Thursday, 31 August 2017

1708.31 HATERS GONNA HATE

I wasn't going to write this post. I didn't want to wade in to the debate about the supposed danger cycles are to the general population. So why am I writing this? Well I'm just fed up with the hate that's flying around at the moment.

If you look through social media it doesn't take long to find someone, or groups of 'someones', that hates cyclists. Usually the hate falls into various categories; "they take up the whole lane", "cycling 2 abreast", "they don't pay road tax" (road tax was abolished in 1937), "they run red lights"... there's of course loads more. 

Hate comes hand in hand with cycling in the UK these days so what's the catalyst for this post? Recently in the news there has been the case of the tragic death of a pedestrian who was struck whilst crossing a road in London by a bicycle. I'm not going to comment about the case or get into the argument as to the court proceedings and verdicts reached. I'm not going to get into the 'who's to blame' argument.

Image: Cycling Weekly

This post is about the following backlash from mainstream media and the disproportionate hate levelled at all cyclists.

Terms like "reckless cyclist" and "mowed down" have been banded about by news outlets as well as calls for the law to be changed to deal with similar incidents. The incident was a tragedy and certainly avoidable, I don't want to take anything away from this aspect but the response has been disproportionate, harsh and to some degree the blame has been levelled at the door of all cyclists. Some publications has labelled cyclists as "reckless" and "law-flouting" but is this fair? This incident made front page news on most of the daily newspapers yet a horrific motorway crash recently which 8 people were killed on a minibus that was involved in a collision with 2 lorries was relegated to the inside pages with little debate on the dangers lorries pose to other road users. 

This (the cycling case) obviously lead to a number of bandwagon jumpers on social media channels. This was quite nasty at times including wishing death on those of us who chose a different method of transport to the majority. 

Then the high profile media commentators started including Sky news pillock Adam Bolton with his ill informed bile filled column in The Times, Richard Madley's anti-cycling meltdown on breakfast TV to archaic radio DJ Tony Blackburn's nasty tweet. These are the ones that I've come across.

Tony Blackburn's tweet and
someone's witty comeback. 

So it is said that "sticks and stones" and all that. A few words never hurt anyone. What about a couple of tonnes of metal? As someone that has been hit by a car whilst cycling I can say that it fucking hurts! If a person holds anti-cycling views and is given a vehicle it is perfectly feasible that they will be more likely to be irritated by a cycle riding in front and perhaps subject that cyclist to a 'punishment pass', that is passing a little too close to subject them to undue stress and of course putting them in unnecessary danger. 

So I said earlier that the reporting of this incident was disproportionate. Here's the figures... 

As recorded by the Office for National Statistics, pedestrian deaths caused by bicycles have typically numbered two or three each year; those caused by motor vehicles around 400.  

Cycling UK state that around 98% of serious or fatal pedestrian injuries in urban areas (i.e. where pedestrians are most likely to be) are due to collisions with motor vehicles. 

The vast majority of vehicle-related pedestrian injuries on the footway/verge involve a motor vehicle, not a cycle: from 2005-14 (GB), 98.5% of pedestrian fatalities and 95.7% of pedestrian serious injuries that happened in collisions on a footway/verge involved a motor vehicle. 

There are a number of cyclist that ride like dicks. In the same vein there are a number of motorists that drive like dicks. It's human nature for a percentage of the population to act like dicks, no matter what they're doing.


For the record, I pay my taxes and therefore contribute to the cost of the roads. I also have 3rd party liability insurance provided through my British Cycling membership. I also own a car.

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