Bad effects of confrontation?

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.


slower but further
SE London
I too have lately come to the same conclusion. Reward good behaviour (a wave & smile), ignore bad. Except it is easier to write that then do it. I failed, again, only this morning.

Not only is righteous indignation likely to even more infuriate the sinner - but I believe it is just as likely to lead to loss of concentration in oneself. Actually I try to review the incident. Just because the other person was in the wrong doesn't mean the incident could not have been mitigated by a bit more anticipation and defensive riding on my part. You can't control others but you can (well sometimes) control yourself.

So give yourself a smile and a wave when you DON'T retaliate ...


Quite dreadful
lost somewhere
It is a very hard call. If you get angry, there will probably be another motorist out there thinking that cyclists are all maniacs, and they may treat us less kindly. On the other hand, I do feel the need to educate when the initial red mist has settled down. It is a difficult issue. Unswerving politeness might help when it comes to a friendly word in the motorist's ear, even when he/she may have been utterly reckless.

I sometimes do not practice what I preach.

My two pennies, and good luck.


Über Member
Bad effect of confrontation is loosing your own concentration. A moped overtook very closely and when I caught up with him we had verbal exchange. A couple of hundred yards away I was left hooked by a car. Although he wasn't signalling to turn if I was concentrating I could have avoided it I think. Luckily I stayed upright and he lost his wing mirror.:biggrin:
There is a big problem in this country with attitude and respect.

I walked across Waterloo concourse with two bikes yesterday and did anybody think of stopping for me and letting me pass...did they feck.I had this all the way to Liverpool Street with the two bikes.Just totally ignored.

Personally I don't care and I will just do the same now but I notice when people want something they are prepared to talk to you.

The bad driving is just a couldn't care less attitude.

I had this with a van driver going towards Westminster Bridge during the weekly commute....close overtake and when I looked at him he was fuming at something...obviously he wanted afters.Ar5e.


Rider of Seolferwulf
South London
Yes, I agree. It's much much better to praise than to criticise, and unfortunately my videos don't show just how much I do this. I reckon that I give many tens of thank yous, thumbs ups, and even salutes on an average commute.

On the other hand I won't hesitate to tell someone if they've risked my life in some way. Mostly I can do it reasonably positively and without criticising them, but not always. I only consider it a win if I can tell them nicely and in a way that makes them learn from it.

It's only a half win when the situation is like that Robinson's removals lorry, and the employee driver gets to learn better behaviour from his transport manager.


Waiting for the great leap forward
The middle bit
GUILT PROJECTION -- disavowing personal responsibility by casting the blame onto someone or something else. Those who hold others responsible for their own mistakes and failures may have the "everyone owes me" mentality, ie: "I'm never responsible for anything wrong in my life. It's always someone else's fault."

That's the problem in ths country; our controlling government has had the same effect as an over-bearing parent. We have become a nation of spoilt brats with no sense of responsibility.




Guilt projection -agree -seems like an entirely plausible psychological mechanism.

Controlling government 'infantilising' the population? Hmm. Do I detect a neo-conservative political agenda there? Trouble is, my second guy could easily spend the next 20 years using a mobile while driving without any effective 'control' being enforced by anybody.

Personally I blame the alienation of people from real life and real community caused by the structure of a society based on a capitalist economy, but then I'm a raving loony leftist intellectual. I do ride a 'bent after all!

More seriously: I do wonder if he had 'learned' some of that behaviour from watching police videos of motoring miscreants on some cheap TV channel.

I have become uncomfortably aware that I myself was 'rehearsing' some of my responses as a result of reading incident threads on forums like this. I was getting off on the sense of vicarious outrage to an unhealthy degree! Lo, when I started to interact, it played out according to the stories I had read -scary. I don't want to go any further down that road.


upsidedown said:
That's the problem in ths country; our controlling government has had the same effect as an over-bearing parent. We have become a nation of spoilt brats with no sense of responsibility.
+1 and I doubt that it is any neo-con agenda, I get just as annoyed when I see individual parents being what I consider to be over-protective too.

BentMikey said:
Yes, I agree. It's much much better to praise than to criticise, and unfortunately my videos don't show just how much I do this. I reckon that I give many tens of thank yous, thumbs ups, and even salutes on an average commute.
+1 to this too. A few years ago, I had some motorbike training with the coppers very close to where you are, BM, and one of them said that they always wave to the cars that don't pull out, to say "thanks for not killing me". I think that's important enough that people should be thanked for not doing it.

On Thursday, I had a van reversing off the pavement who stopped when he saw me, so I did my usual wave of thanks. He had no idea why I waved, though, I could see that not only from his quizzical expression as I went behind him but from the owl-impression he did to look at me through the driver's side window. ;)
LAst time was a close overtake at a pedestrian island..driver stopped and started getting verbal.

Stopped beside him,blocking his door and then got my phone out and stated that if he was that concerned he would want to involve the Police, and I was quite happy to do so.

He was a little reluctant, and even more so when I pointed out that I had the overtake, his threats and language on video.

He then backed down, and drove off.

Reported him anyway and the Police "had a word"
I alwayr wave when a motorist does a good thing which is weird because I never used to years ago as it wasn't needed.I noticed that due to lack of car/motorbike horn i resorted to swearing at those two dicks at Southwark Bridge this morning.


upsidedown said:
That's the problem in ths country; our controlling government has had the same effect as an over-bearing parent. We have become a nation of spoilt brats with no sense of responsibility.

Disagree with this. I think that it is the other way round; if the government is controlling it is because we are a nation of spoilt brats with no sense of responsibility.


Senior Member
I always acknowledge considerate motorists and pedestrians but I try to avoid confrontation with motorists because as already stated most people don't like to be criticised and motorists tend to use aggression as the best form of defence making it very easy for confrontation to get out of hand.

Ian Johnson

New Member
Having rants with car drivers etc is not the solution as the next idiot will be coming along later,they really need educating about how to drive around cyclists . My days of losing my temper are over, worst intance was last year when I was on a charity ride when a driver blew his horn so he could be infront of me, but the cars where only ging the same speed as the cyclists,he could not go anywhere.
I kept my position as i didnt want to be in the gutter ,then i felt his front bumper hit my back wheel.not sure if he did this deliberatly but it seemed like it at the time. I saw the red mist ,I rode directly infront of him then slowed and put the bike down infont of his car, banged on the bonnet with my fist,went up to his window where he and his wife were sat and yelled,' are your trying to f**** kill me. he yelled somthing back then drove away just missing my bike,as he did I punched the car and I think I dented it. I hated myself for loosing it. I have more self conrtol now and just ignore bad driving, like I said , rant at them all you like ,the next bad driver will be along later, you will spend all you time getting uptight ,not what cyclings about
I wouldn't hate you for losing it...if some dickhead did that to me I would lose it.

There is no excuse for that sort of intimidation just because they feel so safe in their metal box.
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