Laughing at Road Rage

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It’s just too easy to get stressed out about road rage – especially the kind that’s directed towards vulnerable cyclists by angry bullies protected by two tons of steel. But all this stress is just as harmful to my health as sitting in a gridlocked car for two hours a day would be – which kind of defeats the whole purpose of cycling for health.

So I thought I’d do a light-hearted post and pass on some hilarious links I have been given.

road rage

Would you like some valium with that Ford?

Road rage seems to have arrived when the first driver got into the first car – and presumably felt powerful enough to treat his fellow human beings with fury if they slowed him down.

In 1895, speed limits were four miles per hour! Cars were still in the minority on the roads, beginning a fight for dominance that they would eventually win (sadly). At that time, before we all went into mass denial, people understood how dangerous cars could be. So all cars had to have a man walking in front of them, carrying a red flag or a lamp, to warn pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders of the approach of a dangerous vehicle that could potentially kill them.

Road rage - red-flag-act - Man carries red flag in front of moving car

With Great Speed Should Come Great Responsibility …

That law did not save Bridget Driscoll, run over by a car in 1896, aged 44 – the first recorded pedestrian victim. This was just after the speed limit was raised to 14 miles per hour.

With great power comes great responsibility
With great power comes great responsibility

With great speed should come great responsibility. Unfortunately, it came instead with great rage, because by 1902, Otto Bierbaum was shocked by the road rage he encountered while doing a road trip:

“Never in my life have I been cursed at so frequently as on my automobile trip in the year 1902 … not to mention all the wordless curses: shaking fists, stuck-out tongues, bared behinds, and others besides.”

As we know, it’s been all downhill since then. Road rage and untimely death have grown with the spread of the car, accelerating as speeds got faster and faster. By 1950, Disney had a theory about road rage, which he captures in this really funny and entertaining Goofy cartoon. Watch how Goofy transforms as he gets behind the wheel. Sad to think that this was recognized in 1950, but 65 years later we still have no control over it.

Road Rage Directed at Cyclists

In more recent years, responding to the  twin threats of bad health  and global  warming, cyclists have been trying to claw back just a little of the road space, trying to return to a time when travel was slower, saner and safer. Unfortunately, cyclists have become a focus for the road rage of some motorists, perhaps because they are such an easy target.

This rage is cloaked in all kinds of nonsensical justifications and demands, as captured in this lol satire on Ian Walker’s blog – it’s really worth clicking on … enjoy.

I’d like to build a collection of this kind of humour, and periodically share it with people. So if you have any great suggestions or links, please let me know!

Thanks to Bobbie Bees for the link to the Goofy cartoon, and to pacpost for the link to the satire.

Update: Here’s another link, sent in by Chris:


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    • says

      Yes, my favourite part is the mad racing from red light to red light – that cracks me up every time, because it highlights the insanity of city driving. All if needs is an average cyclist, cycling along in a relaxed and happy way, and catching up at every light – which is what I experience in traffic.

      I just showed the cartoon to my 9-year-old, and asked her what SHE thought causes road rage. She said “probably because it’s not much fun to be in a car.” Out of the mouths of babes …

  1. pacpost says

    Humour and a deep breath, that’s about all we have.

    I know I have my moments of anger, but with time I’ve realised (like so many others) that the only thing I do have control over is my own reaction. I get on my bike every morning knowing that I will encounter idiocy, from all sides: mostly drivers, but also fellow cyclists, bus drivers and pedestrians. We’re all a bit dumb sometimes. ;-)

    I simply do my best to stay alert, and ride defensively. I’m also hoping that, by riding carefully and at a comfortable speed (i.e., not peddling like I’m Mark Cavendish trying to win a Tour de France stage), I’m countering the cliched image that many people might have of cyclists.

    Of course, all these lovely thoughts get tested when I come across something like this:

    I guess some people simply choose to go through life angry.

    Anyway, to end this comment on a positive note, I really see the need for some sort of marketing campaign for Vancouver (and the region in general). Maybe something along the lines of what they’re doing in Sydney:

    • says

      I learned long ago never to read Mr. Tsakumis’ site… But I went ahead and read that article anyway. In that post, he brags about hitting a cyclist’s bike with a baseball bat… Assuming this isn’t made up, I hope the victim reports this to the police so charges can be made.

      • says

        Hi Alex. I’ve just read it for the first (and I hope last) time. I keep telling myself I should not bother to respond to malevolent morons, but I can’t seem to help myself, so I did post a comment … now I hope he doesn’t hunt me down and knock me and my kids off our bikes … from what I read, nothing would give him greater pleasure than to use his great big car to smash a 9-year-old girl into the gutter, then perhaps get out and hit her and her bike with his kid’s baseball bat. He seems to be hell bent on teaching his children bullying, assault, battery and ultimately murder – and the smaller they come, the easier they are to knock down!

    • says

      Pacpost, your approach is much like mine. I try to be the change I want to see in the world, and model good cycing behaviour, in the hope of showing others that many of us cyclists are sane, law-abiding people just trying to get to work and back. Don’t know if it will do any good – but it certainly can’t do any harm.

      Thanks for the links – although I am sorry to say that the Tsakumi guy annoyed me slightly. Still, there are advantages to being a writer – I commented on his post, and immediately felt much better. He probably won’t publish it, as it was scarcely admiring – but at least it’s out of my system!

  2. Road Lice says

    Unfortunately I think Mr. Tsakumi is the nouveau Mr. Vancouver. It’s not the semi-civilized gumboot village it used to be. There now seems to be a critical mass of Mr. Tsakumi’s in Vancouver. These days I am not surprised at all when the Mr. Tsakumi’s drive into the path of cyclists with their SUV’s and brag to the other Mr. Tsakumi’s about it on the internet. Perhaps we should think about changing the name of the city from “Vancouver” to “Mr. Tsakumi City”.

    • says

      Road Lice, to keep believing in this wonderful city and country, I MUST believe that such as he are merely the lunatic fringe – NOT our tomorrow …