I had a driver that was very upset at my existence the other day and the experience got me thinking about something that every cyclist has/will encounter, the Near Miss!
It’s an irrational driver who is very upset at your very existence on his or her road and believes that your disdain for their internal bias against cyclists is absolutely infuriating. This driver believes that you must be taught a lesson for riding your “sin on two wheels” by executing the tried and true method of passing, turning or driving alongside you at an uncomfortably close proximity.
While this maneuver is annoying(at the least) and deadly(at the worst) I’ll take it over the “Close Call” every single day.
The “Close Call” is always dangerous and easily deadly because there’s no thought or intention behind it. This move is usually pulled off by a driver that likely means absolutely no harm to you or anyone else for that matter. In fact, this person is probably very nice and outside of this circumstance a great friend to have. Ironically, the “Near Miss” and “Close Call” look very similar and share many characteristics such as passing, turning and driving alongside at uncomfortable proximity but they are VERY DIFFERENT.
It’s this difference that makes me prefer the “Near Miss”. That difference is simple awareness. If the irate driver is executing a “Near Miss” maneuver as least I know they see me and acknowledge that they could do damage to me with their vehicle. When I suspect a “Near Miss” but look up to see someone talking on the phone completely oblivious to the everything outside of their vehicle(including me) I get very nervous. While the former, has every intent to scare me, he/she doesn’t really want to kill me but the later has no intention AT ALL and that scares me!
So if you pull a “Near Miss” on me and see me throw you an extra wide smile, don’t get more upset. It’s 50% to piss you off and 50% relief that I know you see me and (while scary to me) are less of a threat to actually kill me!