Angry Drivers on My Commute (SMH)

robin hood with voted sticker

Biking nearly every day makes me a better driver: I notice everything. I pay closer attention to what other drivers are doing, and I anticipate their next moves. I also try not to judge cyclists or pedestrians — though I reserve the right to curse at people riding bikes at night without lights (or sometimes even reflectors!)

I bike for transportation mostly in Waltham, but occasionally in neighboring towns (Lexington, Newton, Belmont, Arlington, Cambridge, and Boston). The level of hostility toward people on bikes in Waltham has surprised me. People seem really ignorant of traffic laws and how to behave when bikes are sharing the road. I've also seen drivers run red lights on more than one occasion, and I've noticed a lot of people looking down at their phone while glancing up every few seconds — not really seeing the road. When they notice a person on a bike, are they suddenly jolted out of their reverie? Does that feeling of surprise make them angry? I felt like I was being screamed at or honked at a lot, so I decided to actually start keeping track.

Over the past year, I've kept a log, and the total count of times people yelled/honked (as in, I definitely felt like they were honking to send a message, not like a little honk-tap to let me know they're there). The total comes to 10 times.

2017 log of what I've experienced while bicycling for transportation

Date/TimeLocation What HappenedWhat They Said
Jan. 30, 2017, 7 PMHammond St. and Main St., Waltham, MAAt the red light, after dark, I took the lane to make the left turn, and a woman in a white pickup truck shouted at me as she tore around me to make a right."Get a fucking car, you idiot!"
Feb. 8, 2017, 8 PMBacon St. and Plympton St., Waltham, MAAs a black sedan passed me, a woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window and shouted at me. I couldn't quite make out the beginning of what she said."…off the road!"
April 25, 2017, 5:45 PMHammond St. and Columbia, Waltham, MAAt the light, I was turning left onto Hammond. I waited for a line of cars to go straight as they had the right of way. I was in the middle of the lane, and a car waited behind me. As I turned, the car behind me honked long and loud.HOOOOOOONK!
June 26, 2017, 2 PMLexington St, Waltham, MA (near Wal-Lex shopping center)I was riding to the right of cars on the newly paved Lexington St., which had not yet been marked with lane markings, when a white SUV with multiple bumper stickers (all saying "SUPREME") revved their engine and shouted at me while passing aggressively."Fuck you!"
July 19, 2017, 7 PMBacon St. and Plympton St., Waltham, MAI was making a left turn onto Plympton and I noticed a car making a right onto Bacon, and I signaled left. The man in the car yelled out his window as we both made our turns. (There was no danger of collision.)"Jesus, lady..."
July 26, 2017, 3:30 PMBacon St. and Dale St., Waltham, MAI was stopped at a red light at Bacon, going west on Dale St., with my 7-year-old son on the back of the Boda Boda and my 11-year-old son on his own bike in front of me, when a woman in a white sedan yelled something we couldn't quite hear at my son. Something about bikes and the sidewalk
July 28, 2017, 8:45 AMRt. 117, near Market Basket, Waltham, MAI was going west on Rt. 117 when a fellow on a bike going in the opposite direction yelled at me."Get a helmet!"
Sept. 8, 2017, 5:30 PMRt. 117, at Stow St., Waltham, MAI was riding east on Main St. (Rt. 117) stopped at the Stow St. light, between the lane to go straight and the right-turn-only lane. There was a right-turn-only green light (arrow). A man in a black pickup truck yelled at me as he turned right. "Get the fuck off the road!"
Nov. 13, 2017, 5:45 PMRt. 117, at Stow St., Waltham, MAIt was raining and dark. Again, I was riding east on Main St. (Rt. 117) stopped at the Stow St. light, between the lane to go straight and the right-turn-only lane. There was a right-turn-only green light (arrow). A man in a black sedan rolled down his window and shouted at me. I replied, "You saw me, great!""You should get a blinking light! And a helmet!"
Dec. 6, 2017, 5:30 PMLexington St. at Rt 117, Waltham MAI was riding home from work, about to make a left onto Rt. 117. It was a clear night, cold and dark. A woman rolled down her window and surprised me by yelling out a complement. (I was wearing my red trench coat and a knit hat with ear flaps.)"I love your outfit!"

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