Bikers Beware: Handling Drivers' Road Rage While Cycling

by John Daugherty, BTCNJ

New York State Trooper Briana Martinez was the featured speaker at the Nov 2019 Rockland Bicycling Club meeting. Here are a few takeaways from her talk. BTCNJ Advocacy and Safety Chairperson John Daughtery was also in attendance and wrote up these notes for the Dec 2019 edition of the MasterLink newsletter. 

Regarding Road Rage
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  • While road rage and/or confrontation is not acceptable at any time, bike riders should obey all traffic laws so as not to antagonize an already aggressive driver.
  • Most drivers are unaware that bicyclists have a right to the road.
  • If a driver... 
    • yells at you, just ignore them. Do not yell back, give them the middle finger, or throw an object at the car (I have seen riders throw water bottles). 
    • pulls over in front of you, do not confront them. Ride away if possible. 
    • pulls over to the side of the road and confronts you and is acting in a threatening manner, back off and tell them you do not want any trouble. If this does not work get out your cell phone and dial 911 (in the case where no one picks up quickly or you are unable to speak leave the phone on so the dispatcher can hear whats going on). In addition, if possible start video taping. Trooper Martinez says that 95% of the drivers will leave under these circumstances. Record the vehicle license plate number if possible. Also note physical characteristics of the driver so that you can provide a description to the police if that becomes necessary.
Other Best Practices

  • Do not wear all black clothing. You want drivers to see you.
  • If you are involved in a crash, be sure to call the police so you will have a accident report. Simply exchanging names, addresses and insurance information is not recommended as you want to have a record of the incident in case of future legal proceedings. 
  • If a bicycle-vehicle crash occurs and the driver leaves the scene, they can be charged just like any other accident.
  • A video camera on your bike is a good option so that you will have video evidence of exactly what occurred.

© Rockland Bicycling Club 2020