why is my commute making me angry?

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  • why is my commute making me angry?
  • Premier Icon adsh
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    Get a child trailor instead of panniers or a back pack.

    Maybe add a blonde pony tail.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    remember your baggies, peaked helmet and camelbak and you’re safe

    Maybe.. or maybe roadie was a bit ‘roadie-ist’ when I should say ‘looking like one of those bloody cyclists’ : )

    Premier Icon cookeaa
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    Drivers hate cyclists. They believe you shouldn’t be on the road and if you get hurt it’s your own fault because you shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Unfortionately, I think that’s the view of most drivers at the moment.

    Nah, don’t agree, Some Drivers just have a strong dislike of cyclists, perhaps cyclists personify some perceived societal ill or another that bothers them.

    But it is a minority of motorists, the vast majority of car drivers (who, like cyclists are also people) don’t actually behave like dicks, I generally don’t get abused by strangers most times I go out on a bike in public, conflict is the exception not the rule IME which is why it sticks in the mind when it does occur…

    That said I did re-route my commute last summer due to feeling a bit bullied like the OP describes, and felt bad for it at the time, like I’d voluntarily given up my right of way just because of a fear of shouty, angry, close passing goons, I’ve re-adopted the old route lately (due to flooding mostly) and TBH something has clicked and I’m not feeling anything like as harassed any longer… makes me wonder how much of it was in my mind.

    January is generally a “bad mood month” and we’ve just gone past “Blue Monday”. Moods are generally low at the minute, and people act/respond accordingly, but it can only get better as the days get lighter and longer now, and February will mean people don’t have to wait so long between paydays…

    “Them and us” type threads (like the one I started yesterday 😳 ) don’t really help, youtube footage of shouty fools and incidents, Various clarkson (and clarkson-esq) TV, paper and web articles all help build the perception of there being some sort of major conflict between motorists and cyclists, but I honestly beleive its a disproportionate picture that only serves to make things worse as we all take to the road with these ways of thinking now lodged in our minds.

    “we shall not allow these people to pollute our minds with anger”

    I like that statement/mantra a lot, and I shall adopt it.

    samuri
    Member

    Definitely choose a route that avoids as much conflict as possible. Half of my commute is offroad and I love that part. The road part is as good as I can make it, I know where the conflict points are and generally address these by being fairly dominant. As soon as I’m past the danger areas I allow control back to the drivers. It seems to work really well, never had complaints or abuse using this method, I’m hoping because most people can see why I behave that way and that I do get out of the way as soon as it’s safe.

    As for when abuse happens, nowadays I feel pity for them. It’s always in a bizarre place like the OP states, riding along, not slowing anyone down but they feel the need to vent. They’re in a car so they’re having a far worse commute than me no matter what the weather is like.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    “we shall not allow these people to pollute our minds with anger”

    I like that statement/mantra a lot, and I shall adopt it.
    Agreed. In the words of a wise Welshman,
    ‘..If you don’t like it, stop complaining
    I’m the one getting wet when it’s raining..’

    VanMan
    Member

    I agree with Cookeaa, it is only a minority of motorists, but not only do they dislike cyclists they also dislike other drivers.

    Basically they drive like they are entitled to be first everywhere, so tailgate, don’t allow filtering from side streets, don’t let people cross the road, don’t let buses out, squeeze in to non-existent gaps in traffic etc annoying everyone around them.

    Basically some people are just aggressive tossers. Wish we could all get retested every five/ten years (this is me speaking as a high mileage driver by the way!)

    I had this a while ago. I did:
    A) check how I was riding. I was starting to be a bit of a dick. Too much jumping up and down onto the pavement, red lights etc. I fixed the attitude and generally things are nicer.
    B) bought a fixed gear. Somehow it is much less stressful to ride.

    IanW
    Member

    Agree with Jameso regards the civvies, its another reason I rarely wear the prescribed safety wear garb(treads carefully to avoid the usual) as it seperates you out as different from car drivers.

    Theres also a lot in the press recently and the media industry seems to be about trolling up inflamatory stories.

    I could recount loads of incident and over the years Ive reacted in everyway imaginable from dispair to anger and lots in between.

    I was thinking on this mornings commute about my father who campaigned for years to get the speed reduced on the road through our village. It never happened and one day his car was struck by a speeding truck pushing him into a wall and the pitch fork he used to tend the cricket club through his back.
    I expect in some twist of fate to make a lot of noise about road safety and suffer a similar comeupance.

