The school busses were not on my side today during my ride to work.
First, one passed so close I could reach out and touch the bright yellow side. The second, a few miles later, decided to pull out right in front of me, rather than waiting until I had passed.
In each case, I had a choice on how I communicated with the driver – and I’ll admit, my first instinct wasn’t the most polite. But as participants in a recent panel discussion on “How to Avoid and/or De-escalate Road Rage” agreed, the usual responses – yelling, gestures, slapping the car – don’t help, and can often escalate a situation.
So I chose to be nice.
Instead of an “avian-inspired” gesture, I used my hands to try to demonstrate to the driver that more space would be appreciated. And instead of yelling at the driver as she cut me off, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I could do more damage by yelling at someone who clearly didn’t know she had done something wrong. (Really, how much can I communicate to a bus when they are driving in the opposite direction?)
There is no question that, in the heat of the moment, when the adrenaline is rushing, it can be difficult to “Choose to be Nice.” But in the end, it’s probably the best way to help drivers and cyclists share the road safely.