I received an email from Alan Solot, a Tucson Velo reader about an incident he and his riding partners experienced last Saturday on Mission Road.

Here’s his account:

I have a regular Saturday morning group ride.  The route on this past Saturday’s ride was The Shootout route (note:  we weren’t in “THE Shootout, but only riding that route).  When we do that route, we typically wait at the bridge to regroup (if you don’t know, the bridge on Mission is about 11 miles south of Irvington).  On Saturday, while we waited to regroup, a black, small, sporty and very fancy Mercedes quickly arrived and pulled over. The driver (who was German and immediately admitted being “pissed”) discussed with the group of cyclists that he sees lots of “mistakes” and “stupid” riders, etc., etc. When asked to define more clearly his concerns, he was unable to do so. He never gave any specifics.  And, while we were engaged in this discussion with the German fellow, the last three riders of our group arrived. It turns out that when the German fellow passed them, he gestured at them and when he was dissatisfied with the riders’ response, stopped, backed up and proceeded to drive for several minutes next to one of these riders. As he drove next to the rider, he was yelling at him, calling him “stupid” and “ignorant” and be generally very disrespectful.  As that rider would speed up, the German fellow would speed up.  As the rider would slow down, the German fellow would slow down. These three riders reported to me that the German fellow was speeding as he overtook them, but had to slow down to pass as an other group of riders were in the opposite lane traveling south. They guess that the German fellow was upset since he had to slow down to pass the riders.  They also reported to me that they were on or near the white line the entire time, and were not even riding two abreast, let alone three abreast.  In other words, they did nothing wrong at all, but their existence on the road seemed to be upsetting to the German fellow. And, you likely know that stretch of Mission has essentially no motor vehicle traffic.

By the way, I’m referring to him as the “German fellow” since we never got his name, but he announced immediately after he stopped his car that he was from Germany. He also announced that he was a cyclist years ago (I’d estimate his age to be in his 70 years or so), knew lots about cycling and believed that European cyclists ride correctly where cyclists in the US are “ignorant” and make “mistakes.”

Fortunately for the German fellow and for us, the scene was defused by us riding away.  I’ve fairly sure that the  German fellow will do this again, and that he’s got an ax to grind about cyclists. I can only speculate about what he is upset about, since he never was able to state any of the “mistakes” that he claims he sees cyclists constantly making.  He wanted us to view him as reasonable and concerned about cyclists, but his behavior (lengthy yelling at a rider for no apparent reason) says otherwise.

8 thoughts on “Reader’s email: Incident on Shootout route”
  1. Well, that’s certainly not the typical driver vs. cyclist encounter.  I think his memory of how riders in his home country rode were colored by his attitude  and/or bias and were likely less than accurate.  I’ve never seen an encounter like that.  I’ve certainly been harassed for an extended distance by a driver before (several times), and like everyone else I’ve had the typical ignorant shoutings from cars.  Drivers, though that have taken the time to slow down or stop to talk to me have either been asking if I need help, saying they like my kit or bike, asking for directions, or as on a handful of occasions telling me that they appreciated my courtesy/riding/visibility (at night).

    Given the harassing nature of the German fellow’s interaction, it might have been worth getting his license plate number and reporting him.

  2. What Alan didn’t mention in his e-mail is that he’s an attorney. And a darn good one too.

    Don’t let this slide, Alan. Your colleague, Erik Ryberg, has documented numerous instances where motorist-bicyclist confrontations didn’t turn out as well.

  3. Letting this sort of behavior go unchallenged–as in not reporting as much to the police–encourages aggressors by letting them think that cyclists won’t stand up for themselves and that such behavior has no repercussions.

  4. Agreed. It puzzles Red Star that there is no mention in Alan Solot’s narrative whether 911 was called during this incident described as “…several minutes…” and “…lengthy…” it seems there was ample time, information, witnesses/victims and cause to make such a cellphone call.

    In any case, it is possible that the aberrant motorist was impaired by a substance (alcohol, meds) or a brain health problem.  Why let him motor on to wreak havoc elsewhere with others?

  5. I would’ve told one of the other riders, loud enough for the driver to here, “Get his license plate and call 911.”

  6. “Get his license plate and call 911.”
    That’ll work out great (sarcasm), last time TPD was called on a shootout ride, they played chicken head on with the pack and resulted in a bunch of broken bones.
    This guy sounds downright civil compared to some of the crazies in Tucson.

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