Coping with irresponible drivers

Hi everyone,

As probably most of us, every now and then while riding outdoors I have to withstand an irresponsible driver overtaking without leaving much space between the vehicle and cyclist (me or the group). I prefer to think that this is mostly done out of ignorance with respect to the potential danger the mass difference between the two objects represents…nevertheless I always get mad at the driver and follow that with frustration. Usually I come around this quickly and just enjoy my outdoor rides, yet this last event was just too close a call and has got me hooked up on the dangers of riding a bike on the road. So I’m just creating this topic to know how you deal with these events and keep on enjoying the wonders of cycling.


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On the bike that’s the best thing you can do. No driver is receptive to criticism when behind the wheel.

Things I do do:

  • I report these incidents when recorded on my car’s dashcam in the hope that the police speaks to the driver.
  • I give cyclist an extra wide berth when overtaking by car - just to give an example to other drivers behind me.
  • I support campaigns for road safety causes. (Separate cycle lanes etc)

I avoid the website as the populist “near miss” and “close pass” topics are just emotional rants and click bait. It just makes you frustrated and won’t help a single bit.


I often ride with a GoPro slung beneath my saddle facing backwards. It is a visible deterrent to some drivers and a record of others, so I can submit footage if I think a driver is really dangerous enough to be worth reporting.

I also cycle with bone conduction headphones or nothing at all, so you’re rarely surprised by a car’s approach, but I’m always contemplating getting a Garmin Varia just for that extra warning on my head unit anyway.

Beyond that, well, I have dismal views of most of society anyway ( :wink: ) so I just chalk them up as yet another “average human” and carry on my merry way.


I have a Garmin Varia and it’s really good. Not just from the point of alerting you, but it flashes more frequent as cars approach, and could look a little like it’s recording them. I’ve noticed I generally get more space from drivers since having it.


Exactly this. The Varia has been a game changer for me.


My approach is a Varia on the rear, and a Cycliq on the front. I tried the Cycliq on the rear too but it wasn’t very good.

@Reynaldo_Lopez I deal with it by mountain biking. I feel safer in the trees than on the road.


It seems the Varia is a game changer. Took a look online at the cycliq cam as well, thanks for the references.

@JSampson indeed I am one step closer to buying a XC MTB and transition to the trails for peace of mind.

But there again, the social aspect of cycling is a big plus and around this area (Toulouse, France) people ride more road bikes. It’s kind of sad that I have come to consider changing just because of some (insert the adjective of your preference) people.

I just wish the police would take more seriously close incidents involving motorized vehicles and cyclists until our societies come to accept to share the roads.

In the meantime, stay safe everyone.


Occasionally when I’m out I ride a bit more in the primary on faster roads & when cars are in the process of overtaking me I move in creating more space for myself. It’s a work round. Sadly some drivers out there think if they overtake you at high speed the pass is over so quick they seem to think it acceptable.

It’s not the cure, but want to add another vote for the Varia, on my first ride with it on my bike I had to stop at the side of the road to work out why people were giving me more room, wasn’t aware that it changed it’s flashing rate all on it’s own, really does seem to make drivers more aware (it’s fine if they think they are being filmed)


In most places in the US, the cyclist has the same legal right to the road as the motorist. If there is not enough room in the road for both, I take the full lane. Also, when going around sharp corners, I move to the center, or the left of the lane to maximize the visibility of the driver before returning to the right side of the lane.

On the other side, cyclists are notorious for not keeping to the rules of the road (stop signs, red lights, etc.). Be predictable to drivers - do not make sudden moves, or weave in and out of parked cars.


That’s a good point you raise there

On the other side, cyclists are notorious for not keeping to the rules of the road

While fellow riders do this, it just adds wood to the fire. I have been guilty of this myself, specially going for segments… An area of improvement to set an example.

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I remember one time I was descending down the side of a mountain on a public road. Two cyclists just stopped in the middle of the road. I could not go around them to the left because there was a truck coming in the oncoming lane. It required some bicycle handling to avoid colliding with them.


100% This, I am not dying because some millennial needed to check their 'gram. Plus, MTB is in the woods and you can jump shit. :slight_smile:

I suffer so I can charge harder in the woods, not sure I would ever consider riding on a road with cars given how little it would take for it to be over (or worse, get mangled and survive).

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Friend of mine moved to Hawaii, was riding his road bike to work one day. He was flying downhill and a car pulled out of an intersection in front of him (blocking the bike path), so all he could do was lock it up to avoid hitting the car. He endo’d and broke both arms, the driver didn’t even stop to see if he was ok. He got much closer to his GF over the next 4 months with both arms in full casts. Poor guy is also a world class drummer and tends bar for a living, he has fully recovered but this is another reason I prefer the woods.


You get plenty of this, though, everywhere. It’s ignorance.

