It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I am a cyclist, I love cycling, and I use it as a daily way of getting around. Living in Oxford means that you almost have no choice. If you want to get about, you really need to do it on a bike. Otherwise you are at the mercy of various traffic jams, or just really heavy pedestrian footpaths. It is how I get around, I get my daily exercise, and how I spend a lot of my time daily. It is a way of life, a life style.
And with that pretext, I send out a simple message to all other fellow cyclists. Do not be rude, do not jump to quick conclusions, and by God, do not set automatic bots on Twitter and search for people talking about cycling, jump in with your judgemental brigade, and shout at people without realising their prior knowledge or cycling skill. Do not just assume that it is a car driver who is anti cyclist, and do not assume that anybody who has a run in with a cyclist or criticises cyclists has never been on one.
So, what happened then?
Somebody I know on Twitter, who is also a cyclist, complained about something relating to cycling.
Since I know the chap, I threw in a sarcastic ‘funnily enough’ and told him that what he complained about was perfectly legal.
We chatted about how at the end of the day, it is all about common sense and such like.
This is when suddenly a bunch of people all over Twitter started shouting at him. Since I had already been part of the conversation, I was included in a lot of the mentions. Of course, some of the abuse was hurled at me as well, because I had not been as harsh or as abusive as them.
Obviously, and I can see their point of view, what really got them all ‘sad’ was the fact that I mentioned that it is a shame when cyclists break the law, as it makes the rest of us look bad. Of course, this meant that all the keyboard warrior cyclists had to jump out of their pyjamas, put on their lycras, and pedal hard after me while shouting and pointing fingers, saying how my bad driving ass had no idea what cycling was all about.
‘But I am a cyclist!’
All I said was that I would like cyclists to not break the law, as it makes the rest of us look bad.
Of course, logic and trolls do not mix well.
So I will address some of the interesting objections made, and my responses:
- Cyclists never kill.
- True. But I have seen cyclists injure themselves seriously, over and over again. There are dangerous junctions all over the place, and often they don’t even bother slowing down.
- More cars break the law than cyclists.
- Not sure about this one. At least on my daily cycle rides, I see more cyclists run through red lights, not respect zebra crossings and once again, not respect junctions. When I stop, I often get surprised looks.
- Cars do not respect cyclists.
- Yes, and no. Depends purely on the driver.
- Cyclists are never aggressive on the road.
- I beg to differ. The amount of times I have seen cyclists shout at other cyclists, pedestrians and cars!
- Who would judge a big group based on the actions of a few?
- To this ‘nicer’ person, I mentioned the words ‘Daily Mail’. That didn’t click. So I am sorry, and I hate doing this, but let us just look at a group of people. A large group of people. A group of people that are about a billion on the planet. A small fraction of them cause some chaos, and in that process destroy their reputation. You may argue that it isn’t a small percentage, and all of them are like that, but as Adam Hills said, if a billion people were all evil, nobody would be alive on the planet. We still judge people belong to that group, whether they are good or not. Specially ones that look like them in a more stereotypical way. Video games have them as villains, and most films and TV series are based around them being evil.
So yeah, the point I am making is not one that wants to discourage people from cycling, or from supporting the cycling community. The simple point I am trying to make is that of acceptance. There are, like all groups of people, cyclists who will break the law, and are aggressive, and quite frankly take the piss. They ruin it for everyone. They do. Whether you like it or not. Shouting at people, trolling them on Twitter, or just being in plain denial just doesn’t cut it.