I rarely get the opportunity to confront drivers who lay on their horns, buzz me, or otherwise make my commute difficult. Back in March, I had one morning ride that was different.
As I’m approaching my school on a VERY narrow, 20′ long concrete bridge, a driver laid on their horn for about 10 seconds (before, during, and after passing). As I’m giving my customary middle finger, I notice this woman is on her cell phone, which only adds to my irritation. With my school in sight, I continue pedaling when I notice that the 20MPH SCHOOL ZONE flashers are lit, and I manage to actually catch up to her as she has been forced to slow down. To add to my irritation, she pulls in to the school next to mine and is obviously not a student.
I pulled in after her and, as she slammed to a stop upon seeing me, I said, “Seriously? Laying on your horn at me while you’re talking on your phone and driving? What were you trying to prove?” Her response: “You need to get your fucking ass out of the road!” while wagging her finger at me, STILL ON THE PHONE. I asked her where she felt I ought to go, given that there are no sidewalks and no curb space in this area, when I realized that nothing good will come of the conversation. She continued hollering at me, I said a few choice words at her, and took off. She parked as I continued riding by, and for good measure, she laid on the horn again.
I hate this kind of confrontation for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it accomplishes nothing, and actually may serve to make things worse. By saying it may “make matters worse”, I’m not only suggesting that she will hate all cyclists to the end of time due to my reaction, but also that there is only one way for me to get to school from home – the area is not residential and you’re forced through a narrow bottleneck. Obviously, I’m going to be seeing her again (and there’s little doubt she’s probably already seen me before). This time it was her horn and yelling. Next time might be…?
During my planning period, I put this together: http://goo.gl/1KzIQ and wrote a very brief, unfelt apology for my reaction to the whole thing, rode over and put it under her wiper blades. I expected nothing in return for it (and actually was concerned it might make her more angry, even with the apology).
Two days later on my morning on the ride in, at almost the exact same spot as before, this woman passed me again, but this time there was no horn honking or exchanges of words.
As much as it pissed me off that I included an apology note with the Florida Traffic Laws for Cyclists and put it under her wiper, it apparently did some good. This alone made it worthwhile to me (as long as it continues).
How do you deal with this type of confrontation? Or do you engage this type of driver at all?