I spend around 10hrs per week on my bike on the road. Much of that time is during the morning and afternoon commute hours. I use a mix of bike lanes and roads to get to work, and I've interacted with a lot of drivers through the years - from those trying to scare me by toying with my life, to those being very friendly and safe.
There is a lot to say about cycling and driving co-existing. All I want to talk about here is drivers that act aggressively towards me when I'm riding my bike to work.
WHAT IS DRIVER AGGRESSION
I consider anything that a driver intentionally does that potentially puts my well being at risk is driver aggression. This includes driving within 1 foot of me purposefully (I can gauge this because the driver moves out of the way of other objects, such as potholes ... just not me), honking at me, yelling at me, flicking me off, cursing at me, swerving towards me within touching distance.
HOW OFTEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Driving within 1 foot of me purposefully - daily.
Honking or yelling at me - weekly.
Flicking me off or cursing at me - monthly.
Swerving at me within touching distance - monthly.
WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT?
When someone drives so close to me, or cuts in front of me, or makes any movement that makes me fear for my life, I shout "HEY!!!" or simply wherever comes first to mind that expresses "DON'T MAKE MY SON GROW UP WITHOUT A DAD!!!" When a driver does something aggressive to me and we end up at the same stoplight I ask them what the issue is, and either explain what I was doing or apologize.
WHO ARE THESE AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS?
Aggressive drivers can be anyone from anywhere - and they are. Some drivers are simply angry. They're angry at cyclists, angry at pedestrians, angry at runners, angry at other cars, angry at stop signs, angry at stop lights - if it exists and they're behind the wheel, they see red.
I commute through downtown Atlanta, and I think some drivers at that time who are angry are so two main reasons. 1. they've been in the car in traffic for over an hour - and that makes the best of us irritated. 2. they're not accustomed to driving with cyclists on the road - and dealing with something you're not accustomed to when getting to work to make a living or trying to get home to see your family is understandably irritating for anyone.
That said, there are many more drivers who are courteous to me, or who simply leave me alone.
WHAT IS THE REASON THESE DRIVERS ARE AGGRESSIVE?
Of all the specific reasons I've heard that drivers are angry about cyclists, they boil down to two reasons:
1. They slow me down.
2. I don't like them.
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
I don't believe there's a solution in the sense that there's something to do to change people's minds. What I think will happen is that as intown Atlanta becomes more dense, cycling will simply be a faster way for people to get around than driving is.
I work and live in intown Atlanta, and it's faster for me to get to work by bike than by car. If that becomes the case for more people, then it won't be a question of trying to convert Atlanta into a cycling town, it simply will be a cycling town (in the commuter sense) out of necessity.
In turn, that will mean that more people will personally know a cyclist. I hope this will mean that some of the drivers that drives so close to me that I fear for my life will no longer do so, because they wouldn't want someone potentially killing the cyclist they know.