Share The Damn Road – USA

My name is Phil Gaimon. I’m a professional cyclist for the Kenda-Gear Grinders Pro Cycling Team, a coach, a freelance writer, and owner of Share The Damn Road along with my business partner, Jonathan Ciaccio. During training rides, I’ve been honked at, buzzed, cussed out, and pegged with beer cans. When I’m victimized, if I can catch up with the offending motorist at a red light, I always try to talk to them. I’ll knock on the window and ask “Do you know that you almost killed me back there?”

I don’t yell or throw insults, but I try to calmly discuss the situation. I tell them that it’s legal to ride on the road, even two abreast. I mention that actually I was in a bike lane, and that I can’t ride on the sidewalk, because people walk there. Half the time, I don’t get anywhere in these confrontations, because someone just wants to yell and cuss. But often, I’ll get someone who’s a little open-minded, apologetic for putting me in danger, understanding that I’m just trying to do my job or get a workout. I tell them to have a nice day, and they promise to be nicer in the future. I think the victory was just from talking to them, putting a face to cyclists, and humanizing what might have just looked like an easy victim before.

Some of these conversations were so positive, I wanted to find a more efficient way to spread the message, and jerseys were the obvious answer. I’m often accused of making the car/bicycle interaction worse, as people think the word “damn” or the messages themselves might generate more anger. I think this is absurd. No motorist is going to read a jersey in a split second as he passes, get mad because you have an arrow and “3 Feet” on your shirt, and decide to honk or swerve at you. There just isn’t enough time to digest it and react. For the same reason, I realize that with text on the back of a jersey, it’s not likely that a driver will realize the error of his ways and give the appropriate space, or suddenly decide to be polite.

The goal of the jerseys is just to get the message out there. We’re treated unfairly, like second class citizens, but how can you be informative or send a message at all when someone just berates you and drives off at three times your speed? With Share The Damn Road Jerseys, they’ll see the message at stoplights, coffee shops, and in traffic, and it will make them realize that we’re people just like them, and hopefully they’ll think about it next time they pass a cyclist.

When you wear a Share The Damn Road Jersey, I’d like you to keep these ideas in mind. Obey the laws, don’t be a jerk, don’t make it two wrongs, and don’t give them a reason to hate us. If someone lets you in, give them a smile and a “Thank you”. If you get honked at, try to catch up and tell them why you have a right to be there. I think a slightly confrontational method will be much more effective than continuing to let cyclists get bullied, and I’ll sleep a lot better just for trying.