I have had relatively few accidents on my bike, thankfully, but those I have had have typically been just poor decision making from drivers.

  • I had one incident where I was cycling in a wide cycle lane in a city, in the autumn. The cycle lane passed in front of a row of houses, all of which had walled entrances so you couldn’t see in, the cycle lane was continuous however and had priority. A car pulled out of one of the drive-ways, rapidly, and stopped across the whole cycle path waiting to pull into the road, the path was covered in wet leaves and there was no way I was stopping in time, just slid into the side of the car. Thankfully I was completely fine, as was my bike and the driver was very apologetic. God knows what would have happened if I’d have been a couple of meters further advanced when they pulled out though as they’d have hit me rather than the other way around.

  • One incident where I was on a roundabout, going around the roundabout. A car pulled out of one of the slips directly in front of me (really, really directly in front). I hit their front wing and went over the bonnet. Once again, luckily not even a faint buckle in the wheel, me and bike okay. This was the worst incident of the lot, because the driver got out of the car and started to shout at me. They honestly thought that cars had right-of-way over bikes no matter the situation. She thought I was obliged to stop on the roundabout to let her pull out and wouldn’t have it any other way until other drivers started to join in and set her straight.

  • One, recently, where I was again on a roundabout, at the bottom of an incline and travelling probably faster than most motor vehicles would try to take that roundabout. A car pulled up to the entrance of the roundabout, looked, saw me and stopped… Then seemed to reconsider upon realising I was on a push-bike, despite the fact a motorbike wouldn’t have been going faster at this point, so pulled out… I managed to sit the bike up and scrape my shoulder against their bumper just behind them!

Each time has always been just ignorance. Not malicious, just ignorant.


I have had a few close calls and learned from them. Cycling in Chicago, I see misbehaving by everybody, myself included:

  1. Stop signs treated as yield by everyone.
  2. Driving too fast, or cycling too fast
  3. Pedestrians unaware of their surroundings
  4. Failure to signal

How I deal with it is through several means:

  1. I always ride with flashing lights
  2. Varia on the back
  3. Buffer zones, I try to always have an escape route. I take the lane on narrow roads
  4. Slowing when there is heavy traffic.
  5. I never ride camp out in a vehicle’s blind spots especially through intersections.
  6. I take extra caution on bike lanes that cross driveways and intersections. Cars often can’t see anything coming in the bike lane due to obstructions like parked cars, trees and forward vehicle blind spots.
  7. I never ride with headphones
  8. I never confront a driver. In Chicago I might even get shot.
  9. I try to avoid cycling at sunrise or sunset
  10. I use dedicated bike paths and/or bike lanes wherever possible, since drivers are used to seeing bikes and tend to be more attentive on those roads.

@Jon In Milan Kundera’s novel Slowness there is a scene where a driver passes a cyclist on a hill and the author makes the distinction between the tremendous effort level of the cyclist versus the small tap of the accelerator pedal by the driver. I think about that during the infrequent times that I ride on the road. Many of today’s cars are over-powered. They are so sound insulated and conditioned that they remove the occupants from the sensory experiences of the environment around them. Adding in the distractions and stresses of modern life - wireless calling, podcasts, music - seems to have brought us to the unfortunate current situation.


Absolutely, and that particular example is highlighted beautifully when a car driver pulls a manoeuvre that forces a cyclist to lose their momentum in order to yield to the car.
That singular moment has increased the effort level required for the cyclist monumentally, while having neither significantly benefited the driver nor would yielding themselves have significantly inconvenienced them.
I think a lot of people both become oblivious to this correlation, but that there is also a lot of entitlement in the modern world.


I live a mile from Specialized HQ, so there are a lot of cyclists on the road here. Most do a good job of sharing the road and obeying the rules. Unfortunately, those are not the ones that motorists remember.

Every one of us is an ambassador for the entire cycling community. We need to act accordingly. Yes, sometimes motorists are just going to be A-holes. We can’t fix that. But we can control the impression WE leave to the motorists and the community.

Two things I remember from the past.

One day we were meeting up for a group ride and a new cyclists stopped and asked if he could join us. He had earphones on. He was told he was welcome but no earphones. He didn’t want to remove them, so he was told he couldn’t ride with us. We take communication very seriously, for safety reasons. We obey all traffic laws, for safety reasons. It’s nice that we leave a positive impression on the community. It’s FAR more important that we all get home safely.

Second, just a few days after CA passed the three foot rule to pass a cyclist, I was riding a lightly travelled rural road. A car passed me with both the visibility and room to give me a wide berth. Instead he opted to gun it and pass way to close. I’m guessing he was too self absorbed to realize there was a cop within line of sight. The cop lit him up and waved to me when I rode by. I would like to think the cycling community here in town earned that respect from the police department.

All we can control is what we do. Every time we do it right, we benefit.