I saw this article on the Washington Post reporting on a incident in Italy where a car ran into a group of cyclists, killing EIGHT and injuring TWO of the cyclists. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/05/AR2010120501494.html The driver of the car was in the oncoming lane, passing a car, when he plowed into the cyclists. Events like this, coupled with my experience cycling 60 miles a day while commuting from West Chester, PA to the University of Pennsylvania and seeing some crazy car drivers, makes me wonder: What are those car drivers thinking?

Here's what I've figured out...

As a cyclist, you are following your passions, putting yourself out there in spandex, doing something different. In short, you are engaging in an activity that challenges the status quo (which is driving cars). And, whenever someone challenges the status quo, they get push back from others.

In general, you get push back for several possible reasons: Maybe your change in game plan rocks the boat, or changes a power dynamic, or conflicts with their worldview.

However, in regards to cycling, I believe this is why you get push back from drivers: Seeing you on your bike simply makes them uncomfortable because they wish they had the courage to truly act on their beliefs.

A driver, seeing you out there on your bike enjoying yourself, gets frustrated with his life situation. Maybe he wants to get to the gym more, lose a few pounds, but hasn't had the drive to get himself away from the TV and into the squat rack. He sees you, and it reminds him of his inadequacies.

Or, maybe, it's nothing related to exercise. Maybe he wants to start his own business, but he's lacked the courage to leave his cubicle-job and act on his passions. He sees you, the cyclist, as an example of people acting with courage and passion - a life he's been too scared to pursue.

It's what Mehdi over at stronglifts.com writes about when he talks about Crabs (not, not those kind of crabs). Whenever you try to do something different, better, there are those people who try to bring you down.

So, he swerves, swears, speeds.

Basically, he compensates. It's the same reason the 45 year-old guy gets himself a porsche, or cheats on his wife. He's got to prove something. Deep down he knows that he's a coward, but he has a chance to be a tough guy behind the wheel.

It all sounds kind of cute and pitiful when I write about it here, but the tragic part is that this mentality kills cyclists. I realize that some drivers out there will counter, arguing that cyclists are jerks and cause accidents, too. However, an Australian study has shown that when drivers and cyclists get in an accident, the driver is to blame in 87% of the incidents. Source.

So, take it easy out there drivers. Instead of trying to compensate for your inadequacies by acting like a big shot behind the wheel of a car... why not actually do something productive? Go to the gym, open that business, ask that girl out. Act with some passion - passion that doesn't result in the death of a cyclist.


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