archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

How do automobile drivers usually react to trike riders?

Q. How do motorists respond to people on tricycles most of the time?

A. The typical inexperienced thought on this topic is one that seems to be at odds with reality. While motorists may at times present a threat to trikers, they do so unintentionally, and are generally not a true threat. Always watch automobiles with the frame of mind that none of the drivers see you! Pretend like you are invisible, and you will go a long way towards keeping yourself and trike intact. If they see you, they will more than likely afford you extra courtesy. My experience, and that of other well-traveled trike pilots I know, demonstrates that over the course of thousands of miles ridden, only a very minuscule minority of motorists will ever knowingly disrespect the philosophy and law of sharing the road with cyclists. By far, most drivers will demonstrate a noble level of humanity and honor your presence.

Sooner or later though, you will probably encounter one of these drivers who believe the road is only for them, but it’s so infrequent as to be a non-issue when considering getting a trike or taking a ride. The worst things that have happened to me so far are: 1) a driver waiting until her front bumper was even with my head while passing, and then laying on the horn, even though the road was wide open and straight with no other traffic, 2) a motorhome passenger in a very tight and blind mountain curve screaming thoughtless words at me, even though the driver was courteous and allowed plenty of room. I’ve been passed by thousands of cars over many hundreds of miles, in all types of roadway and terrain, and only those two aggressive incidents have occurred.

Remain courteous yourself at all times, even in the face of these rude humans, for if you allow your temper to overcome your intellect by returning their discourtesy, it only sets the stage for the next cyclist that motorist sees, and (s)he will only get worse and more bitter over time. These few drivers are troubled people, so please do not reinforce their antisocial behavior with any of your own! This is easy to do once you realize that over 99% of all motorists will treat you with a very high level of respect and courtesy. Be the change you want to see in the world – it’s an honorable philosophy in all facets of life of course! The negative cycle has to be broken somewhere, be it a wrongdoer or rude driver, and I aim to be the source of change! Let us all be cycling ambassadors, sending a positive image when out in traffic.

Tampa Bay boy on trike

Being a recumbent tricycle ambassador starts young. Teach ’em well for tomorrow.


2 responses

  1. armadillozack

    I tend to agree that I am more visible then invisible to drivers in cars or other wise..! I had this very conversation just recently with one or more of my facebook friends.. Recumbent riders are usually afforded more space and are generally treated as an oddity by most drivers, and will have taken more care passing you as they are curious to see exactly what you are.. And in some measure more apt to creating accidents with other cars or trucks because the were paying attention to a recumbent rider and not paying attention to other vehicles as well…! So here’s the thing, we are somewhat responsible for accidents on the roadways but not because we are obstructing traffic, or the drivers visibility, but because we are an oddity and nothing more…! Very seldom do I hear about a recumbent rider being a victim, other then being hit by a drunken driver, or a reckless driver.. It is usually the recumbent most often being blamed for an accident, but hardly the cause, and statistically it is my understanding that diamond frame riders are hit by cars most often, then the recumbent rider… I have had by slim chance 2 accidents with one being a reckless driver speeding thru traffic and side swiping me taken out my mirror only, the other a woman driving an SUV, pushing my out on to the street because of not checking the opposite side before pulling out from a bank drive thru, inflicting no damage to me or my ride… I did however need to return home for an underpants change as it scared the hell out of me…! But that is all….
    Armadillo Zack

    January 26, 2017 at 9:28 am

  2. Right on, Steve! I especially like “These few drivers are troubled people…”

    January 26, 2017 at 6:16 pm