I had a couple of incidents today which made me think that I am going to change how I respond to other people when out on the bike. Nice day so out along the MUP with a lot of other people. Some strollers, some with dogs both on and off leads, some joggers, lots of families who have driven vast SUV's encrusted with cycle-racks so as to enjoy this 'green' pastime -chaos in fact- and quite a few 'roadie' type cyclists, a few of whom are trying to hammer it through the crowds. One in particular dives past me in the kind of close overtake against oncoming traffic that people like Magnatom document so vividly. Except the 'oncoming traffic' in this case is a baby in a buggy, some small children and their parents. I remember saying (almost to myself) 'That was a foolish overtake!' A little while later I encounter the same cyclist coming back the other way. He waves a meaty fist at me. Hmmm. Much later, on my way home along a main road, I encounter incident number two: Approaching a side-road on my left. A car is stationary, waiting to turn left or right (don't remember seeing any indicators). Young guy behind the wheel has a phone clamped to his head and seems somewhat distracted from the job of negotiating the junction. I eyeball him anxiously -is he going to t-bone me? I reach the point of no return, and he has not moved, but finally makes eye-contact. I mouth 'get off the phone!' at him, and pass on. Next thing I know he is overtaking me, making a 'what's your problem?' gesture. I blow him a kiss, which was probably naughty of me. This sends him ballistic. Still moving forwards he screams obscenities, jumping up and down. I laugh heartily. He moves slowly, but pulls some way ahead. I wonder if he is going to stop and have a word with me. Instead he changes lanes and leaning right out of his car, makes cucumber polishing gestures. By now I am about ten cars behind him and surrounding motorists at the junction he has reached are probably wondering what on earth he is doing. Now I have made two enemies I am going to have to keep an eye open for (my bike is very distinctive, being the only 'bent for miles). But it was the reaction of the second guy that disturbed me the most. I pushed a very small button, and he started to come apart at the seams. After the initial humour of the situation wore off, I began to reflect that in both cases, I had brought out the worst in another human being. Now this is not to condone or excuse their behaviour, but it seemed to me that my actions improved nothing, and in the latter case, turned what had seconds before been a happy go lucky if irresponsible lad into a foaming lunatic -and sent him among his fellow motorists in a red mist of rage. This did not seem to me to be a good outcome. I have therefore taken the following resolutions: 1. I will not be a policeman. 2. I will not criticise others, even if their behaviour seems wrong. People react very badly to criticism. I know this, because I do myself -perhaps most especially if I know I am in the wrong. 3. I will ride defensively, treating everyone as a potential hazard. 4. I will practice memorising number plates! My basic conclusion from the day is this: Challenging bad behaviour on the road can often create even more dangerous situations. There are scary levels of rage and aggression out there. In the middle of traffic is not the place to provoke or address them. But addressed they do need to be. I'm just not sure how.