Bicycle Network: Take Action
Harassment and road rage - What you can do
It can be a frightening and intimidating experience to be harassed while riding your bike, but there is action you can take.
Types of dangerous behaviour includes:
swerving towards the bike rider or deliberately passing too close
yelling abuse, honking horn and driving aggressively
forcing their way through traffic and 'squeezing' the bike rider.
Most bike riders are shaken and angry after an incident but feel powerless to do anything about it. Depending on the exact nature of the behaviour there are a number of steps you can take.
What to do about the behaviour
If you witness dangerous behaviour, you should record the registration number of the vehicle and details of any witnesses who saw the incident. You should report drivers to the police and/or other relevant bodies. Sometimes you will be asked to fill out a statutory declaration.
What not to do
Bike riders should not aggravate the situation in any way, doing so may put your safety at risk or even you make liable for road rage related crimes. In order to prevent the incident escalating, bike riders should:
- Be very careful about approaching the person
- Never follow the person, yell abuse, threaten or retaliate in anyway
- Never deliberately touch the other person or their property
Approaching the person
You may feel that you should talk to the driver but you should be very careful about doing this. You will most likely not know the person and you will not know how they are going to respond. Getting into an argument with the other person will not help anyone.
Retaliation is not an acceptable strategy.
Touching people or property
You should never deliberately touch the other person or their property. In the past bike riders have been charged with criminal damage for striking vehicles with their fists as their rode past. Criminal damage is a serious offence with serious consequences.
Reporting the behaviour
You can report a vehicle that throws an object at you to the EPA litter report line. Visit the EPA website or phone 1800 35 25 55 for a litter report form.
Company cars and vans
Contact the employer to report the driver. Reporting bad behaviour will help discourage it. Make sure you record the details of the incident: including time, place, and registration number.
Call the Victorian Taxi Directorate on 1800 638 802 (toll-free) . Contact the Victorian Taxi Directorate at Level 23, 80 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic 3000.
Make sure you record the details of the incident: including time, place, taxi number and registration number. The Taxi Directorate usually follows up by contacting the driver or their company. Criminal behaviour should be reported directly to the police.
Contact the Police
Should you wish to report an incident to the police, Bicycle Network encourages Members to go to the nearest police station and make a report.
Even if the behaviour you experienced is not strictly 'illegal', Victoria Police can get in touch with the driver to alert them that their behaviour has been reported. It is essential that you have the licence plate number of the driver, and any other identifying information.
For a driver to be charged with an offence, Victoria Police need proof that will stand up in court (for example, a witness). If the offender is charged and interviewed, then a summons will be issued for a court appearance. At that point the bike rider may have to appear in court.
For most non-accident related instances of harassment, the police may decide to proceed to penalty-notice the driver, or simply phone the driver to inform them of the problem. In most cases drivers are simply unaware or ignorant of the problem.
State Bicycle Coordination Unit
The State Bicycle Coordination Unit are also able to provide information on how police can assist bike riders. For more information, having contacted the local police station, phone 9247 5284/82.
If you are dissastisfied with the police response, Bicycle Network can help.