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Quinn sent in the following question:
“Commuters know about the ‘right hook’ — what about the opposite? By that I mean those drivers who creep behind you for a city block, when if they drove at speed they would clear the intersection before you got there. How do other commuters deal with them?”
This is another manifestation of the “overly courteous” driver. I’m sure many of us have been in similar situations…the driver hanging back instead of passing us, the driver waving us through at a four-way-stop intersection even though it is clearly their turn to proceed, etc.
What this stems from is that many motorists are blissfully unaware of the laws regarding bicycles on the roadway. In most (if not all) states, bicycles are considered vehicles, and have the same rights (and the same responsibilities) as motor vehicles such as cars. Or, if said motorist IS aware of the laws, they are just trying to be nice by being excessively cautious.
While these behaviors are not usually dangerous, they can be quite annoying.
Really, the best way to deal with these situations is with a smile — if you had time to talk with these motorists and to teach them the ins and outs of sharing the road with bicycles, that would be great, but folks rarely have that kind of time. It’s better to just heed that wave-through (giving a thank-you wave of your own) or deal with the creeper. I’ve heard of cyclists stooping over to retrieve a waterbottle, pretending to be so engrossed in getting a drink or looking around that the opposing motorist at that stop sign just gives up and goes through…but that technique has its own share of issues.
In short, be gracious, be thankful and above all, do it with a smile — facing an overly-courteous motorist is a million times better than facing a road rager!!
Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.