As a group we are pretty good about paying attention to safety issues. But once in a while an event occurs that points to the fact that more work on group safety is needed.
One such event occurred yesterday on our ride. One that, I think should be shared.
There is no question that this event could have and should have been avoided. Hopefully we can use it as a reminder experience and think of better ways to manage situations like this in the future. Because I wasn’t part of the group, I am going to report generalities, not specifics.
Here is a general description of the event:
A group of our riders, experienced riders, were confronted by a car full of guys. One or two of the guys in the car were angered by something one or more of our riders did or said. This led to a verbal exchange. The car then moved to the front of the rider group and stopped. A car door swung open in the way of our group, obviously forcing the riders to make a sudden stop. Words were exchanged and a slight confrontation followed. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and it all ended well. But it could have had a very different outcome. It could have escalated to involve all 14 of our riders who were in the group today. A little imagination can easily take you to a few alternative endings, none of which would be positive
All this offers a number of safety points for all of us to talk and think about:
1. When we ride together, we are responsible for each other. This includes each of our personal actions. It is our responsibility to conduct ourselves as part of a larger group, not as individuals, no matter what the situation.
2. A confrontation, any confrontation with a motorist always has the potential to be a major safety event for a cyclist. If the confrontation escalates, we cyclists lose, always lose. Like it or not, the best way for a cyclist or group of cyclists to deal with an upset motorist is to be humble and totally non-confrontational. I know, this isn’t in our DNA, but it is the smart response. It requires the cyclist to exhibit maximum patience. So, in the heat of the moment, just let it go. Take a deep breath, smile, nod your head and wave —- let it go. Bitch about it later with your fellow riders over a cup of coffee.
3. Pay attention to motor vehicle traffic. When the call ‘car back’ is heard, forward the call to riders ahead of you and move into a single file line, everyone move to single file. Moving inside the shoulder line of bike lane line, and remaining two riders abreast might be OK on wide boulevards, but not so on narrower roads. So, I suggest one rule, “When you hear the call ‘car back’ move to a single file line, always. Make it you habit and a future traffic problem will be minimized.
Let’s work on this.
I agree, this is always a no win situation for cyclists. Better to keep a cool head and just let it go. I know this can be hard some times.
Thanks for sharing. We can always learn for this experience.
Break out the cell phone camera/s. Shoot the car license plate at least, and the knuckleheads, if possible. Hard to do, even harder to think clearly at the time.
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