Dealing with Anti Social Motorists by being courteous. A Road Safety Success Story

I learned this from how the police deal with conflict.

This is what I experienced last weekend in Kent.

I was walking in Kent and delivering magazines to local people in the rain and this white transit van whizzed past at sixty miles an hour  and completely soaked my coat and face.I was wearing this coat for the first time that day, it was a birthday present from my elderly mother.  Obviously I was annoyed as  thought that  it was done on purpose, but sometimes you can’t jump to conclusions.

Luckily I got details of the van.  The logo was all over it. I rang up the organisation. I explained what happened without screeching at the company  boss but made sure I spoke in a calm and reasonable, conversational tone.

The employer was shocked, and completely understood where I was coming from. He apologised profusely and offered to pay for the dry cleaning. We had a nice chat and I thanked him and he said drop him an email about   it and he will draft a ‘proper’ apology  That was really nice. He was also pleased I didn’t put it up all locally over social media which could affect his small family business, so I earned an extra  ‘respect’ brownie point.

Ten minutes later the driver rang and he also apologised and offered to pay for the dry cleaning too. He said he didn’t see me. I said I wearing a bright jacket. Oh, he said, I must have been chatting.He was really embarrassed, he is a family man in his 40s and his 20s were well over and he wouldn’t want to do stupid things like that.

All of us were happy. I was happy that they a) aware b) it is very unlikely they will do this again, which the main thing. I acknowledged that it must have been a mistake,all of us make them too, even as pedestrians and cyclists. I should have avoided being near the puddle and he should have paid more attention.  I said they sounded like  a really professional organisation, that takes ownership, is honest and will do their best to take action.  They were so good I didn’t bother with the dry cleaning bill, the coat was fine as it was waterproof, and the rain kept off. My face may have been a different though! What you really want is PREVENTION.

I have also used the Softly Softy technique with motorists who drive with mobile phones.  It is trying, of course, I have to bite my teeth. However in many cases, they see reason, and put it away. Shouting at them will not have the desired effect you want and as you have lost control, you  have lost respect. Many motorists are reasonable, but are sneaky opportunists. Treat them as a ‘mischievous kid’, they seem to like that, and have a little joke, say ‘we know driving is boring,   get a bike’ and point in a ‘friendly manner to the phone’. You can use some other technique, but not the aggressive one. You want them to realise what they are doing is wrong, but respect  you too. Respect them too, I know it is hard.

Additionally when I am cyclist I try to create harmony and try to be courteous. You have to remember if you are courteous, generally the motorist will support you. Several times I ensure I say thank you, or get off on narrow roads, and generally they behave better and frequently you can get a really wide berth as they have take you, really generous ones too. Of course,  you thank them. They probably haven’t been thanked all day by anyone on the road. Of course, sometimes you can thank some motorists, and they ignore you, but you can’t win them all, but you work on the ones you can. With the unreasonable ones, at least you have their Reg No and you can deal with them when they are out of the way. In a small way, you can make things safe where you live but you need other pedestrians or cyclists to do the same, or it undermines all your hardwork.A little bit of ‘motorist whispering’ goes a long way.

So create a Positive Memory for the  motorist, and one that will stop him or her, being dangerous in the future.  They will tell their friends, colleagues that they met this amazing pedestrian or cyclist.  That may be going too far, but that would be a nice challenge. It may not work in all cases, but it certainly has made my cycle  ride safer and more enjoyable. I certainly enjoying counting all the thumbs up I get,  rather than getting all these ‘V’ signs that some cyclists on Youtube seem to get. Sometimes the motorist comes out of his car … to shake hands.

So remember R=Respect C=Courtesy RC=Arsey