If you ride a bicycle on the road, people yelling at you becomes pretty common place. Ironically, people usually get mad at you for riding in a way that is not only recommended by bicycle safety groups, but is required by law…Irony aside, I will save the Vehicular Cycling debate for another time. One thing that I have started to notice is that there is a great deal of variety in the things that people yell out their car windows as they pass me by.
The most common group of window yellers are the “Get Off the Road!” or “Get on the Sidewalk!” drivers. It seems to me that the drivers who yell this usually do so as they speed past me. My favorite incedents follow this 4 step pattern:
Driver Speeds Off
Driver gets stopped at a red light about 100 feet down the road.
Elliot Catches up with Driver at the light and stares through their window while they sheepishly pretend to make a phone call or search for something in their center console.
Sadly the drivers rarely get caught at traffic lights, more often than not they simply speed off never to be seen again. But the fact that the driver of the multi-thousand pound vehicle is usually the one who speeds away to avoid getting caught by the bicycle makes me smile.
The Second most common group of yellers I encounter, I call the Unintelligibles. These folks actually become far more common in the colder months of the year, when most drivers won’t bother to roll down a window to yell at me. Instead they yell and flail their arms trying to communicate some level of disgust at me being in the road. But with the windows rolled up at best I hear some kind of muffled gibberish, which when partnered with the twisted yelling face of the driver and the flailing hand motions usually is quite comical. The ridiculousness of the driver usually makes me laugh out loud. When the already angry driver sees me laughing at them they usually just get angrier, and honk the horn in a last ditch attempt to teach me a lesson. I usually respond by smiling and waving.
A third group of yellers I call the Sound Effect Group. This group usually, but not always, consists of high school or college age kids who for whatever reason think it is really funny to yell random noises as they drive by. Sometimes they just scream in what I assume is an attempt to scare me. But oddly the most common thing is barking. I have honestly been barked at by people at least 3 times. I can’t quite describe the feeling of seeing some young man sticking his head out a car window barking at me as he drives by…Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.