    So now I just try to get were am going without getting killed, much of human race is a bit thick, some of them are **** and some are both.

    Premier Icon imnotverygood
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    And wear civvies. I ride the same section of roads through town in my roadie kit as well as sometimes in jeans or trackie bottoms, a down jacket and trainers with a beanie hat on. I notice less dumb passes and more general space as a bloke on bike rather than a ‘cyclist’.

    The research doesn’t support you on this:

    http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2013/11/26/overtaking-cyclists/

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
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    Traveling by car at rush hour can be hopelessly slow and stressful due to terrible traffic and road conditions means someone is to blame. Could it be the thousands of other people in their largely empty four wheeled horseless carriages many of whom could have done their journey more cheaply and easily by other means. Clearly this is heresy it must be that fit, healthy chap in the s&m shorts and plastic hat who takes up a tiny amount of space and yet goes faster than them.

    Caveat this is not aimed at those drivers who are not twits nor is it intended to exclude less healthy cyclists.

    boxfish
    Member

    I found the same on the commute for my previous job. I ended up changing my route for a slightly longer, altogether more mellow pootle.

    thekettle
    Member

    +1 another vote for changing your route. I now take a hillier 50 minute route on quiet lanes rather than my original 35 minute route shared with rat-race commuters. Much more relaxing.

    hh45
    Member

    It can be worth complaining. I felt badly cut up by a John Lewis van before Christmas and managed to remember the number and emailed them. After 6 weeks chasing by me I have a decent response; i.e. unreserved apology and confirmation that the bloke driving will be spoken to. Maybe a sop but makes me feel better.

    I do think that all the bad stories / threads encourage a feeling of persecution when in reality I don’t think any motorist wants to knock us off, if only because it may delay them.

    brooess
    Member

    OP I feel your pain. Harrassment and bullying is a normal part of cycling in the UK at the moment – so many people have an anecdote or several. It’s become so normalised that the local authority training courses and John Franklin’s cyclecraft all acknowledge that what underpins everything they teach you is protecting yourself from lousy driving. Pretty much everything they teach would be irrelevant if people were more careful, considerate and obeyed the law…

    I had my own ‘I’m sick of the ill-treatment’ moment before xmas, just after we lost so many riders here in London. I ended up having a row with a bus driver who gave me a close pass on a road with two lanes (could have easily passed me with space). He told me it would be my own fault if he killed me…. you can’t have an adult debate with someone like that really!

    It’s very rare I row with anyone, I’d just had enough of repeated crap treatment. What I learnt from it though was that I played a role in the conflict by responding to his ill-treatment. The commute didn’t make me angry, I chose to respond to the bad treatment of others with anger…

    I’ve decided now to let these things go and my riding is once more enjoyable. It’s interesting talking to a roadie friend of mine from Brixton. As both a black man and a cyclist he faces more than his fair share of prejudice but he’s totally chilled about it. He’s learnt that he loses if he lets anger take hold of him.

    A few things I would recommend:
    1. Find yourself a mantra that reminds you the problem is theirs and not to let their anger infect you. Haters are always going to hate!
    2. Read John Franklin’s Cyclecraft
    3. Book yourself on a local authority course. I’ve been riding for 36 years and did Level 2 on Saturday and learnt loads
    4. Find a quieter route, it can work wonders

    Premier Icon jameso
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    re riding in civvies

    The research doesn’t support you on this:

    Maybe not and I’ve read that report, but that’s my perception or experience. Perhaps it’s my behavior that’s modified also, my speed is lower and I’m more relaxed, maybe I’m more defensive when riding w/o a lid on. I do think there’s less ‘them and us’ in the civvie situation although that probably affects a pretty small number of drivers.

    Also, that research doesn’t show the average passing distance in each case, just that there’s always a few idiots whatever you wear. That, we know )
    On re-reading, it also says “Ian Walker previously used similar equipment to show that men and women are treated differently by passing motorists – a finding since confirmed by researchers in the USA and Taiwan”
    And that does back up my perception that there may be a snap decision made by the driver based on who or what they see. If it varies for male/female riders I expect there’s other variables too – old/young, civvie/pro-roadie etc?

    Premier Icon vincienup
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    +1 for bad cyclists and bad drivers – the bad drivers are just more dangerous and easier to see due to the big metal tent on wheels.

    I work shifts and notice that drivers in my city are usually at their least clued up around 8am. A bit earlier or later makes all the difference to how much attention they seem to be paying.

