I ride alone a lot. Not because I'm anti-social, but because I ride a lot, and my schedule doesn't always mesh with those of my cycling buddies, unfortunately. I actually enjoy the solitude and time inside my own head, but occasionally I have to remind myself not to be afraid. Of the hungry and addicted men who smell like urine and hide up on the concrete shelves under highway bridges. Of crashing out in the middle of nowhere and having to wait for someone to find me. Of the men who shout out their windows about wanting to fuck me. Or who shout about wanting to hurt me. Of being hit.
Fortunately, for me at least, aggressive drivers are relatively rare. I do get buzzed or angrily honked at once a month or so. I get shouted at about once every couple of weeks. I've had two truly scary conflicts with drivers this year. I wrote about the first one back in February. Here's the email I sent to the Parker, Co Police department describing the second one that took place September 18:
I was cycling westbound on East Hilltop Rd. between Canterberry Parkway and N Sunburst Trail yesterday around 11:10 AM. The passenger of an older, maroon pickup the size of an F150, but it might have been a Chevy, threw a water bottle at me. I think I saw the truck exiting the high school parking lot when I went past, but I'm not positive. It was a full or mostly full Arrowhead plastic bottle. He missed, but the hazard he created and the bottle in the road in front of me could easily have caused a terrible accident.
I ride East Hilltop Rd from Canterberry to Hess/Jordan Rd to complete a long training loop from just north of Cherry Creek Sate Park, and I've done this route four or five times now. The section from Canterberry to Parker Rd consistently feels dangerous, and I don't understand why that is. The road is nice and wide and there's even a passing lane. I've had a couple of close calls with drivers passing very close or racing around me to turn right immediately in front of me and such. I'm wondering if increased policing would help in that area.
I'm also wondering if you can recommend an alternative, safer road route for me to get from the intersection of Tomohawk and Main Street over to Hess and Jordan. It would be fine if that alternative added a little distance to my loop.
More broadly, I write about cycling online, and I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about what the cyclists who follow the rules and try to ride responsibly can do to alleviate the tension between drivers and cyclists.
Thanks so much for your time!
An officer did respond that they would increase policing in that area and that she would pass along my other questions to an officer who is an avid cyclist. I haven't heard back from him yet, probably because there are no easy answers.
One thing that might help is increased awareness about problem drivers.
Close Call Database for Cycling is safety advocacy effort designed to help cyclists alert each other to chronic aggressive drivers. Not only will this information help cyclists keep an eye out for regular problem drivers, but it will also provide a history for police to prosecute dangerous drivers. It's such a great idea. There are already registrants from 33 different countries, which speaks to the scope of this problem. The guy whose great idea this was is trying to collaborate with local law enforcement to foster better relations between drivers and cyclists where he lives.
Go. Go now and register. We'll all be safer for it.