Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Monroe, Louisiana
Jerks and idiots will act like jerks and idiots, especially if they think the object of their abuse can't retaliate, which cyclists pretty much cannot and riders should not, do. Anyone on two, or even three wheels needs to keep their temper under control when dealing with cagers, no matter the provocation. A rider that takes on a cage is going to loose about 99.99% of the time - it's a matter of physics. Bigger vehicle trumps smaller one in any collision, and riders are exposed while cagers travel in a protective cocoon.
One thing I believe everyone has experienced is a vehicle following too closely. I found this tip at an online motorcycle safety site. Extend the left hand down, palm backward, and slowly make a front to rear sweeping motion, as if sweeping the vehicle back. In my experience, the majority of the time, the cager understands and backs off. If they do, give them a thumbs up "thank you". If they don't, when it is safe to do so, pull over and let them pass. I had one guy return the thumbs up gesture when I turned onto another street and he passed. Definitly a learning moment for both of us.
On those occasions where my mindset was correct, in a non-confrontational way, I have talked with offending cagers who didn't respond to the gesture. The first was a lady that was following way too close, and didn't pick up on my hand signal. I followed her into a parking lot and said, from a distance, "Excuse me mamm, do you have a minute?" She responded in the affirmative, so I explained what the gesture meant, and told her that riders can go down without warning on loose gravel, sand, and other surfaces that aren't a problem for motorists. She thanked me, and another cager was educated. The second was a man, and the only available parking space was pretty close to his vehicle. When I spoke to him, he was visibly shaking (all bikers are scary myth). I gave him the same spiel as the lady, and, obviously relieved, he also thanked me.
It's far better to build bridges to the uneducated than it is to burn them.
There was one guy who I believe understood the gesture, but didn't give a rip. After giving it twice, he pulled even closer to me. So I pulled off the road, told him what I thought of him (to myself), and let him pass. As I said earlier, jerks and idiots will behave one way. Getting visibly upset or showing the rigid digit, only lets them know they have succeeded in yanking your chain, and does nothing to help educate the ignorant.