    People getting crap at work, trying to make up lost time from accidents/roadworks/the amusing ‘safety conscious driver’ forcing everyone behind them to do 15 mph for no good reason etc all add to things that lead to annoyed and less attentive road users (four wheeled and two!)

    I know the little marked out cycle lanes can be frikkin annoying at times and potential door traps, but I guarantee it winds drivers up for no good reason when a proud lycra warrior insists on ignoring a cycle lane and ‘taking the lane’ instead.

    Personally I put a lot of my good luck with low incidence of meeting narky drivers down to stuff like obeying traffic lights, not taking the piss weaving between traffic (ie, holding my place) and not cheekily hopping the kerb to take a pedestrian crossing or ignore a stop light.

    Like hh45 above, I’m really not sure that all the negative stories and internet videos help. And at the time last year, I got really sick of drivers at work ranting about the program with the videos of the insane London cycle couriers…

    A bit of live and let live goes a very long way.

    duckman
    Member

    To the OP, I will vary my route depending on time of day,and l don’t have an especially busy town to ride through. Riding a bike is my time and changing the way I go from time to time is based not on the odd tube in a car,but on wanting to enjoy it(getting the odd hill in) as much as I can. Within this I recognize that there is going to be a short section that will always be rubbish. But view your commute as the sum of parts and the good outweighs the bad by a factor of x. Oh and dicks don’t just drive vans,they also come in cars,buses,bikes and on foot. Sometimes they just congregate,increasing you chances of meeting them. My reaction is generally, to quote the penguins of Madagascar ” smile and wave.”

    Premier Icon NZCol
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    Its not just the UK.
    I smile and wave, it’s not even worth getting riled about. Ride sensibly, behave and be respectful if someone lets you out etc acknowledge that. I was gently nudged this morning by a fella eating his breakfast and texting while driving. Drifted into me. Not great but he got a massive fright. I saw it coming and didn;t have a lot of options other than stay where i was.

    Big M
    Member

    I’m in the same boat, been commuting for ages but currently finding it much less pleasurable. I’ ve been on the end of too many shouty/ranty motorists, I’ve just noticed the number of close passes has increased. I live in a small village & have to negotiate a busy road to get into the city. Now it seems the number of close passes has risen and so has the number of cyclists. I’m guessing that drivers are getting fed up & trying to squeeze by (at 60!). Me, I’m generally pretty calm about most things but this is pissing me off.
    I’m trying to keep cool about it all until it’s dry enough to take the off-road mtb route again.
    I do believe the increase in the numbers of folk commuting by bike has had an impact & that drivers are becoming less patient & less tolerant as they become increasingly frustrated by having to make allowance’s for cyclists.

    q

    Marmoset
    Member

    I think it’s due to the weather, and I’ve noticed it when I drove a lot. I definitely noticed that there was a lot more aggro on the motorways towards the end of winter, as everyone was fed up of it being dark/raining/whatever – the mood lightened up as soon as spring sprung and almost made the commute bearable.

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    Riding home last night, straight out of my building young woman drives passed me with her lunch/tea in a takeaway carton on her lap, just dipping her right hand in to grab another mouthful of whatever it is and her phone wielded to her left hand.

    “I will not let them pollute my mind with anger etc”

    Not going to rise to it, ignore her and carry on my merry way. Later on, bus lane, pulling away from the lights and whoosh white van man tear arses passed me using the bus lane to undertake an HGV that was a bit tardy pulling away, despite no headphones and my spidey senses set to 11 I didn’t hear his approach due to all the other revving to pull away from the lights.

    “I will not let them pollute my mind with anger”

    Soon after I pass the van and don’t respond just ride away, coz I hear bottling stuff up is a really good way of dealing with it.

    Not getting all sweary is self control, not giving a fig about someone doing something naughty over there >>>>>> away from you I guess is possibly where a relaxed attitude comes in. Not getting pissed off when someone endangers you….how do you deal with that? You can keep your outward emotions bottled up and not say a word, good luck with your blood pressure, I’m not sure if it is possible to not care about other idiots putting your life in danger tho.

    Think I’ll try to keep quiet about road “indiscretions” but when someone scares the shit out off me I shall still be venting a little steam.

    Premier Icon jameso
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    Not getting pissed off when someone endangers you….how do you deal with that?

