Anger and aggression are leading factors in many bicycle-related accidents involving motor vehicles. Why any motorist becomes so angry that a bike rider is sharing the roadway is often difficult to pinpoint. However, blaming the cyclist as being stupid or inconsiderate is more than just annoying to the bike rider but can place their life in jeopardy. Studies indicate that angry drivers routinely cause many injuries to bicycle riders using their two-wheel vehicle to commute to work or for fun and exercise.
Because of the prevalence of aggressive driving, many urban locations including the Chicago Metropolitan area can be a dangerous environment for riding a bike. Aggressive driving that involves running red lights, speeding or changing lanes improperly are exacerbated when bicycle riders are involved.
Personality Traits That Lead to Road Rage
In many incidences of road rage, the driver becomes frustrated because they must share the street with two-wheel vehicles. In some cases, that frustration leads to anger in drivers who have a natural propensity to aggression. Often, it is the individual’s personality traits that cause the aggression while behind the wheel. Sometimes, the individual driver has a hostile, anti-social personality or a competitive one. Other traits that tend to lead to anger and road rage include:
- Impulsive behaviors
- Poor problem-solving skills
- Unrealistic thinking by overrating their ability or underestimating the risks of handling problems
- Sensation seeking behaviors
- Lacking any concern for the well-being of others (egocentricity), or
- A lack of caring about anyone but themselves
Scaring the Cyclist off the Road
In many situations, the anger felt by the motorist against a bicyclist sharing the roadway manifests itself in incredibly dangerous scenarios. Enraged motorists can quickly feel justified when scaring a bicyclist by “buzzing” them, cutting them off, honking their horn, throwing something or yelling.
However, the motorist often fails to consider how scaring a cyclist can lead to a serious injury if the vehicle hits them or runs them off the road. Some scenarios involve motorists taking their hatred of cyclists to the extreme by attempting to intentionally kill or injure the bike rider. Other times, the problem involving sharing the roadway with a cyclist is conflated when there are other factors including discrimination involving the race or sexual orientation of the rider. The motorist who believes of the cyclist is “beneath” them tend to have an easier time justifying their vitriolic behavior toward the bike rider or violent action against them.
The Road Rage Phenomenon
Many individuals consider that there is a road rage phenomenon of driversversus bicyclists that may inadvertently cause the cyclist injury. In some situations, drivers become nervous of the unpredictability of a bicycle rider who is sharing the roadway, which can trigger the driver’s underlying emotions that displays itself as road rage.
Another phenomenon is the incomprehension of the bike being a legitimate road vehicle, which allows the driver to remain ignorant of the law. In some scenarios, motorists believe that roads are built for the exclusive use of automobiles and trucks, meaning any other type of transportation on the roadway is unacceptable.
Before You Ride
For the bicyclist, maintaining safety is of the utmost importance every time they take to the road. Before ever leaving for a bicycle ride or commute to work, it is essential to ensure that the cyclist’s cell phone has been fully charged and that they are wearing identification in the event of an accident. In addition, inspecting the bike is crucial to ensure that proper air is in the tires and that all of the accessories and equipment are fully functional.
In the event that the cyclist becomes involved in a vehicle-related accident, medical care should always be considered first. This is because an injury might not be felt or noticeable, especially if the back, head or neck is injured. Should the accident involve a hit-and-run driver, it is important to gather evidence by bystanders and write down or record any eyewitness accounts.
The aggression and dangerous driving habits of angered motorists against bike riders is unacceptable. That said, it is essential that bicyclists remain alert and aware to drive aggressively against those who wish to cause them harm.