S#!7 Motorists say to cyclists

Yeah, yeah, that meme is so last month. Still, there seems to be a theme in the things that motorists say to me when I’m on my bike.

The most common thing that motorists say to me is


I’ve mostly reached a state of zen on getting honked at. I (mostly) don’t care and just let it slide off me. Sometimes though, if the honk is delivered for a longer period of time, or the motorist is particularly close – it just throws me into a blind rage. I was honked at last night, a few blocks from my home. Instead of making the turn onto my block, I put the pedal(s) down and followed the car. I could have caught up to them, but they ran several stop signs (Richard at Cyclelicio.us has an interesting post on “scofflaw” motorists). What would I have done if I caught up with the driver? I dunno… doesn’t seem like it would be a teachable moment. But I was in a blind rage, so I sprinted. Eventually, my lack of cardiovascular fitness caught up with me. I was a little worn out from the sprint, but hey, no more blind rage!

The second most common thing that people say to me is

“Great day for a bike ride, huh?”

The first time this happened to me, I wasn’t sure what to do so I think I said “Uh, yeah, I guess it is.” Motorists can’t stop themselves from saying this, so I’ve come up with a few responses, only a few of which I’ve tried.

“Then what are you doing in a car?”

“Bike ride? I wish I had time for a bike ride, I’ve got to get to work!”

“It’s always a great day for a bike ride!”

“Hey Lance, get out of the way!”

Evidently, this happens pretty often to people, but it’s only happened to me once. I was too far away before I realized what they’d said. But since then, I’m ready for the next time I hear it:

“Lance rides a Trek, can’t you see this is a Cannondale?” [or Jamis, or Raleigh, depending on the situation]

“Hey Dale Earnhardt, go drive in circles somewhere!”

What sort of S#!7 do motorists say to you? Got any snappy comebacks?

14 responses to “S#!7 Motorists say to cyclists

  1. Richard Masoner

    I like that “Everyday is a great day for a bike ride” response 🙂

    Thanks for the link love.

  2. The last time a motorist said anything to me, he said he liked my shirt and then engaged in a smidge of small talk as we waited for the traffic light to change. I was in the left turn lane and he was off to my right in the through lane. The shirt had a picture of a bicycle on it and said “Use Full Lane – Change Lanes to Pass.” Oh, and the motorist was a Bedford Police Department Officer – who improved my perception of police with respect to cyclists noticeably. Thanks for your post. It caused me to think back on the event. Besides the honks, sometimes we get positive things as well. I cannot think of a single negative interaction I have ever had with Bedford’s Finest.

    • I haven’t had any comments from the PVD motorized police. I’ve tried to give a nod of recognition to the PVD bicycle police, but they are too busy salmoning or sidewalk riding.

      The number of negative interactions I’ve had with motorists in general has decreased in the last few years as I became more assertive in the lane, more observant in my approach to stop signs, traffic lights, and other laws.

  3. At least honkers are always good work a speedy workout whether you do anything after you catch them or not. Cars are also good to make the red lights change…but that’s it.

  4. You know, it would be a simple matter to rig a 13.8V gel cell, an noise source and amplifier and speaker on the bike. Say an MP3 of an air horn at 40db gain?

  5. matthewcoolidge

    I get an occasional “AAAAAH” from cars full of teenagers looking to get a rise out of me.

    Every so often I get a “Get on the sidewalk!”

    My coworker and I once got into a situation at a red light where a motorist honked at us while we were all stopped. I looked at her and said, “What?” She replied with something to the effect of “get out of the way”. At this point, neither of us should have said anything, maybe just taken the lane in anticipation of the light, but my coworker started mouthing off… What really confused me at the time was that she was wearing a badge. Not sure if she was a cop or some sort of security person, but I had this thought of “where do I start?” Oh yeah, and she was on the phone.

    • I haven’t heard a “get on the sidewalk!” in a while – but I’m ready for the next time I hear it. I think the best response is “Get on the highway!” Something tells me that they might not get the significance of that. I could go for the something a little more oblique like “Your tail light is out.” Or the dadaist “You’re not a fish!”

      on the phone – yeah, that’s usually the case.

  6. If they honk, at least you know they see you.

    • That’s true, but the implied message behind a honk is often “you are in MY way!” If a motorist means it just as a warning, it can be either misinterpreted as aggression, or startle the cyclist into swerving. If a motorist sees a cyclist, and passes the cyclist with plenty of room, then there is no need to warn the cyclist.

  7. Today my husband was towing me and my son in a trailer with his electric bike and a security guard on a sidewalk remarked in a snarky way “Now that’s cheating”. I couldn’t tell if he was referring to my husband or me & my son or if he was bitter because we weren’t paying for gas.

    BTW, we are car free in PVD too and this occured on Angel Street in front of Bank of America.

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