Don't do it. In DC, the police can (and will) use this as an excuse to claim a "hit and run." Even if you were doing so simply to avoid a collision with the vehicle after they illegally cut you off. I can attest to that one. Ultimately, you will prevail since it's a ridiculous insinuation by the DC police, but the anti-bike cops will say anything touching of a vehicle at any time constitutes hitting it. Seriously, they said even brushing a vehicle as you walk between parked cars constitutes hitting it. So it suffices to say you definitely shouldn't touch it out of anger or face the wrath of the anti-bike DC police (and I do note some of their officers are outstanding and understand the rules of the road/laws including bicycling laws far better than others).
I used to be more of a thumper myself (both biking and running -- I thumped quite a number of cars turning into crosswalks in NYC; I also enjoyed squirting them with my water bottle while running), but I've mellowed for multiple reasons:
1) the primary one being the stories I've heard of drivers (and other passengers) going completely beserk, coupled with the realization that I am not equipped to fight off/effectively run away from a car full of angry people, especially if they have guns (I live in Virginia, I have to be a realist).
2) I have a kid, and one in my belly, so I really, really, really don't want to get hurt.
3) I've done stupid things too, and while I do my best not to do stupid things, sometimes it just happens (sorry guy waiting in the middle of Lee Hwy in the crosswalk near Nelson the other day -- I really thought you were going to keep checking your phone, so I didn't stop to let you cross - even though I admit I had time once I saw you look up from your phone).
4) Cars (and the internet) make many people meaner and more stupid.
Now, I generally limit interaction to real danger, and I try to yell first, thump if necessary. In my current state (very pregnant = very conservative rider), I've had far fewer really dangerous interactions. I'm not sure whether that will be predictive of my riding next year.
I've done soft, but urgent and repeated, open hand slaps on exactly two occasions. Both were at the start of right hook situations near the Clarendon metro and in both cases the drivers were too stunned seeing me right there to react in anger.
I treat cars like my kids - yell at them but no hitting
I will amend my previous post to say that in situations where you fear an immediate accident, rules are out the window. Be polite if possible, but do what you have to do.
And since we all of course ride like PALs all the time, the driver is sure to see the error of his or her ways immediately.
I tapped a car in Crystal City while walking in a cross-walk with the walk sign. The driver decided that he could squeeze between me and the curb I was walking toward. As I slowed to let him pass, thought I would remind him that I was rightfully crossing the street and was close enough to tap his car. He stopped and asked if I had touched his car, I said yes and explained that I was in the cross-walk with the walk light. Instead of saying he was sorry, he offered to tear my skin off. I declined the offer and he drove off.
Guess the answer is: best not to tap cars unless you are willing to deal with the driver.
The reverse also holds true - if a driver gives me the finger or yells at me he will have to deal with me when I inevitably catch up to him!
Originally Posted by unclejed
If knocking on someone's window means I've been in a hit and run collision, fine me, put me in jail and make me pay for the damages. Fair enough.
A lot of people are talking about slapping cars which could be construed as an act of violence. Mine is usually more of a polite knocking with knuckles. Knocking on windows is probably better than painted surfaces as far as perceived 'damage' and to make a noise that's easier to hear inside.
Fist slammed hard on the car roof directly above the driver's head is sometimes necessary in extreme cases of negligent or aggressive driving. That gets their attention! Love to see them jump. "Oh did I scare you? OK, we're even. Now how about safe driving? Would you like to try some of that for a change? I hear it's quite relaxing."
Oops, sorry for the rant.
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