Cyclists

Ok, it’s been a bit of a hiatus over the last few months, as my university exams have taken priority. But now that I’m on summer break, I have more time to once again dedicate to the blog. And what better way to start than to unleash all of my pent up stress and rage from my recent life. And what better group to receive this anger than the bane of every motorist’s existence, cyclists.

I know it’s becoming somewhat clichéd for motorists to complain about cyclists, but I fell as though I need to express my absolutely genuine contempt for the lycra-clad menaces on the roads.

I know I’m not the only one who harbours this anger. It is clichéd precisely because so many people feel the same way.  And I’m certainly not the first one to complain about this group. But what exactly is it about cyclists that enrages drivers so much? For me, I think it’s their attitude. Despite being the most vulnerable road-users, they certainly don’t act like it. It’s like watching the driver of a Gee-Whiz or a Smart car take on a truck during a bout of road rage. Physics is not in their favour. Yet cyclists take on motor vehicles as if they are in one and the same league.

Here are some specific cycling behaviours that I’m sure will be responsible for my undoubtedly imminent aneurysm.

Cyclists flouting road rules

I generally think that many road rules are overly conservative and create apathic drivers with terrible judgement. So seeing cyclists breaking road-rules isn’t really the problem here. Rather, it’s their hypocrisy in doing so. Cyclists often complain about how unsafe the roads are because motorists are constantly ignoring traffic signals, not giving way to cylists etc. And I agree – motorists often do things that create an unnecessarily unsafe environment for cyclists. So, for any cyclist to then go and blatantly flaunt those same road rules is simply hypocritical. The number of times I have seen cyclists riding through red lights and ignoring pedestrian crossings is astounding. Perhaps the onus for creating a safe driving environment doesn’t only rest with motorists.

Cyclists riding on roads well-known for driving adventures

Some roads are well-known as places for drivers to engage with their passion. Characterised by good quality surfacing, excellent sequences of corners and topped off with incredibly scenic views, drivers will travel hundreds of kilometres just to do some more driving along an excellent road. Having spent most of my life in NSW, my favourites include the Old Pacific Highway, Putty Road and Thunderbolts Way. But at least once, on each of these roads, I have come upon a group of cyclists, 2 or 3 bicycles wide, after having just rounded a blind corner or crest. This is very dangerous. The speed differential between a car and cyclist on this type of road is just too large to be even remotely safe, even if the vehicle is driving at, or under, the speed limit. Of all of the places to cycle, why would anyone choose to cycle on these roads? As if there are no other appropriate places to ride a bike.

Cyclists riding next to cycle paths

I spent a few years living in Canberra, a city defined by its abundance of cycling paths. But despite this abundance, it was on an almost daily basis that I would find myself stuck behind some idiot riding adjacent to the cycling path. Literally, right next to it! Level 1000 arrogance.

Cyclists frustrated by pedestrians

I’ve included this because seeing this happen actually gives me a great deal of pleasure. The arrogance of cyclists doesn’t stop once they leave the roads. It continues when they enter pedestrian friendly areas as well. I’ve seen cyclists furiously ringing their  bells and shouting at people who walk in front of them, even on footpaths. I find this funny because I see pedestrians as the cyclist’s cyclist. What I mean by this is that cyclists view pedestrians in the same way that motorists view cyclists. They are an inconveniently slow obstruction with little regard to faster moving vehicles. And to see cyclists get their comeuppance from something moving even slower than them is simply beautiful.

On a serious note…

Perhaps in the midst of this pointless anger, it might be worthwhile for me to make a constructive comment. I believe that one reason why many cyclists are comfortable acting so arrogantly on the roads is because of a general attitude in society (encouraged by government) that automatically places drivers at fault when incidents occur. In fact, many European countries have already adopted “presumed liability” which means that, by default, a motorists is held responsible for incidents with smaller vehicles unless the motorist can prove otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent – I’m sure that is completely consistent with the expectations of modern law and morality. And there have been calls for similar laws in Australia, as can be seen here.

Perhaps it’s time consider CTP and licensing for cyclists to balance the liability. Just a thought.

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