I found this comic today, and well, I think there is some truth to it.
But why? And are cyclists somewhere in the middle? Any traffic psychologists out there?
Personally I think a similar behavior has got to do with speed. More precisely, with the fact that we are made believe that cars are fast (if not perfect, in every possible situation). And when they are not, we freak out.
That reminds me on the old Disney movie "Motor Mania" from the 1950s ... very funny :)
I have found that the vast majority of Cyclists are very forgiving of each other as well. I have never actually been bad Mouthed by another Cyclist for Cutting them off. I never cut off someone on purpose it is just Accidental,they seem to understand this and get the same reaction as the Pedestrians in your Cartoon.
The Motorists on the other Hand is another Kettle of Fish though. Even though they are in the Wrong they think they are in the right and have a God Given Right to cut you off and get very upset if you remind them of this.
There is something that happens to the Mind of the Normal Rational Person the moment they get behind the Steering Wheel of a Car. It is like they have a Brain Transplant they become very Crotchety and Temperamental. They feel they and only they have a right to use the Road and no one else.
There is that Famous Cartoon of Years ago of the 1960ties The Walt Disney Film featuring the Dog Droopy as the Car Driver Mr Wheeler and he Displays all the Characteristics of Road Rage and bad Manners once he gets into that Car. All other times he is a Normal well Mannered Person but loses all control once Driving his Car. The Cartoon shows the other Drivers as Droopy with the same Road Rage Attitude Roaring at other Drivers to get off the Road and Mouthing Obscenities in the Form of X's and * Squiggles and Fighting with each other.
I think it has to do with a few different factors; pedestrians do not have any sort of "barrier" between them and the other person, so one is more likely to avoid confrontation when one is bare and exposed to another person.
In a car, one is essentially in a giant motorized suit of armor, and people have this (unreasonable) feeling of invincibility; so as a result, the feel emboldened.
Cyclists have increased mobility (similar to a car) are bare (like a pedestrian) but still out in the road, against these motorized chariots...
...not surprising that we fall "somewhere in the middle"; yet run the gamut from one extreme to the other
I think it's also a cultural thing: drivers are used to being pandered to, given right of way and having the state do anything and everything to allow them to drive as they do when they do. When something happens that 'deprives' them of the 'rights' they are accustomed to, they take it personally: you aren't just slowing them down, you are being offensive and depriving them of their rights: not because they are stupid, but because we're conditioned into thinking a certain way.
Mr. Walker/Wheeler (from Motor Mania) has always been a source of amusement for me since childhood. Now, of course, it has a more real world affect on me as an adult.
I actually had an experience with another cyclist about a week ago while riding through my city. He was trying to pass me on a side street through town, and I was so "into" my thoughts at the moment, that I didn't even hear him say he was passing. He got beside me and just rode until I realized someone was next to me. He just smiled, I apologized, and he then laughed. Why can't driving situations be this cordial? I was riding to the right of the road, not really doing anything wrong, but I should've been more aware and this could've easily turned ugly. Instead, it was a pleasant interaction, and later in the day, when we passed each other again, we both just smiled and waived.
Cars seem to bring out the worst in many of us, sadly.
@ plepe: Thanks for the movie, I vaguely remembered it, but could not track it down.
@ l'homme au velo: I find it strange though, that most of the time it's the same people who act completely different.
@ Astroluc: Certainly, the metal barrier is missing. Cyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable, yet people are more relaxed when on foot or on a bike. Somehow paradox.
@ Andy: Indeed true. Too many types of law-breaking are unfortunately also seen as trivial offenses (parking on bike lanes, ignoring crosswalks, speed limits etc.).
@ G.E.: Nice experience. Actually, I once observed an accident between two cyclists. The first thing that both cyclists checked was whether the other one was ok. No shouting, no hit-and-run.
@Astroluc/@Anna: I think the missing barrier make the emotions of the other person(s) more visible. The tinted windows of cars makes the other's emotions hard to see and feel. It's hard to communicate as car driver, you only have the sound of the horn and the sound and movements of the car itself. If you want to make yourself heard you have to shout out of the window.
Might be the reason why more expensive cars have even darker windows and the people get even more unfriendly ...
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