Author Topic: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?  (Read 6567 times)

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Offline Awolcycling

Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« on: May 21, 2016, 08:20:35 pm »
My boyfriend and I are starting to plan our Transamerica trip for next summer, 2017. We've been cycling for several years now with various weekend groups in our area.  We're familiar with cycling on streets with cars and trying our best to follow the rules of the road to stay safe.  Over the next year we're going to practice our touring skills/conditioning.  The aspects of touring will be new to us, but we're looking forward to the challenge and the experience of the trip. 

Most of the blogs and experiences we come across in our research are super positive and don't mention this aspect of the trip (the subject of this post).  Maybe it's like having a baby, you just kind of forget the pain afterward.  We're only curious/anxious because a couple years ago I was involved in a hit and run accident.  I was out for a Thursday afternoon ride in an area I'd never rode before.  I had reach out to a local cycle group in an area I was in for work and they suggested the route.  Traffic wasn't bad at all on the road.  Last thing I remember is going up a small hill, my Garmin confirms it showing I was going 10 mph, and next thing I know I come to and there are a couple people over me seeing if I’m ok and telling me the ambulance was on its way.  I have no recollection of what happened.  Without all the dramatic details, I went to the right kind of people for my recovery and within a year I was riding again.  They even helped me get over it mentally but now we know firsthand it happens.  Before this, I felt invincible when I rode, I followed the rules and I was a good cyclist.  That's a feeling I can't get back.   

We'd like to get a heads up on any roads that veteran TransAmerica travelers have experienced drivers were openly aggressive, or roads that made you feel nervous about while riding. I've only come across one blog post from last summer, 2015, where someone threw a bottle at a girl in her young 20s riding with a group going cross country, and on the same road had a motorist pull to the side and verbally assault her until she pulled out her cell phone and said she was calling the police.  She was on her way to Dillion Montana when this happened.  She said others in her group also experienced hostel drivers in this part of the trip.

Stories won't scare us away from our trip.  We just want to be aware of areas we might want to get an extra early start or maybe find an alternate route. Honestly when I heard this Girl's story, I told my boyfriend we'll just take the bus through that part of the trip if we have too.  I don't need that kind of experience so early in the trip.  And missing a 100 miles won't make me feel inadequate about our accomplishment at the end. 

I do want to mention that we do understand there are a lot of other hazardous out there, inclement weather, road conditions, our mental state/distraction, judgement calls, etc. And not all incidents are a drivers fault.   

So after that disclaimer, any feedback would be really amazing. If you didn't have any negative experiences with drivers during your trip, your response is also greatly appreciated. 

Thank you!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2016, 11:15:13 am by Awolcycling »

Offline RonK

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2016, 08:33:16 pm »
I think you just have to take each day as it comes. You could encounter an aggressive driver anywhere, anytime. Worrying about it only generates self-defeating paranoia.
Chances are you won't encounter any.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline John Nelson

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2016, 08:36:01 pm »
I don't think any area is more prone to hostile drivers than others. Dogs and wind, yes, but not mean drivers. About one in a thousand drivers is hostile, but there's no way to predict where they're going to turn up.

I don't think there is any benefit to worrying about risks you can't control. Go into this armed with knowledge, but not with worry.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2016, 10:49:42 pm »
The fact that there's two of you (you and your boyfriend) may help a little bit.  A bad driver would have to take out both of you to make sure there's no witnesses. 

Ride well, enjoy the trip.

Offline jamawani

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2016, 11:11:54 pm »
Awol -

I see that you are new here - and thank you for posting about your own experiences and concerns.
I have been serious cycling -  commuting and touring - since my teens.
Since I am pushing 60, I can easily say I have 100,000 miles - at least 2/3s touring.

I have been hit by a car, sideswiped, has stuff thrown at me, and obscenities yelled.
It is part of who we are as a nation - and especially, to be viewed as "different".
To say that there are no risks would be absurd. But the risks are relatively small and outweighed by the benefits.

