Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Sad Little Monkey Award for Aggressive Drivers

A sad little monkey, washed upon a rocky shore by the cruel tides of fate. My heart-felt gift to aggressive drivers.

To the big pickup driving man who roared up behind me and wailed on your horn Friday morning while I was riding my bicycle to work legally, safely, and predictably: THANKS MAN! What were you doing when you roared up behind the bicyclist in the bright red shirt in your 5000 pound stuff-hauling machine, 45 mph? IM-pressive! Before I explain my sense of gratitude to you for your egregious honking, though, allow me to share a few observations, and remind you of a few Arizona laws, which may accrue to your future advantage.

Foremost, a reminder about Arizona law: ARS 28-954 B, which says "If reasonably necessary to ensure the safe operation of a motor vehicle, the driver shall give an audible warning with the driver's horn but shall not otherwise use the horn when on a highway." To me, this means that you shouldn't blast your horn because you are carrying around a Friday morning load of pent-up rage and frustration, have a hangover from the 12er of Natty Lite you drank last night, or out of ignorance of the laws related to cycling in Arizona. Those reasons won't fly when the officer writes you a ticket for egregious honking.

After wailing on your horn, you buzzed by too close to me, straddle-passed me on a busy six lane street that is marked as a bike route on city maps, and probably pissed off (if not endangered) several of your fellow automobile drivers in the process. This all happening about five seconds before I planned to turn right onto a side street anyway. So in addition to the statutes you broke related to the legal and safe operation of your automobile*, which I recommend for your review by the way, I thought it might be helpful to mention a few bicycle-specific laws which you may not be aware of. I'm sure a lot of other people don't know about them, either, but it's interesting to me that you are the first person in over a year of my bicycle commuting who couldn't seem to plug the hole of their ignorance with common sense, courtesy, and general traffic practice. I will attempt to plug your hole.

28-735. Overtaking bicycles; civil penalties
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

28-812. Applicability of traffic laws to bicycle riders
A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.

28-815. Riding on roadway and bicycle path; bicycle path usage
A. A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:

        1. If overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
        2. If preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
        3. If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
        4. If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

These don't require much additional explanation, but if some illustrations and examples would help gel the concepts for you, I direct you to the excellent publication put out by the Arizona Department of Transportation, "Share the Road: A Guide for Bicyclists and Motorists". It's potentially eye-opening, or, in your case, hole-closing. Hey look, p. 28, "Horns Don't Help" was written just for you! P.18 and 29 are also great things to read about!

I said up top I would explain my gratitude toward you. After I analyzed our encounter, I realized that the cost was all on your side, and the benefit all on mine. Now, that obviously wouldn't have been the case if your errors had caused an accident, but they didn't, in this case. 

On your side, driving aggressively and erratically, breaking the law, and allowing your emotions to govern your actions, are all choices you made which have no long term upside. No good will come of them, in my opinion, not for you, and not for the rest of us sharing the road with you. You drove away pissed off, aggressive, and unpredictable. You left the encounter paying a heavy price, by my reckoning. 

On my side of the equation, the instant I heard you roar up behind me and wail on your horn, I felt a natural reaction of a dump of adrenaline, followed by a crash of stress chemicals, which stayed with me for quite a while afterward. I was pretty pumped. So much so that I didn't require my standard first morning coffee at the normal time. So, you probably saved me some money there. In addition, you gave me material for a blog post, including inspiration for the One Speed: Go! "Sad Little Monkey Aggressive Driver Award."

Pickup driver who roared up behind me while I was riding my bicycle legally, safely, and predictably this morning, straddle-passed me too closely, and drove away erratically and aggressively, I wish you luck in your future endeavors, and present you with the first "Sad Little Monkey Aggressive Driver Award!" Congratulations! I find that breathing exercises, as well as long bike rides, can be extremely effective in assisting with emotional control. A skill which, if you picked up, would benefit not only you, but the rest of us sharing the road with you out there. But, as I mentioned, I feel that I came away from our encounter ahead of the game, so your first 12er of Natty Lite is on me tonight. Just please don't drive after you consume it. Much as you might feel like it. There's also a law against that. Drink to your latest award, and call it a night.

Tomorrow's a new day. Hug your sad little monkey award, big pickup driving man. My suggestion would be, as always. Get up. Go ride.

*for example, ARS 28-723 "Overtaking a vehicle on the left" would be a great place to start your review      


  1. So, was it a red pickup with an "OU" sticker in the back window?

  2. Nice take on the upside for the cyclist... such encounters do indeed leave one rather energized. I always feel sad, however, that cyclists read cycling blogs, rather than big pickup truck driving men.

  3. That picutre is classic.
    Something else to add to my cycling lexicon.

  4. Steve, not red, no university affiliations visible. m e l i, yes, my kids wanted to rescue the wet, salty monkey washed up on the rocks, but he was fragile flotsam not even fit for rescue. RANTWICK another problem is that this blog will only make you madder if you drink a 12er of Natty Lite before reading it. limom can you add a photo to a lexicon?? You blew my mind again. My sad monkey photo: a fresh lexeme.

  5. Oh you!
    SLM, I meant.
    Though I suppose an image could be part of a visual lexicon.
    Bad driver=SLM.
    Yes, that's what I'll visualize from now on.


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