Tailgating *ssholes and you: a few coping strategies

by on January 18, 2008
in Riding Tips

Whenever we are out on the bikes, my husband likes to ride sweep – which means he likes to be the last rider in the line-up. (Here’s what happened when I tried riding sweep last summer.) He has said he does this because he wants to keep idiot cagers at bay – you know, the ones who insist on driving so close to the vehicle in front of them that they couldn’t possibly stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision.

I was thinking about this the other day while driving to my dad’s, and noticing one of those really huge pickup trucks that was so close on my bumper I couldn’t see his headlights in my rear-view mirror. The whole thing made me wonder what I would do if, in fact, I had someone tailgating me on the bike.

It seems to me there are a few options:

1). Tap my brakes and hope they get the hint before they actually rear-end me.
2). Give a wave or other appropriate gesture which says, “You are too close and should back off.”
3). Ride with a .38 Special tucked visibly into the back of my waistband. Good only if no cops happen to come up behind me.
4). When safe, pull off to the side and let them pass.
5). Pull up to a stoplight, shut off the bike, put the kickstand down, and walk back to the offender and ask them just what the hell they think they are doing.

Another one I’ve heard bikers talk about is to throw small objects from your pocket at the vehicle. Of course, you don’t throw your housekeys or other personal effects – you carry something specifically for this purpose. Examples might include small ball-bearings, chunks of busted ceramic material from old spark plugs, small pebbles, glass marbles, frozen peas, or even Skittles. While I can relate to the sense of glee one must get from exacting revenge in this way, it seems to me that these days you might only be provoking someone’s sense of righteous road rage.

What I usually do in the car is slow way down so I’m at least 5 mph under the speed limit, and wait for them to get impatient and go around me. I’ve never had that not work, so that’s probably what I’d do on the bike – followed by hand gestures if necessary. Or maybe even if not necessary. 

How about you – what’s your best strategy for discouraging tailgaters?

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9 Responses to “Tailgating *ssholes and you: a few coping strategies”
  1. Kristin says:

    I got a kick out of this. I think it would be funny to do number 5 with a big group of bikers, but you are right, our luck it would be some hot tempered red neck with his shot gun within reach. I think Steve just likes to be last in line to check out all the hot women he is riding with.

  2. Chelle says:

    I have been rearended by people who weren’t paying attention to the flow of traffic. I don’t know what their problem was. I was in a pack of cars and started to slow down a bit because I knew I was getting to close to the car in front of me. The car behind me didn’t agree and wanted me to go faster.

    Now I drive as much as possible away from other cars. If someone gets on my tail I slow down, I tap the brakes, until they get annoyed with me enough to go around. I can’t stand to be tailgated after being creamed.

  3. Traci says:

    I actually love the *small items from the pocket* suggestion, but can guess yo’d be right @ the outcome, in most cases. I work in law enforcement so I know this for sure!! LOL But it sure provided a laugh. I’m new to riding so this also worries me but I think I’d choose your options. I do the same thing in my car as you. Good luck everyone!

  4. BikerChick says:

    Kristin, I’m pretty sure you are right about Steve! :)

    Chelle, so glad you are still riding after being rear-ended. You’re smart to just put as much room as you can between you and those not paying attention. I’d much rather have them go around me that deal with the stress of knowing they’re back there on my tail.

    Traci, here’s hoping none of us has to deal with this too much, new rider or not – it’s stressful and un-necessary! I could start another whole post were we generate a list of all the “small objects” we could carry with us! LOL

    ~ Janet

  5. Ragamuffin says:

    I haven’t been rear-ended on my bike but last summer down in Bisbee AZ a car kept coming up on me and then backing off – did that three or four times, no idea why. Started getting concerned but then they pulled off the road so that was the end of it. They won’t make you safer, but you can buy mirrors from J&P Cycles etc that say “A__holes in Mirror are Bigger Than They Appear'”. I’ve always thought those were sooo tacky – but at the same time, I’d kinda like to have a set!

  6. Well, there was the time when I was stuck in the fog with a tailgater, so I swung off down to the entrance of a state beach and lowsided. Suddenly these guys who were having a picnic in the fog came running out and within minutes I was right as rain.

