How to backpedal from road rage incidents
You have to remember that the other guy (or girl) is the bigger guy (or girl) in these situations. You can’t exactly contest your road rights while your competitor is in a vehicle so many time bigger and heavier than yours. At this point, wisdom must be the better part of valor.
So here’s what you can do once the situation starts to turn ugly.
Defuse the situation
A good majority of road rage incidents begin with the driver either swearing, gesturing or jeering at a cyclist or driving in a manner that can raise the hairs on a cyclist’s neck e.g. cutting them off.
As a law abiding cyclist, it’s usually best not to escalate the situation by responding in kind or taking things any further. If you respond by say, flipping the bird, it may feel good to you at the moment.
But what it actually does is escalate a situation you could have avoided. Plus, it can make you an instigator in the eyes of the law which means you may have to own the fault for the incident. So, it’s best to respond calmly and try not to take things further.
Disengage from conflict
As soon as you can, get yourself as far as is physically possible from the angry driver. This is because you have no idea what they might do at any time. And they may do anything, from turning ice cream fuzziness against you to picking you and dumping you out of the road.
A study of gun violence data showed that incidences of gun violence in road rage incidents more than doubled between 2014 to 2016. There were 620 incidents during that period where a road user brought out a gun or fired it. You simply don’t want things to get that far.
You can get on the shoulder of the road, slow down and let the driver pass you or even stop altogether until they’re long gone. The point is to find yourself a way out of there that’s safe and keeps you in one piece.
If you find yourself in a situation that you can’t easily escape and the driver is physically aggressive, you should know that you have the right to defend yourself. But only reasonably.
A rule of thumb is: don’t do more than is done to you by the driver. Even better, do everything to avoid violence. You can put your bike between the driver and yourself.
And as soon as you get the chance...
Call the cops
This makes the driver think twice about coming after you, especially if you make the call live so the dispatcher can hear what’s going on.
This way, you can avoid the situation, log a complaint with law enforcement and bag yourself some tidy evidence all in one swoop. No bad for a single move eh?
At the end of the day, it’d usually be your word against theirs especially if there are no witnesses about. So try to make sure you’re not the one having to explain the huge shiner on the driver’s face.
Don’t let your cycling put you in trouble
Best thing in road rage incidents is to take yourself as far from trouble as your bike will allow. While you can’t outrun vehicles for sheer speed, bikes are way nimbler and allow you a lot of freedom with terrain. Use your bike to your advantage.
Until stricter laws are imposed against drivers that attack cyclists on the road, your safety is pretty much in your own hands. But be smart when exercising your right. Use it, don’t abuse it.