On Oct 31, 2006, at 9:17 AM, Bill Goldston wrote:
> No, you were trying to provoke him because he made a mistake and came
> in too close to you.
You may be able to argue that that was how the guy PERCEIVED my
actions. That does not mean, however, that that was my actual
INTENTION, as you imply.
PROVOKING him would have been something like kicking out his tail light
or smashing off his side mirror. I'll admit, in the past, I have been
tempted to do things like that in the past. However, I have worked
hard to remember that most motorists aren't being intentionally
aggressive. Most simply don't understand the realities of cycling in
traffic. That realization has blunted my anger during such incidents.
I have no reason to be angry if the other person is not being
In this case, I felt no anger (except perhaps a flash of it when the
guy actually got out of his car, which was clearly a malicious act).
My sole purpose was to educate, not take revenge. One might argue my
method in attempting to educate was a bit gung-ho, but vengeance was
NOT a motivation. Revenge is useless. All it does it make the other
No one learns anything from a vengeful act. However, giving the man
some rational information, which was what I WAS trying to do, gives him
an opportunity to learn what he did wrong and learn from his mistake.
So, at least there was a chance (however small) that this guy MIGHT
have learned something from my flier. If, however, I'd simply done
something vengeful like damaging his car, there was no chance he'd
> I am not sure, but I think you broke the law, when you put the flier
> on his windshield. At that point he had no choice but to put himself
> in danger by removing the flyer as it would obstruct his vision.
OK, I'd better clarify here: the guy got out of his car BEFORE I put
the flier on the windshield, not after. I don't know what he did after
I put the flier under his wiper. I was pedaling away by then.
> What if it had been a frail old lady and you had done that.
If it had been, and I noticed that, I probably WOULD have backed down,
took the license plate and reported the incident to police. Why?
Well, if she was frail and old and passing that close, chances are she
was one of those elderly people we hear of in the news so often who
insists on continuing to drive even though she's no longer capable of
doing so safely. Better to report the incident and try to get her off
the road altogether before she hurts herself or others.
The same thing would apply if, when I approached the car, I smelled
alcohol. Again, there's no opportunity to educate if the driver is
drunk. Again, better to let the police handle it.
However, when we're talking about a sober, capable driver who's fully
competent and able to understand my message, I'd rather deliver it
myself rather than involve the police for two reasons:
1. It demonstrates to the driver that he or she cannot intimidate
cyclists just because they ARE cyclists. Chances are, the motorist
will think twice before being aggressive toward a cyclist again.
2. I believe in treating others the way I'd want to be treated. If I
inadvertently wrong someone, I'd rather they tell me and try to work it
out with me face to face before involving police. I only go the police
if either the person rejects what I'm saying after I've already talked
to them or if I can't catch them to talk to them in the first place.
Otherwise, not even trying to talk to the person first and going
straight to the police is, in my mind, cowardly and disrespectful to
> I think your actions should be to write a letter to the Dept of Motor
> Vehicles and make a written complaint against the vehicle owner by
> quoting the licence plate. If a plate has 3 signed, written complaints
> against it, the owner will be called in for an interview.
How many cyclists do you know who actually do this? The chances any
motorist who does things like this will EVER have THREE signed, written
complaints against him or her are so slim as to make this technique all
Even if it DOES result in an interview, by the time the interview
happens, the driver will likely have forgotten the details of the
incidents that spurred the written complaints in the first place.
Better to talk to the driver while the memory of the incident is still
fresh in his/her mind so they can understand clearly what the did and
why it was a mistake.
> By the way, it is not a "right" if it causes any harm to anyone else.
I agree. I caused him no harm. I also did not block his way, did not
incite violence and did not try to provoke him. He was stopped in
traffic, as he would have been even if I hadn't been there, and I took
the opportunity to provide him with some information.
John A. Ardelli