Let me start this post with a confession.
I have precisely zero idea who that guy is who rode straight through that red light in front of you the other day. Just like you don’t know every car driver who speeds past you on the freeway. This is a big country you know, around 25 million of us at last count. Chances are some of them apples are going to be, well, less appetising than others. But that doesn’t make them all rancid, does it?
‘Cyclists’ may be a convenient all-encompassing label for the mainstream media. But it’s a lazy generalisation, a provocatively sweeping simplification that gets thrown around far too freely, suggesting we are all exactly the same. We are not.
According to the website Psychology Today, ‘confirmation bias’ occurs when our wishes unduly influence our beliefs of what is actually true. “When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true,” it explains. “They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms their views, or prejudices.”
In other words, we humans are brilliant at seeing what we want to see (whilst simultaneously ignoring or filtering out what we don’t) and are very happy jump to conclusions if it justifies our personal position or argument. It’s a bit like saying all Muslims are terrorists. All tradies are cashed-up bogans. And all politicians are trough-guzzling arse coverers. Actually, maybe that last one isn’t the best example, but hopefully you’ll get my drift. I’m no more responsible for some twit on a bike running a red light or failing to wear his helmet than you are. So why treat me as if I am?
Repeat after me.
All cyclists do not run red lights.
All cyclists do not endanger pedestrians.
All cyclists do not treat the road rules with contempt.
All cyclists do not ride four abreast and intentionally block traffic just to ruin your day.
Summing it up, all cyclists do not do the wrong thing. Not even close.
If you genuinely think they do, well, you really need to stop watching Sunrise and pay a lot more attention out there, which probably isn’t such a bad idea anyway.