I was hit in my college years by a brand new driver - who wedged herself in a phone booth and was hysterical.
I went to the hospital for stitches and observation, but I think it took longer to get her out of the phone booth.
I have had stuff thrown at me - macho guys seem to like to toss soft drinks - ha-ha, so funny.
And I have been known to shout back at people yelling obscenities. (Which is not so smart)

There are ways to reduce the risk.
Fact is, it is more dangerous for a woman solo than a man - that is a reality of 2016 America.
My grad school roommate was in a relationship with a white guy and riding thru Tennessee -
Some rednecks slowed down beside and yelled, "Hey, n----- girl, your white boyfriend is way behind you."

And there are times in the week or holidays where it is best to quit early.
Depending on where you are riding - Fri & Sat late afternoon and evening may not be a good time.
And big drinking holidays - July 4th or Labor Day - can have lots of drunks on the road.

I may elicit some serious push-back on this one, but I have lots of touring miles all over the U.S. and Canada.
Not only are there more dogs in the South, I believe that the South is less tolerant of touring cyclists.
Outside of college towns, the South is more firmly wedded to the altar of the automobile.
Rail trails, wide shoulders, hiker/biker camping - tend to be found in the North and West Coast.
As is an attitude of tolerance towards people doing things - like bike touring - that some might never consider.

I know you mention the TransAm - which has lots of miles in Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.
(Southern Illinois and eastern Kansas have a pretty Southern feel, too.)
If you stay on  the TransAm, there will be more cycling support - regardless of region.
And you will encounter other cyclists almost every day.

Other touring cyclists are rarer on other routes - rarer still if you craft your own route.
There is a trade-off, however.
On the TransAm you will be two of a parade that has been going on for 30 years.
If you chose to craft even a portion of your own route, you are likely to have a different experience.
It would be the latter case where region plays a greater role in overall comfort.


Obviously, I would not be posting here after 100,000 miles if I didn't think it was worth it.
In fact, I will be heading out on a 3000+ mile trip in two weeks.
Yes, there is some risk, but the rewards so outweigh any risks.
Physically, mentally, spiritually - you will never be the same.

US 6, Stone Cabin Valley, Nevada

Offline canalligators

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2016, 02:53:53 pm »
I almost agree with the statement that aggressive drivers will be found randomly, but some areas are more likely to have them.  As a generalization, I have found suburban drivers to be most likely to be intolerant.  City drivers and country drivers less so.  But this is just a generalization.

Situations may dictate issues.  You might find a high volume highway that suddenly loses its shoulder, a state highway connecting two expressways, things like that.  Or times of day - quitting time around industrial sites, and the previously mentioned prime drunk driving times. 

And oddly enough, states with a lot of paved shoulder mileage can have issues on roads where there are none.  It's almost like the drivers don't know what to do, and the thought of actually slowing down or timing their passage just doesn't occur to them.  On the other hand, I've seen states with no paved shoulders that treat cyclists well, I'll cite Massachusetts here, and most of the Northern Tier states west of the Great Lakes.  Highways with very narrow areas right of the fog line are dangerous, some motorists expect you to stay over there even if they're passing with less than a foot of clearance - learn the best lane positioning practice.  (The Pennsylvania Bike Drivers Manual is excellent, see chapter 2).

Have a great trip!

Offline zzzz

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2016, 08:33:07 pm »
You have my empathy. I frequently wonder if my practiced indiffirence to traffic could survive after getting tagged by a car. That said, going for a ride, whether it's near home or on a tour is always an act of faith. Today is not the day I will be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I will warn you about one place though, and it's really a shame, Yellowstone. The fact that one of the most iconic of the national parks is such an awful place to ride should be considered a scandal. The roads are narrow, not much shoulder, frequently 3-4' drop offs right where the pavement ends, and RV after RV after RV. I'm not telling you to skip it but you may want to make a point of getting your riding done early in the day before traffic builds.


