Why Do Old People Hate Cyclists?

I don’t bike that much anymore and when I do most of my bike kits are — accidentally — pink. So, I look all small and girlish, which means, for a variety of vaguely sexist reasons, I don’t get yelled at as much by angry drivers and people who want to re-claim the roads for the cars or whatever. (I mean I do get yelled at, obviously. There’s a lot of hatred towards anyone on a bike over the age of 10. It’s just not as much.)

But, Steve does. He gets all kinds of crazed people screaming at him about paying the road tax. Primarily because he rides a lot and because he looks all pro and cyclist-y. If you look legit, someone will try to kill you with their car. If you want to avoid the hatred: don’t wear spandex, stick as many baskets or carriers or extra whats-its on your bike as possible, preferably carry a backpack — but don’t be a tourist. It’s complicated.

People say things to me when I’m running, but, for the most part, no one’s tried to kill me.

We live on the edge of a whole shitload of nothing. (Side note: someone dropping something off at my place once saw a deer and was convinced “it’s so quaint” and “rural.” But, like, I dunno, we were standing outside a Panera when she said this, so.) The point is, though, that you go through one stoplight getting out of our neighborhood, then you can bike and bike for maybe six or seven hours without seeing any stop lights or large towns or, sometimes, people. There’s really not a whole lot for drivers to get upset about.

And, yet.

Yesterday, when Steve was riding out of our place in the early evening, he was making a left turn and in the left-turn lane, signalling or whatever. An old guy pulls up behind him honking and honking and screams out the window, “I don’t care if you get killed. In fact, I hope you do.”

Um, ok.

A couple months ago, a very elderly woman started swerving into Steve when he was riding back from the valley to our house. He kept moving out of the way and she kept riding into him to force him to pull over, I guess. Eventually she pulls up next to him and starts yelling at him. “I saw you go through three stoplights and, I’m not the police, but you just need to know. I just wanted to tell you I feel sorry for you.” And, Steve was like, um, I haven’t been through a stoplight in three hours; there are no stoplights here. She just kept yelling at him, “I feel sorry for you.”

(It sounds like I’m making all these people old in these stories, but that’s just a fact. Old people are crazy.)

There’s other, lots of other, crazier stories he has and I have and friends have. Whenever I do ride home at commute time, with so many stressed cars on the road, it usually makes me hate people and feel bad about the future of humanity. But, sometimes, when they’re just so crazy, you have to wonder what they do the rest of the time they’re not harassing cyclists.

What’s the craziest thing anyone’s yelled at you while biking?

14 thoughts on “Why Do Old People Hate Cyclists?

  1. I don’t get many people yelling at me, but the last time someone yelled something at me, I caught up to them a half mile later, pulled up right beside them and politely said “I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand what you were trying to tell me back there. What were you trying to say?” they were suddenly much more cordial to me.

    On a related note to drivers trying to kill those of us on bikes, I just ordered a helmet camera. Figured I just need one good frame of a license plate if someone does a hit & run.

  2. I was riding up Chapman (Ya know the residential, quiet, less trafficked way up Camino Alto) and I was riding on the right side, very much abiding by road rules even though there are very few cars on that small road. There was an older man walking up (same direction) but on the opposite side. He had a dog and the dog looked at me and as I rode past I heard him yell something at me. It took me about 100 yards to process but what he said was “an ON YOUR RIGHT is required!”. I was so confused, I wasn’t even within 20ft of the guy when I passed, did he have some notion that he would just spontaneously dart across the road? No need to yell because you are startled! Old people, sheesh.

  3. I got punched in the face by a guy who didn’t like me on my bike – except he did that in front of a cop driving the other way so he went to jail. Only one person pulled up and said if they ever saw me again they would kill me. This is why I started carrying a handgun on my bike -then that got heavy, so I just stopped riding all over the place and stuck to the same boring but less red-necky roads.

    1. I feel like if someone decides they’re going to hit you with their car, you’re not going to have time to get your gun out of your jersey pocket, stop, and fire it at them effectively to get them to stop. I mean maybe you’re like training for that situation, but it actually sounds pretty close to impossible.

  4. I was walking my bike (yes, walking it) across a busy crosswalk like a good little cyclist near 79th and Broadway in NYC. A woman, beginning her own cross toward the side I had just left, came up to me as I was reaching the curb and said, “You cut the corner!” I said, “What, I cut the what?” And she said, “The crosswalk, you’re supposed to walk there and you cut the corner!” She may have been right but the details are irrelevant because she then FLUNG THE CONTENTS OF HER WATER BOTTLE AT ME and then SPIT IN MY FACE.

  5. Old people are afraid. They have trouble seeing you. And when they ‘suddenly’ do see you, it scares them. And then that makes them angry. I realize that is their fault. But you asked why. They are also afraid of the changing world. I don’t know what to do to help this situation. We could have them all put to sleep – but I am getting old too. I don’t know what to do to help that situation either.

  6. As long as their is mutual respect between cyclist and cars then there isn’t a problem. It’s the same respect between cars and big rigs…there’s something called being right..and there is something called being dead right..meaning you we’re right..you should’ve had the rightofway but now you are dead…but you were right.

  7. I dislike cyclists now because I pulled over after work to throw away some trash, mind you I drive 200 miles a day for work and work hard. I pull over with my father and friend, stretch and I look down at my phone and out of nowhere some cyclist rides past me and just spits all in my face and on my friends window. Sadly for him, were going to see him in the same spot tomorrow. Some cyclists are fucking rude, others not so much but I hear about crap like this all the time. Who in their right mind. Disgusting.

    1. That’s crazy. But, one time a white man spit in my roommate’s face. She hasn’t decided to hate all white men now. And, I hear crap like that about white guys all the time.

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