One of the more difficult parts of bicycling that comes as a surprise to new cyclists is harassment. I was astonished and horrified when a truck swerved toward me one day while his passenger swung his door open trying to hit me. Or the day that a truck passed me and honked, then slammed on his brakes right in front of me. I stopped an inch away from his bumper.
Those are the most extreme examples of harassment I’ve experienced. I have heard of other cyclists who have had things thrown at them. Almost every cyclist has been honked and yelled at, or passed by too closely.
I hate to talk about this because I don’t want to dissuade anyone from bicycling. But it’s better to be prepared. The thing to do in these situations is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done: Do nothing.
Well, not quite nothing. Get the license plate number and report the harasser to the police and to the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation (if you are a member—and this alone is worth the modest membership fee). You might think a little honk or yell isn’t worth reporting someone to the police, and maybe it’s not, but the police would rather know about it than not. You should definitely report anything more serious than a honk or a yell.
But other than that, you must do nothing and it takes considerable fortitude. It takes even more fortitude—and more than I have—if your child is the recipient of the harassment. Every time I have confronted a motorist, no matter how calm I am or think I am, I have regretted it. The motorist will instantly get defensive and hate bicyclists all the more for your efforts, and the situation can easily escalate. MoBikeFed will send an effective letter that does not include your name, which explains the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists.
As long as you and your child are unharmed, let it go.