Offline Awolcycling

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2016, 12:31:32 pm »
Thank you jamawani, canalligators, and zzz for your replies.  I appreciate the personal experiences you included and the specific suggestions.  The advice about the weekends/holidays is invaluable.  We hadn’t even thought about that.  Are usual group rides our Saturday and Sunday mornings but often over by noon. So you kind of forget what the rest of the day looks like on the roads. I loved the photo.  Seeing beautiful America is why we want to do this trip and we won’t be scared away from it but we’d just like to be as prepared as feasible.

With the suggestion of brushing up on our lane positioning we’re now building that into our training.  Getting comfortable taking the lane when we need to will very valuable. I’ll be checking out the PA manual soon.

Also thanks for the advice about Yellowstone.  I’m thinking about calling up the range station to see what suggestions they have, maybe they’ll even be our escort if we happen to get there at a really busy time.  :)

Thanks again.  Love to hear that people are out there on a regular basis enjoying their bicycles!

Jamawani enjoy your ride this summer!!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2016, 09:38:18 pm »
Yellowstone gets much busier after the Fourth of July. Try to be there before then.

Offline roderick.young

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2016, 06:33:45 pm »
Only once did I have something thrown at me on the Transamerica.  That was a drink full of ice.  Possibly the people were just done with it, and were littering, or perhaps they were malicious.  There wasn't much liquid left in it, just mostly ice.  It hit me hard, but square in the upper back, so I wasn't knocked off the bike.  Had it been a bottle, it would have done some damage.  What happened was I had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the Interstate.  Sometimes bikes are allowed on the Interstate, but usually not.  So that was lesson #1, if you realize you're on the Interstate, get off ASAP.

In that same year, my friend also did the Transamerica.  However, he was much stronger, and finished in 30 days, compared to my 80.  That meant that he rode into the night at times, while I usually quit at 2 - 4 pm.  He had bunch of (possibly drunk) boys in an SUV point a gun at him, and slowly follow him for a while.  Lesson #2, don't ride at night if you can avoid it, and especially not a Friday night (that's when my friend had trouble), when local boys could be drinking, bored, and looking to scare a stranger for entertainment.

I have not had much trouble at all, really, but when there is, it has generally been later in the day.  Maybe people get tired or hungry or had a bad day?  Not sure.

Once, I had someone yell rudely at me to "Get in the bike lane!"  At the time, I was thinking, WHAT bike lane?  Perhaps there was a second path somewhere besides the main road?  This was in Wisconsin - maybe that's their culture?  I noticed that in Minnesota, drivers were uniformly courteous, and never cursed, even if I was doing something wrong.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2016, 07:06:18 am »
My experience is that drivers are the worst around cyclists where they are not used to seeing them.  Most of the Trans America is likely to have enough bike traffic to make it less of an issue.

Also out on tour you are mostly in more rural areas, so I think it is likely to be less of an issue than around town in most locales.

Offline hbbra16

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2016, 02:17:10 pm »
In my experience, which is mostly city driving, with some country and a couple years up in Alaska now, the worst places to drive is in downtown areas. Not because of the aggressiveness or rudeness, but the difficulty in seeing and so many things happening at once.

I haven't met many rude people, never had anything thrown at me (knock on wood!), but I did have a guy get out of his car and try to start a fight. I'm 6'3 215, so this probably limits the number of people who will happily instigate.

I always bike defensively. In the country I don't use headphones, pay attention to my surroundings, and always watch out near turn ins, rest areas, etc. People out in the middle of the country that have been driving for tens of hours and hundreds of miles can and will lose some of their sharpness. I just always assume people don't see me.

I wouldn't worry about people throwing things at you. Honestly, if they are going 80 mph and your going 20 or so, thats a great shot if they hit you! Isn't it? I'd probably carry some pepper spray or something.

Offline Prairieboy43

Re: Aggressive Drivers During Transamerica?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2016, 10:01:24 pm »
Yes they are everywhere. That is why I shoot first, and ask questions later.  :) :)

I think you just have to take each day as it comes. You could encounter an aggressive driver anywhere, anytime. Worrying about it only generates self-defeating paranoia.
Chances are you won't encounter any.