Dealing With Angry Drivers

Do you cycle to work? Do you bike the kids to school? Do you sometimes go for a morning ride before you start the day proper?

Well, be careful out there; it’s dangerous. Especially so, it appears, if you live in the UK. A combination of downtrodden infrastructure, general lawlessness and impatient drivers can can create a toxic atmosphere on the streets.

Don’t believe me? Watch this:

[WARNING: epic amounts of NSFW swearing]

So, how is the sagely cyclist to prepare themselves for the slings and arrows of outrageous stupidity on the UK’s roads?

Well, you can start out by accepting that there is, to a very large degree, nothing you can do to stop stupid people getting behind the wheel. In fact, in many parts of London, it almost seems to be a requirement to have a drivers’ license.

‘Just a few more questions Sir, and then I’ll be happy to hand you a permit to drive a lethal weapon at high speeds down poorly maintained roads.’


‘Do you regularly harbour homicidal thoughts whilst sitting in traffic?’


‘Do you have a pathological hatred of people in lycra and/or high-viz clothing?’


‘Do you promise to make unexpected, high-speed left-hand turns without indicating?’


‘Do you regularly rub yourself up against photos of Jeremy Clarkson?’


So, to help you accept the general idiocy, aggression and Trump-level ignorance that you are likely to encounter, you can take a lead from Marcus Aurelius:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but of the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations, Book 1*

That’s right: Accept the fact that you are going to be sworn at by angry white-van drivers, cut off by boy-racers in tarted-up Vauxhall Corsas and generally ignored by gleefully oblivious bus drivers.

And if you do get yelled at? Yes, stand your ground. But don’t play the rage game:

No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations, Book 1*

See you on the road.


Image: Citroën Traction Avant vs. Citroën C50. Taken in Homerton, Hackney, London. (C) Damien DeBarra, 2016.

Words:  (c) Damien DeBarra, 2016.

*Note: the translation of Marcus Aurelius shown here is that taken from a Brain Pickings blog post. The link provided below the quotes leads to the free Wikisource version. I used the Brain pickings version for readability. Those wishing to get to know Marcus for the first time are recommended to check out the Gregory Hays translation, which is about the most accessible and popular version.

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