Irate Drivers and Irritating Cyclists
Drivers, do you hate cyclists? Does it enrage you when you see a bicycle riding on “your” road? Isn’t it annoying how that cyclist is cycling in the middle of the lane? Don’t you just want that cyclist to be gone? For a lot of people, the answer to all these questions is yes, but why? Have you had a run in with a cyclist that has left you bitter and twisted? For the majority of people, the answer this time will be no, but still there is some ingrained hatred for the individual on two wheels. Most are unlikely to have had any real issues with them and yet, due to issues regarding “common cyclist behaviours” that they have read or heard about, their attitude towards the cyclist is negative.
You have all heard the common complaints about cyclists from drivers, yet the hypocrisy is staggering:
People complain cyclists wait in front of solid white lines; I see cars do this every day.
People complain cyclists hog the road; I see cars do this every day.
People complain cyclists don’t indicate; I see cars not indicating every day.
People complain cyclists go through red lights; I see cars do this every day.
People complain cyclists don’t give their pedestrians priority at crossings; I see cars not giving priority to pedestrians every day.
The devil on a bicycle: How most people see cyclists
A further argument is that cyclists are wild, take unnecessary risks and perform dangerous manoeuvres putting others, particularly pedestrians, at risk, yet how many of you can honestly say you’ve never broken the speed limit? This accounts to dangerous driving. Furthermore, how many times have you used your phone while driving? Remember, even just the once is one time too many. Driven without your seatbelt? Failed to give way? Taken to the wheel while (even mildly) intoxicated? The double standards of drivers are unreal, and pedestrians can’t escape this label either. Complaints of cyclists on pavements are endless but I encounter bikeless individuals on the bicycle path on a daily basis. And how many of you have stepped out into the road to cross before looking? I have to swerve around these individuals daily while I regularly see pedestrians scuttling across the road with just seconds to spare before getting hit by an oncoming vehicle. Everyone is guilty of indiscretions at some point, yet it is the cyclist who pays the heaviest price. Why?
I think the main reason is that all cyclists are grouped together. There are drivers who break the rules but they are categorised as a select few bad drivers; because of the select few people on bicycles who break the rules, we are all categorised as law breakers. Ridiculous sensationalist headlines from pathetic tabloid papers do nothing to help the matter either. And the problem stems not only from what these individuals do wrong, but also from the way all people riding a bike are classified as cyclists; a rebellious youth on a mountain bike is not a cyclist, yet if he acts anti-socially by mounting the curb, he is a lycra lout cyclist who is a menace to society (note the antisocial “cyclist” mounting the curb in the picture isn’t even wearing lycra). Lycra clad cyclists on elite road bikes aren't the same as pot smoking teenagers on BMXs, but they get categorised as one and the same. And one lycra clad cyclist isn’t the same as the next either. We are all individuals and should be treated as such.
A typically sensationalist headline that generalises individuals and incites anti-cyclist hatred
There have been numerous occasions on which I have been verbally abused by drivers, been hooted at or even hemmed in purposely by a car for the simple reason that I was cycling on the road, not for breaking any rules or cycling recklessly, because I obey the rules of the road. On one occasion, I was even physically knocked off my bicycle by a car while I was waiting at a red light in the designated bicycle waiting area because some guy in his Jaguar didn’t want to “share the road with a bearded c@nt like [me]”. Said gentlemen accelerated into me, then proceeded to drive through the red light and away at excess speed. So I feel I have every right to harbour a grudge towards drivers, but I don’t, because I don’t generalise and neither should anyone else. I am not justifying the rules that certain cyclists break in any way, and I don’t want any sympathy, I just want people to assess each cyclist and situation differently. After all, it may be a law abiding father of six who has every right to be on the road who pays the price in the heaviest way simply because someone thinks he shouldn’t be on the road. Just because you see someone on a bicycle, it does not mean they will break the rules and should be driven off the road. Remember, not all of us are rule breakers and there is a big difference between a cyclist and someone who rides a bike (something I will be discussing in a future post) and just like in life, every person should be judged individually.