Matthew Parris has come in for plenty of stick in his article, “What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?”
” A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Even in jest this is a little harsh considering how often this type of crime has been perpetrated in the UK (see here for a list). This may have been ok for movie stars in old war films escaping from the Nazis but do people really need more encouragement, especially in London, to hurt each other?
Others have already pointed out that this sort of “joke” aimed at people of disability, sexual orientation and race would be illegal, without further proof. In fact it probably is illegal if it could be proved that this article incited someone to do just that.
But why do some people seem to hate anyone on a bike? yes, some do go through red lights. But I have also seen plenty of cars go through red lights. A cyclist is more likely to hurt himself than anyone else – but it doesn’t make it right and I don’t do it.
Is it because some wear lycra? OMG, what a crime. Just like some women wore ponchos a year ago, but I never gave any of them verbal abuse, which I and many others get on the way to and from work each day, which is rich coming from drivers of Nissan’s.
Even in Sutton people shout at you when riding on a cycle path which is next to a regular path – often refusing to move. Also going down a one way street the wrong way, because, listen up drivers, in some cases there are signs that allow cyclists to do just that – don’t blame your ignorance on others.
All road users have a duty of care towards each other – and especially those in front of you. No one owns the road. Sure cycling two abreast is legal but I wouldn’t in London, that is just courtesy. But neither should drivers knock so many single cyclists over or block cycle lanes where we have them. I gave up counting how many times I’ve seen cars cut in, to turn left in front of me and others to save milliseconds from a trip.
It must be that the root cause of this is the frustration that most drivers feel stuck in traffic. I have felt it too, I drive but not as much as I used to. Seeing someone getting where they want to, with less effort, stress, cost and at a predictable rate is frustrating especially if your late or need the loo. The anger can rise when someone glides past, through heavy traffic off into the sucset (or sunrise). I have been in both positions, like so many people who ride to work.
Instead of getting angry, why not get a bike? Most cyclists don’t feel smug – they just made the choice to leave the car at home and avoid overcrowded public transport.
And remember, those are people, not cyclists. They have families, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters – so try not to kill us.
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