    I do believe that most of the time, 99% maybe, that the danger we feel isn’t intended by drivers, it’s a result of poor driving from people stressed and isolated from the world in their cars. It’s simple ignorance and I alone there and then have no chance of changing that unless I can have a simple conversation with them, and that’s rare. I hate to say it but bad driving is something we know is going to happen and the challenge is to ride through the city like a flowing superhero, aware and safe and unaffected by the crazies, rising above the filth and the rats that surround us. Or something )

    ‘Be like water’ – Bruce Lee

    Premier Icon DezB
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    Well said jameso.
    A lot of the time the danger isn’t intended: Most of them are just complete idiots.
    Wishing I could follow the philosophy 🙂

    Premier Icon jameso
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    Me too.. it’s a challenge, but a better one than the futile rage caused by reacting against it all.

    Premier Icon amedias
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    Well thanks for all your posts guys, interesting to hear that I’m not the alone in the ‘was once calm, but then it all built up and got on top of me’ camp.

    Last night I left work, took as many back roads and cycle paths as possible to get me to the estuary trail, tucked into the drops and spun out the stress on a trip to the beach. I sat on the sea wall and listened to the waves and the wind for about 10mins, smelled the cold salty air and then had the most leisurely ride back home I’ve had in a while, met my girlfriend at the end of her run in town and spun gently home feeling a much calmer person than yesterday.

    This morning I took the same route into work as normal, I counted two close passes, one guy overtook me and then tried to left hook me before realising what he was about to do, and I then saw this chap weaving along the pavement to many pedestrian scowls as he forced them to stop or move out of his way.

    But today I am not angry.

    We will see what tomorrow brings…

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    I do believe that most of the time, 99% maybe, that the danger we feel isn’t intended by drivers,

    True, doesn’t reduce the fear/anger/stress that it creates in me tho does it? Plus in my example someone deliberately did something they knew to be wrong, he was just maybe ignorant of how close is too close for a cyclist, so only minimum mitigation for white van man.

    Me too.. it’s a challenge, but a better one than the futile rage caused by reacting against it all

    depends dunnit, a calm conversation expressing why what the driver did was wrong and how it could have badly affected the cyclist is not going to happen in 99% of cases. A rant is probably not going to change the drivers way, but expressing your fear may get the message to the driver that what they did, whether they consider it right or wrong, did upset the cyclist. Having a bloody good shout and then forgetting about the incident could be a good way of de-stressing yourself so not entirely futile. Letting a load of “futile rage” just build up isn’t going to be good is it? If you can channel it through your cranks then that’s all the better. Depends on the individual I guess.

    I’m not saying shouting and raving like a loon at car drivers is the best way forward but it’s certainly understandable in some cases – IMO

    Premier Icon jameso
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    It’s understandable, of course. And our reaction is always fear and adrenaline/anger in a dangerous situation, purely natural. What I’m getting at is trying to rationalise it in a way that means we can deal with it without a building anger that has to be suppressed. Easier said than done! But I’ve been through the new road rider to angry road rider phase and I see my only option is to move on, or quit.

    I think you’re right that there’s some positive in a driver seeing a reaction that means they may have done something wrong, however when we screw up we tend to have a reaction somewhere between defensive and in denial, so more often than not that situation will be relayed by the driver to friends or colleagues as ‘one of those crazy cyclists’ as their way of unburdening or absolving themselves. So the them vs us cycle continues and the end result may be neutral to our cause at best.

    duckman
    Member

    Jameso= maharishi of STW! 😆

    Premier Icon jameso
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    ‘k off : )

    Premier Icon D0NK
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    What I’m getting at is trying to rationalise it in a way that means we can deal with it without a building anger that has to be suppressed.

    Like i said not sure how possible it is to not get worked up when you have just been in fear for your life. Gonna take some pretty ****ing hardcore zen.

    however when we screw up we tend to have a reaction somewhere between defensive and in denial

    I don’t get this. It certainly seems to be what I get from drivers. I’ve apologised when I’ve screwed up, I’ve had other cyclists apologise (but the sheer amount of driver idiocy vs cyclists that i’ve experienced is going to sway my perception) In a previous thread I’ve said if you’re doing something that you know drivers may be ignorant of/disagree with (eg taking primary) but you should be doing, your first reaction will, probably justifiably, be antagonistic if someone beeps/shouts at you, but there seems to be a lot of “don’t you criticize me you ****” mentality even when people know they’ve done wrong. Or indeed jump out and offer some fist pie.

    What you’re suggesting is possibly idealistic just don’t think it’s realistic.
    if it works for you, chapeu

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