When a Driver is Being Nice, Thank Them

Traffic can be intense. There are plenty of things happening on our streets that are dangerous, rude and frustrating. Mostly it is a few bad apples but even the best of us have a bad moment every once and a while.

Cyclists can be quite self righteous at times. I’m certainly guilt as charged. We all know of the challenges created by automobile overuse and are often not shy to remind others. If a person in a car breaks a rule that places me at risk, I certainly will let them know. I have a loud voice and can use it to a good effect.

For some unknown reason, however, what really seems to piss off quite a few two-wheelers is drivers who stop for them when they are not required to.

Hard to say why they are stopping. Maybe they think the same rules apply to pedestrians apply to cyclists. If they took their test years ago, they may not have had any questions on cyclists. Maybe they didn’t think you were going to stop. Bicycles can stop quickly. It is often hard to tell the difference between a cyclist who is going to stop and one who is not. Maybe it is a busy road that is really hard to cross. I’ve been glad a few times when drivers have stopped for me on such a road. Also, don’t forget that the driver is a metre or two behind the front of the car. They may not be sure that they arrived first at a four-way stop.

Whatever the reason, cautious behaviour is typically safer. If anyone is not sure that someone in a car or on a bike is going to stop, it is best to slowdown or stop. A stopped car is much safer than a moving one. Other drivers should always be prepared for the vehicle in front of them to stop anyway by following at a safe distance and speed.

Now there is the problem of one drivers stopping and drivers in other lanes not stopping. In this case, it is your responsibility if you are cycling or walking to make sure that vehicles have stopped before you pass in front of them. Don’t blame the cautious driver for the reckless actions of others.

With all the bad road behaviour that has been proven to cost lives, injury people and damage property, why waste any time worrying about someone being nice even if they are not following the rules exactly. Unless you can prove that this a big problem or even a minor risk to anyone, there is no point in doing anything about it. It would only take resources away from the enforcement of laws that matter or educating drivers and cyclists on other, more important issues.

This would be roughly my prioritization of things that drivers do to get pissed off at:

  1. Running red lights
  2. NOT stopping at stop signings
  3. NOT yielding as required
  4. Drinking then driving
  5. Drinking while driving
  6. Throwing the empties at cyclists
  7. Having sex while driving
  8. Having unprotected sex while driving
  9. Watching others have sex while driving
  10. Texting while driving
  11. Sexting while driving
  12. Talking on the phone while driving
  13. Speeding
  14. Racing
  15. Shaving (face)
  16. Shaving (legs)
  17. Opening the door without looking
  18. Parking in bike lanes
  19. Driving in bike lanes
  20. Driving into bike stores
  21. Passing to close
  22. Eating a messy burger
  23. Making a messy burger
  24. Flossing while driving

….

10,001. Stopping for a cyclist when the driver has the right-of-way

The bottom line is that getting angry at people that are just being nice makes cyclists look like jerks. It is rather sad that we live traffic-filled lives where courtesy is treated like a crime.

My advice. Nod thanks or wave nicely at them, make sure the coast is clear and be on your way. Be happy that there is at least one cautious, courteous person that has crossed your path today.

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6 thoughts on “When a Driver is Being Nice, Thank Them

  1. Good points. I usually wave thanks, but there have been rare occasions when I have been irritated that drivers don’t behave in predictable ways. Pointless to invest energy in resenting kind behavior though. Especially when, on those rare occasions that I drive my partner’s car, I go out of my way to be generous to cyclists.

    As for your list, obviously somewhat tongue in cheek, though I have seen some of those things on the road. I even once saw a woman on Hornby (pre-bike lane) flossing her teeth while steering with both elbows.

    E.

    • Thanks.

      Yikes! Dental health is important. Maybe we need more safe driving and fewer floss everyday ads. I’ll add it to the list.

      Lets hope we don’t need “Don’t use while operating a motor vehicle” on floss packaging.

  2. I know there are some drivers who like to stop in the middle of streets to let jaywalkers or cyclists cut through. I really hate being put in situations like that. I feel a sudden obligation to enter the intersection (or cross the road) even though it’s my preference to not get in front of vehicles when I can avoid it. I’ve had a few cases where cars that I thought were stopped or were letting me through lurched forward, and when crossing streets a stopped car creates a big blind spot which can hide fast-moving cars. So I feel like I’m being pressured to place myself in danger which I really resent.

    I admit I don’t like it when drivers treat me like I shouldn’t be on the road at all, but I do wish that I wouldn’t be treated like an invalid 🙂

    Say Richard – if you’re going to keep this blog (I hope you do), to make it easier for people to follow you, you should consider showing the RSS feed URL (often with a nice RSS icon). Your url is: https://richardcampbell.org/feed/

    • The point of my post was only that there is no point in getting angry at drivers when the do stop when they don’t have to.

      Of course anyone when they cross a road should make sure they can cross it safely.

      When drivers stop and I don’t feel it is safe to cross, I just wave them on.

      I added the RSS feed. Thanks for the tip.

      • You’re right. I hope I’m generally gracious and not the kind of person that inspired the post (though it’s a good reminder).

        The polite drivers often don’t move after I wave them on so I plant my feet on the pavement and look down at the ground. It works a lot better than having a no-really-after-you-I-insist-athon 🙂

  3. I cycle every day with my kids, 7 and 10 years old, and teaching them how to cycle safely in traffic is a major part of our rides. Every day we experience drivers who stop unnecessarily for us, and it makes for some confusion. However, it does reinforce the primary rule, which is that you can never be sure what a driver will do.

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