Kill Them with Kindness : A Challenge to All Cyclists

The state of cycling when it comes forging a harmonious bond between motorists and cyclists is certainly a volatile subject. No one wants to blink in this dance. I wrote about my last encounter with a motorist in my “Why is There so Much Hate Towards Me, a Cyclist?” and recently had another incident. This time it’s about dogs chasing cyclists, dealing with their owners, putting things into perspective, and why a subtle blink on our end is the way to go.

The Incident

I was riding my bike down the road and saw three dogs sprinting from the back of their yard. At this time too, the owner of the house was leaving his driveway via his car. As his dogs ran into the road, I yelled to scare the dogs to make them hesitate just enough so I could pass.

When I passed the owner in the car, he shouted, “Get the *#&$ off the road!”. Once again, like the previous incident, I turned around and wanted to address the supposed issue. This time though, I was not going to let any sort of anger seep into my body language and more importantly, my language and tone. I defaulted to my “Do we have a problem, Sir?” statement. He said go ride on the bike path (there are no bike paths for five miles), you’re not allowed to ride here and that it’s for cars. He pays taxes to ride on the roads. I informed that I pay road taxes too. I had every right to be there (What is with motorists thinking we don’t own cars and pay taxes too?!). He then spouted off about me clamoring at his dogs. His dogs were attacking me. I let the guy know I was only protecting myself and that there were leash laws. He couldn’t comprehend that if his dogs do not remain in his yard, then they needed to be on a leash. Here is where I began to kill him with kindness.

Instead of bragging saying that my bike costs more than his car and would sue him if I got hurt, that wouldn’t have helped the situation or our image as cyclists. As cyclists, let’s leave the showboating about our gear to each other. It is lost on everyone else. As a result, I put it all on him.

I tried to get this message across:

One of the reasons I shouted at your dogs was to keep them on the side of the road. What if a car was behind me and they got hit? I would hate to see them get hit. I’m sure you care very much about your dogs. I don’t want to see them get hurt. There are leash laws in place to keep your dogs, you, cyclists, and cars safe. I just want to keep your dogs safe.

I barely said anything about me. I wasn’t important there.

He really did not expect what I was saying. He ended the conversation with “Just get out of here.” — So I was on my merry way and that was it. He probably won’t change anything, but at least I planted a seed about protecting his dogs.

Cyclists and Egos

Boy, oh boy, do egos run rampant in these communities. We’re all guilty of it at one time or the other — some more than others. Here’s the thing — We need to get over ourselves. We have to use better judgement. I would love to spout off on some misinformed individual, but it ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. It actually makes matters worse. Sure, we can boast to our friends how we “put them in their place”, but at what cost? We have now made ourselves look bad. That person now hates ALL cyclists. That person thinks were a bunch of snobs who wear spandex and spend way too much money on bicycles. More importantly, who knows what they could do to a fellow cyclist down the road??

The first half of this Bike Snob NYC post sums it up rather bluntly. It may sting, but it’s ultimately true..

Cycling is really no different, and as much as we like to think it’s some rarefied pursuit that transcends everyday life that’s really not the case–even when it comes to competitive cycling, which, for all the power meters and coaches and electronic equipment and “weird style diktats,” really just comes down to this: Go that way, really fast.


My challenge to you:

Next time a motorist is in the wrong and thinks they’re right, kill them with kindness. Take the higher road. Avoid swearing or raising your voice. Don’t make the situation about you. Put everything on them. They’ll be caught off guard and won’t know what to do. Then, post your story in the comments!

How have you dealt with issues like these?
What is it going to take to take the high road?