It occurred to me the other day as I looked up into the smiling eyes of a tractor trailer driver, that as he used his 40 ton death machine to push me either onto the expressway or off the road; that we as cyclists must unite to work to fight back against this type of vehicular unsavoryness.
Since I had been clearly and undeniably in front of the truck and had the right of way, this type of behavior can be described as nothing short of malicious. And the grin that spread across the driver's face (Yes, I was close enough to see it clearly) comes as further evidence that he felt his actions were amusing.
I struggled to clip in and and vie for space as the oversized spinning hubs of the bohemoth ground closer to my person. Not letting up the driver captained his vessel faster in my direction rather than allowing me to safely crossing his path. Panic took over and I clipped in, and spun at a fevered pitch to barrel out and across the path of certain demise. Heart pounding, I glanced across a lane of safety only to see the driver still bemused by my life and death struggle for survival.
The truck quickly gained several hundred yards of distance as it merged onto the Long Island Expressway while I cursed to myself, "What was that license plate or what was the company name on the side of the truck, dammit I didn't get it!"
Yelling, screaming and flashing explicitive guestures in these circumstances may give some minimal immediate satisfaction but in the long term, they don't solve anything. Cyclists must work to band together to bring consequence to these types of actions on the part of drivers. Only then will drivers be forced to obey the law. Had I been able to get some piece of information to identify the truck I could have called the police on my cell phone to bring some legal action against the driver of the vehicle or the company that owned it.
From now on, I am going to make "Getting the Plate" a thing of paramount importance. If drivers fear fines and jail time, then they may curb their road rage/ road malaise. With cycling increasing in popularity there are tons of new cyclists hitting the road every year. With that number increasing, the number of cyclists involved in vehicular accidents and the number cyclist fatalities increases. Not a good common trend. In order to reverse the second statistic remember, "Get the Plate!", bring accountability for the actions of drivers. Force them to drive more responsibly.
Editor's note: although most commercial drivers are true professionals, there are those out there who are renegade, and these reckless purveyors of death and destruction must be gotten off the road. With commercial vehicles, their whereabouts at any given date and time is fairly well known. Often times, all that is needed to identify the particular truck and driver combo is the company on the trailer or cab and the time/place of the incident. These are generally much easier to read and recall than the commercial plate number. Our complaints will carry very little legal impact, but if "Generic Big Rig Trucking Company" keeps getting complaints about "Samuel Trucker" they will be unwilling to risk the potential legal mess associated with transforming a cyclist into a Tarmac Taco.
Look for a reporting form here in the very near future. We will happily forward the reports to the authorities and in the case of commercial vehicles, the operators, for you! We will also begin recording the incidents in a data base to create a statistical representation.