My god these motorists with their complete disregard for the law.

I’d hoped to write about something more fun today (like my new road bike which is totally awesome but I’m not going to write about it until I have some time to do it properly). Instead, I have to dutifully file another….


A motorist honked at me yesterday on my ride to work. I was riding in the right-most lane that is allowed to go straight through the intersection (the far-right lane is right-turn only). A Volvo station wagon honked at me. When he pulled into the adjacent lane to pass me (there was plenty of room to do so), I asked him what his problem was. He said I needed to get over to the right. I pointed out that I was over as far to the right as was safely possible. He hurried off down the street. He was then stuck in a small traffic jam when a truck needed to back across both lanes of traffic in order to make a drop at the hotel. I had continued at my usual 15 MPH so I easily caught up to him. For some reason he didn’t feel the need to honk at all of the cars in his way. Eventually they cleared up and he raced ahead. Then he was caught by the traffic light. It was very much a tortoise and hare situation so I enjoyed going in the same direction as he, always easily catching up with him without expending much effort. I never passed him, just pulled up behind him. I lost my concentration on my bike handling a couple times which led to this:

Bike Commute Fail!

Greasy Khakis! I have shamed my people.


As I was biking down Benefit this morning (minding my own, cruising slowly on the ’68 Raleigh Sports), I was behind a Cable company van that was followed by an Accord. A Honda Element turned into the street just in front of me and then followed the Accord quite closely, weaving out to the left on occasion. The cable van was going pretty slow – 15 MPH on a 25 MPH speed limit street. This was not sufficiently fast enough for the driver of the Element. He passed the Accord and the cable van in one quick move, darting into the opposing lane. I’d seen RI drivers pull this sort of stunt before (passing on a two-lane street), but not on a street as narrow as Benefit. For those unfamiliar with Benefit – it is a two-way street, one lane in each directions with a parking lane on one side. At some points on the street, there’s not enough room for cars to pass each other going in opposite directions. So the Element passes both the car and cable van. A little bit later, I see that the driver has made a U-turn and is parallel parking in the opposite direction (this maneuvre caused the Cable van and Accord to slow down). I stopped opposite the Element and pulled my bike up onto the sidewalk. I just wanted to see what kind of idiot would pull this sort of move in order to save himself 20 seconds. The driver got out of his car and calmly walked to a RISD building. If he was in such a hurry, why wasn’t he running?


After installing a cup holder on the Raleigh Sports, I’m often looking for excuses to use it. It’s iced coffee season here in Rhode Island, so for this morning’s coffee break, I headed to the Seven Stars on Broadway for some cool, caffeinated refreshment. I gotta admit, I love cruising down a street and reaching out to my cup holder to take a sip of iced coffee. Anyhow, I approached the part of Broadway just before it crossed I-95 and heads downtown. There are two distinct lanes her, plus a non-marked lane on the right that people use to turn right. I signaled and moved into the legitimate right hand lane so that cars could pass me on the right in order to make right-hand turns. And a car did just that. However, the driver felt it necessary to yell, “You’re not a car!” at me as she passed. I have tried to bike in a more curteous manner, obeying (almost) all traffic laws and exercising a vehicular cycling strategy. And yet, I still have interactions like this. Oh well. I swear this whole biking thing is going to turn me into a crabby old man before I turn 40.

* I’ve borrowed the idea of the Honk Report from Andy at Carbon Trace. For me it’s an attempt to quantify the number or rude interactions I have with motorists. It’s always easy to remember an egregious incident, but hard to spot a trend. Today’s report counts as a double. That makes 10 honks since May 7, 2010 – slightly less than 1 per week. Andy gets honked at less.

Alright, I can’t help it, here’s a shot of the new road bike, peeking out from just outside my office.

8 responses to “My god these motorists with their complete disregard for the law.

  1. When I get honked or yelled at I stew awhile and fantasize what – if I had a quicker wit – I would have yelled as a retort. Maybe that’s an evolved response helping me prepare for a repeat offense, I don’t know.

    If I ever get the “You’re not a car” comment I hope I’m quick enough to reply “Law says I’m a vehicle”.

    • The quickness of my wit allows me to say things like, “AYHSMB.” Unfortunately, most motorists don’t get references to BikeSnobNYC. The witty reply I thought of 2 minutes later was, “You’re not much of a driver.”

  2. I often have fantasies of buying some caltrops and using them for offending drivers like that. And then fantasies turn to this brilliant idea.

    Why flatten the tires, I want to go for more serious disabling of the vehicle.

    Only problem is that it isn’t just that mounting a microwave dish on the bike would be a little much but the power supply (Several very HEAVY capacitors) would be a little ungainly.

    But the trailing of offending vehicles left permanently disabled by the side of the road, priceless.

    • I’ll just stick with the daggers of my stare. The next honk I get will be met with complete indifference. We’ll see how I feel after that.

  3. The calculator is there to let you quickly tally up why you need to bring the bike into the office and not leave it at the rack in the lobby, right?

    • Ha! I was trying to have the adding machine represent work that needs to get done, while the bike represents the desire to go have some fun. The bike was well secured in the lobby (u-lock plus a cable, plus it’s under the watchful gaze of a security camera). I had to work late, so I brought it into the office so I wouldn’t trip the building’s alarm by going into the lobby to unlock it. Plus I wanted to take this picture.

  4. The Honk? I get a couple each week. I use it to gauge my fitness. A Honk and “Get off the road!”, means I’m getting a little flabby and should probably spend more time in the saddle. A Honk and “Nice ass!”, means I’m doing OK.

    And when folks try to tell me I shouldn’t be riding a bike in the road (or other nonsense advice) I usually just shake my head in disappointment and continue to ride faster than they drive.

    • I think if I got more honks I’d get more used to it to the point where I’d be able to not react. And if I got fewer honks, they could be rare enough that they would just seem totally anomalous. But at the rate of 1 per week, they are just plain aggravating. I’m trying to go the route of ignoring the honkers. Or blowing them kisses.

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