Okay cobbers. This isn’t funny any more. Stabbings? Riders being intentionally rammed by cars? Full bottles being pelted from car windows? Supposedly mature adults publicly making light of life-threatening behaviour against cyclists as if we somehow deserve it simply for being there? I wanted to say a few things before any more innocent people get hurt or killed, because you don’t need to be Einstein to know it’s coming if current trends continue.
Look, I know there’s a lot of pent-up emotion towards bike riders in driver land, we all know that. We also get it’s very tempting and easy to blindly follow the trash media’s clickbait and be outraged as they expediently lump all cyclists into one homogenous group of self-entitled, renegade, law breaking, freeloading, lycra wearing, road toads. But seriously? That’s about as sensible as saying all motorists are lead-footed drink driving meth head bogans. It’s pure fiction. It is not ‘all’ cyclists, in fact it’s nothing like it.
Just because yesterday you saw some uni students riding without a helmet, or a Cadel wannabe run a stop sign (conveniently failing to notice any of the motorists who did precisely the same thing), or an overweight commuter in too-tight lycra do some other thing you didn’t particularly like, this does not mean we all do.
Despite the rampant influence of confirmation bias in this country, it’s never been more critical to fight the media-driven ‘outrage inertia’ and remember the vast majority of Aussie bike riders – tens and thousands of us – actually leave home and do the right thing every single day, just as most motorists do. Trouble is, watching cyclists do the right thing is boring. It’s not very sexy for the media. It doesn’t rate nearly as well. So let’s pump up the hatred, let’s focus on the minority and pass it off as the majority. It’s bullshit. It’s dangerous. It needs to stop.
Sure people make mistakes and poor choices, including cyclists, and when we do we deserve to face the wrath of the law. But I can assure you, beneath our lycra and helmets we’re just normal Aussies and all we want to do is stay fit and/or get where we’re going without being abused, threatened, rammed, maimed, stabbed or killed – either through simple carelessness or intentionally reckless acts.
Believe it or not we really don’t want to piss you off (we are acutely aware we’ll always come off second best in any incident), nor do we want ‘special treatment’ as we are so often accused of doing. What we absolutely do want is to be respected as fellow human beings, and to be safe as provided under the laws of the land so, frankly, our kids don’t end up as orphans.
If the thought of this overly upsets you, makes you wake up at 3am in a cold sweat screaming “pay rego!”, want to stab us with a box cutter, throw full beer bottles at us, punch our lights out or run us off the road and into a ditch, well, I’d suggest you have far greater issues in life than cyclists.
Come to think of it, you’d probably feel a whole lot better if you actually became one yourself – and you’re very welcome to join us.