will kill you in front of witnesses is rare..."
Well, so is someone who harasses twice in the same week. So forgive me if I don't do cartwheels of joy.
Forester omits one detail. Unfortunately, abusive motorists tend to behave like ambush predators. They strike quickly and then move away before the "prey" can effectively respond. In neither case was I able to get a license number, nor respond with more than a sentence before the perpetrator sped off. Really, in many ways, it was reminiscent of my three encounters with my "OU Friend" in his red pickup. During the predator's strike, you do not typically have the opportunity to follow Forester's advice. It simply isn't a "teachable moment."
In the first incident, on Tuesday morning, I was honked at about two blocks north of the 183 Freeway while on Bedford Road; a four lane road with a 35MPH speed limit. I waved nicely and the motorist passed. I caught up to the motorist at the red traffic light as he was waiting to turn right onto the freeway service road and the onramp. It was not my intent to converse with him, but he felt it necessary to roll his window down and yell "get off the (inappropriate word)ing road!" Surprised, my training kept me from inappropriate remarks or gestures of my own and I replied "You too, Bud!" Perhaps not inspiring, but at least not too horrid.
|It Was Around Here the Driver of the Teal Ford Escort Honked. The Sign is Gone Nowadays|
In the second incident, on Friday morning, I was stopped at the very same traffic light as the first incident. Well, after I'd been waiting for the light change more than 20 seconds and a couple of cars had stopped behind me, up rolls the very same guy in his teal Ford Escort station wagon and yells again. I don't recall all the details for an exact quote, but it was basically "...holding up cars you moron!" I yelled back that "There's a freeway over there for you!" For the record, after the light turned green, there was no apparent conflict between me and the motorists who were actually stopped behind me, and they all passed with no fuss or muss.
Now, looking through a wide variety of advocate sites, I see no useful advice. Clearly a three foot passing law, bike lanes or lack of same, or lane position are not relevant to the proper action to stopping the harassment and avoiding escalation of it by this motorist. Even less relevant is the usual pap telling motorists that cyclists have a right to the road and cyclists that they are supposed to obey the law. Well, duh! You think the harasser is going to be reading and heeding such?
LEFT TO MY OWN DEVICES
Absent a brilliant suggestion from my loyal reader, here's my plan. I plan to take my usual route and time. If the teal driver repeats the pattern (hopefully without further escalation), I will single-mindedly focus on trying to get that license number. Then I will recall exactly what time I left home. If I get the license, I will report the harassment to the Bedford Police, but if not, I'll leave about five minutes early in subsequent days and wait at the corner with my camera at the ready.
In the meantime, Bedford Police Department Numbers that might be relevant in this situation follow, and my loyal reader might well have opinions on which of them I should call, presuming I can get the particulars on this motoring bully in the teal Escort (NOT a white pickup!):
- Emergency: 911
- Main Non-Emergency: 817.952.2440
- Non-Emergency Dispatch: 817.952.2127
- Administration: 817.952.2402
- Criminal Investigations: 817.952.2411
- Community Services: 817.952.2444
- Traffic: 817.952.2488