I follow a blog called "bikeyface" - which is a cartoonish look at what it's like to inhabit bicycling culture. Here's one of her pictures. It's pertinent to the discussion today.
Every time I try to PSA drivers with reminders or perspective, a "#notallmen" kind of phenomenon occurs in which people lament being behind slow cyclists or how dangerous it is when they swerve into oncoming traffic. Anyone who chooses to take their car-keys off their chain and put the key to their bike-lock on there is apparently meant to answer for any poor choices made by anyone else on a bike. It's as frustrating for me to see too. I have yelled at other cyclists, ironically not nearly as much as people in cars yell at each other. I sigh and try to remind them of some of the data and reasons behind certain behaviors, but that's no use. You won't notice me moving along at 25 mph and yielding defensively, you'll notice the dude with headphones that almost gets run-down near a major intersection (the one day I drove!). Incredibly, even with all these awfully dangerous cyclists around, it remains an incredibly safe activity, unless you live in Florida. Not sure what's going on in Florida. Everywhere else, bicycling fatalities are 1 in a million. There's a circular logic here as well, with more cyclists, the safer the roads are.
The CarsVBike phenomenon goes all the way back to the introduction of the car, which used roads that had been laid down for cyclists. The culmination of this was the 60's when car culture peaked and bikes waned. I think bikes are coming back. Cars are expensive and dangerous, and the internet precludes a lot of the kinds of reasons people were so into car culture in the past. So you're going to see more cyclists on the road. Let's declare peace. Here are some whimsical ideas I had for drivers.
1) If you're sporting (oh you watch football?), offer me the opportunity to draft off you. On the rare occasion I've been graced with this, it's been wonderful. See if you can slowly increase your speed without leaving me behind; Mile-a-minute murphy broke the 60mph record by drafting off of a train. Exciting!
2) Keep a spare bottle of water in your car. You can give me "Hand-ups", just like on Le Tour! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ3HEY0VFzo
3) Yell "woooo!" or "Nice bike!" or "keep it up!" Everyone likes that. Once I caught up with some dudes in a car that had yelled some encouragement; they freaked out. It was great.
4) Roll down the window and say hello at stop lights. I had a great conversation with a dude from new york about his bike with the graphite forks.
5) Just give a wave... you have no idea how much more human this makes you.
6) "which way are you going.... I'm going the same way, wanna race?" It's fun for everyone.
7) Avoid waving on a cyclist when you have the right of way at a 4 way stop. I've even had drivers stop when I was sitting at a stop sign. This is your indoctrinated car culture at work. I'm not stupid or disabled, I'm just on a bike. You're creating a dangerous situation for everyone by being unpredictably "extra nice".
8) Watch out for common accident scenarios. The most common thing to ask before an accident is "why is that dude stopped" and not "hold my beer" as many believe. Check out the dash cam for examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D2wfjP477k
9) Ask your cycling friends to take you on a ride. It's fun. We'll adjust your bike to fit you correctly and show you how to do things that'll save you 60$ on a tune up. You'll realize where the danger really is on the road.
10) Offer rides to your cycling friends.
In return I'll promise to continue doing exactly what I'm doing. Can you really ask for more than that?
Some parting shots. How would you treat a cyclist if they got onto the elevator and pushed the floor just before yours? You probably wouldn't swear at them.
Anecdotaly, drivers are improving around here I think. I haven't seen anyone's middle finger or heard a pointless honk in quite some time now.