    Nah, I wouldn’t recommend that method either. ;)

  7. PS — I’m not Raven’s Rides: Texas. “A little twist of Texas’ is the name of my book, but I’m English and live in California :)

  8. Mike in Texas says:

    When they are tailgating and I’m driving a car, I just turn my windshield washers on… Especially if I’m in an SUV with a rear wiper/washer… If I’m on my sportbike, I just accelerate to faster than they’re willing to go… I just bought a Harley, so I’m not sure what I would do with it… It’s not like it has the option to go as fast as my sportbike… I figure I’ll just slow down a bit, move to the right side of the lane, and then signal with my left hand for them to come around me… I figure that if I was in a hurry, I wouldn’t be riding a Harley anyway…

  9. O says:

    I’m a biker, & the problem I have is being forced thru the intersection by cagers who insist on sitting on my back bumper while on a motorcycle. They keep moving closer when I’m trying to move away from them, trying to keep my safe distance. They just won’t stop until I’m completely out of their way & through the intersection, & forced to go against a red light, NOT MY NORM!!!!!

    Here’s a full description of where the law is when u need protection:

    I hope every cop reads this: 2 tailgaters left me most vulnerable on my bike, at 2 different stops 2 day. I was nearly rear-ended by 2 cagers who forced me out of the way while I was stopped @ an intersection, & again @ another stop a few min later. Both times the driver behind me would’ve surely hit my bike from behind had I not gotten the heck out of there tho it wasn’t my turn. This is definitely NOT my norm!!! I had no other choice but 2 just go, or I would’ve been hit by the cager behind me, using that cage as a weapon. Cars r NOT weapons, & I won’t shut up til this shit stops! If we had some safety stop gates for bikers, I’d love to activate them right as the cager was coming upon me, since SOME wont take a hint & stay back! I know other bikers r faced w/ dangerous situations, there was even a very sad letter online about a lady biker who was killed after being rear-ended at a stop light. I won’t b next. Something needs done. We bikers need more protection out there b4 someone is badly Hirt, or even killed!!!!! We need either those type of gates similar to those at railroad tracks that bikers can activate like walk signals, (which I’d loop w to bring down onto some cager using the cage as a weapon) or we need some road widening to allow for a special lane for bikers only. At drive thrus, we need very looow clearances for bikers only, to protect them against rear-ending incidents by those who hate bikers. We bikers NEED more protection. If no one else will protect us, who will? We either need protected, or we may be forced to take matters into our own hands, which is what we don’t want, do we? I for one, am most vulnerable at stop lights, & other mandatory stops. I now wonder if I’m actually being targeted specifically….. I keep MY distance at stops, so why won’t certain others? Why wont certain people take a simple hint, & stay back off others who are in stopped traffic? Why not?

    Now that I thought all that was aside, I faced a 3’rd near miss by a drunk driver who wasn’t even paying attention!!!!! Below is a copy of my fb post, publicly exposing this idiot; here’s what happened…..

    Well, another complete idiot almost rear ended me 2 day. I was coming 2 a red light & just as I was slowing down, this old dark green junk car kept gaining on me, & had I not gotten out of his way, he would’ve surely hit me (he wasn’t looking). When I hollered for him to get off of me, he got mad & caught me @ the next stop that was on a side st & started after me physically. He wasn’t very clean or well kept. An old geiser w/ very long stringy white hair, & loads of facial hair. I was glad I wasn’t on a bicycle when this happened. I was on a motorcycle & had I not gone around him as he held up the lane, & chased after me, I would’ve likely been assaulted by him, as he acted like he was under the influence as drunks do when confronted.

    Bikes r most vulnerable when drivers intimidate them, which is what’s been going in her lately. I won’t put up w/ that crap, I had it out w/ that jerk & won. I also turned him in 4 attempted assault. I shoulda had a rock in my hand 2 throw right @ him when he stepped out of that car & started after me. That jerk wasn’t even paying attn as I was forced 2 abort coming 2 the light when this guy was NOT slowing down, & would’ve rammed my back had I not gotten out of his way, then he screamed @ me 4 telling him 2 back off! He had no excuse 4 b’n so close since I had a back off sign most ppl respect. This guy was a wacko mental case. I was sooo scared & shook up after the most recent incident. A report WAS made on the man who almost assaulted me.

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