This is the 6th and last blog in a series of blogs concerning annoying and dangerous motorist behaviors. The last behavior that will be discussed is pure harassment. Obviously this is an intentional act by a motorist and depending on the exact type of harassment, it not only can be dangerous and annoying, it also can be against the law.
Harassment may take many forms ranging to yelling at cyclists (typically to "get off the road" or to "ride on the sidewalk or bike path”) to swerving at cyclists, to throwing objects at cyclists, to actually striking cyclists with vehicles. Although no one knows the reason for these types of behaviors, one can surmise that the motorist often is angry at the cyclist for having to share the road (and thus slow down) or that the motorist simply is having a bad day and needs to take it out on someone, or that the motorist thinks its funny to intimidate and harass from the protection of a vehicle. Whatever the cause, such conduct often ends up hurting the cyclist, and in the worst cases, can lead to tragic results, including death or injury to the cyclist and prison for the motorist.
Evens something as seemingly (relatively) harmless as throwing a small object at a cyclist or yelling at a cyclist can have tragic results if the cyclist, perhaps startled by a yell, crashes. Further, throwing an object out of a car traveling at a high rate of speed, which strikes a cyclist also traveling fast easily can cause the cyclist to lose control and crash. There was a case many, many years ago, actually involving a runner as opposed to a cyclist, in which a passing motorist (a high school student) thought it would be funny to intimidate a runner by waving a baseball bat out the window. Unfortunately, the bat struck the runner causing serious injuries and the motorist ending up spending some time in jail for assault and battery.
There really is no way for a cyclist to avoid this type of harassment. Certainly, one can hope that if this happens and a person is apprehended that law enforcement will treat the crime with the seriousness it deserves. My next series of blogs will be on dangerous and annoying cyclist behaviors.