A tag on the forehead
I concede: there are morons everywhere, even (especially?) on the road. There are morons in cars and morons on bicycles. But here's an idea: how about we stop tagging each other as "cyclists" or "motorists" and despising those who have different tags?
The other day, on Facebook, I stumbled upon a video in which a young man shares his opinion on cyclists and how they’re the dumbest in the world, basically. The guy believes cyclists shouldn’t use public roads (since they’re made for cars, naturally), and that they should stay in bike lanes. Such a point of view is normal, I would say, since he’s right in a way: it’s true that most cyclists don’t use bike lanes all the time, for reasons I’ll explain below.
Just watch the video (in French) to get a general impression of how he feels.
What upsets me with this video is the reaction it sparks. Most comments posted in reply to the video scream of delight, fully supporting the guy’s opinion (which is fine). What’s not fine though are the threats and the obscenities flying around (always with stellar grammar), which all seem to agree that cyclists are imbeciles who should get smacked by a bumper. Twice if possible.
Aaaaaand that’s a huge problem.
You see, in modern societies, clearly there will be tensions between opposing groups. But really, between that and wishing a fellow citizen’s death simply because they use a different means of transportation is plain stupid. As if, as a whole bread fan, I wished white bread eaters would die for taking up space in MY sliced bread row at the grocery store.
Sounds ridiculous? It is ridiculous.
Sure, I know some people don’t have a choice when it comes to choosing a means of transportation. For many however, a car’s a luxury that could be replaced (or used along with) alternative means of transportation, such as the bus and the bicycle.
Cyclists don’t always stay in bike lanes and there are many reasons for that. As an example: when a car moves relatively fast, it moves a lot of air around. That air displacement cleans the tarmac of all trash that could have accumulated there (we’re talking about glass shards, screws, rocks, pieces of rubber, coffee cups, etc.). Where does all that trash go when moved around by cars? You guessed it right: in bike lanes.
I’m sure you can understand how it’s kind of a pain to steer through broken beer bottles and staples all while trying to not get hit by a car. Add to that poorly maintained bike lanes, blocked bike lanes (by city workers, pedestrians or worse, parked cars), “filled with water” bike lanes, but also cars driving by a little bit too close to be safe.
This. Cars passing by too close. It’s the main reason why cyclists “take the lane”, which means they ride in the middle (of leftmost half) of the lane to make sure cars will either stay behind, or pass them in an entirely new lane. No more “half lane passing”. Much better than feeling a mirror 2 inches away from your ear. Security trumps the law, in that case.
Another thing: while moving around (either on a bike, on the bus or in a car, because yes, most cyclists also drive cars sometimes), I noticed that in most cars there’s only one person sitting. It’s a lot of wasted space, space that could be saved by using alternative means of transportation. But, as I wrote above, some people actually have to use a car to get around. As for those who don’t?
How about you just try something new.
Just one day. Y’know, a sunny day. Something like a day in fall, with a comfortable breeze. You’ll see, you’ll understand why bicycling is so much fun.
It’s 2015, people. We shouldn’t be insulting each other for such a small difference. It is unacceptable that we’ve let “cyclist hate” become mainstream, and equally unacceptable to hate on motorists for the sole reason that they’re just that, motorists. As if being sitting in a heavy metallic box was a FastPass to hitting a few cyclists on the way to work. As if riding a bicycle allowed to play the victim.
I concede: there are morons everywhere, even (especially?) on the road. There are morons in cars and morons on bicycles. But here’s an idea: how about we stopped tagging each other as “cyclists” or “motorists” and despising those who have different tags? Nobody is a “cyclist” or a “motorist” in life. Behind the means of transportation, I believe we’re all human beings capable of compassion and respect for each other.