Oct 25, 2002 4:11 AM
Why I hate cyclists
Friday October 25, 2002
There exists, in California, a startlingly rare insect. The Ohlone tiger beetle is found in just five locations, all areas of less than two hectares within Santa Cruz county. The beetles emerge for two months every year to mate and feed, and, for some reason, they choose to mate and feed on trails through grass. That has created a problem, however, because these trails are hugely popular with local cyclists. Mountain bikers are now believed to be the single greatest threat to the survival of this species as they squish and squash their way through the beetle population.
The Ohlone tiger beetle has been given federal protected status, and signs have been posted alongside many of its favourite trails, expressly banning cycling. But guess what? The cyclists don't care. "If this beetle is only found in five places, maybe it's no longer viable as a species. If the beetle's going to survive, it's going to have to change its habits," one irate cyclist told a local paper, the Santa Cruz Metro.
And there you have it, the perfect summation of the cycling mindset: no, I won't change. I'll ride wherever I want. You can't stop me. So a species faces extinction? I'm meant to walk my bike for that? Get out of here! None of which is news to pedestrians.
In all the kerfuffle over who should be liable for road accidents involving bikes - cyclists or motorists - one group, the most vulnerable of all, was forgotten: the foot-soldiers of urban transport, the walkers. And many of us are sick to the back teeth of the sickos on cycles who turn any walk though a city into a navigational nightmare.
What hazards do we face? Cyclists who decide a one-way system is too much hassle for them, and take to the pavement instead. Cyclists who decide the traffic light system is for guidance only - red means go, unless there is a clear and present danger to the cyclist's safety; amber just means go - regardless of whether pedestrians are crossing the road. Cyclists who appear to believe zebra crossings are only designed to compel cars to stop. Cyclists who decide No Cycling signs on park paths don't apply to them.
It's easy to work out why the victimisation - and that is what it is - of pedestrians by cyclists is ignored. We are not as vulnerable to cyclists as they are to motorists. We don't get killed when we are hit by cyclists, and rarely are we hospitalised. In 1998, the last year for which casualty rates have been compiled, fewer than 100 pedestrians required hospital treatment after collision with cyclists.
But that doesn't mean recklessly ploughing through crowds of pedestrians is acceptable, or that hitting them doesn't really matter. I could put a drawing pin on your seat every day for a year, which would cause you pain and drive you wild with anger, but it wouldn't necessitate your seeing a doctor. That's how many urban pedestrians feel about cyclists: we are at the end of our collective tether. We want only to be able to cross the road when the little man is on green, and to walk on our designated paths without the risk of being knocked to the ground. But cyclists will not grant us that courtesy.
Naturally, they all deny their guilt. All regular bike riders condemn "kamikaze cyclists" who "give the rest of us a bad name". In fact, finding a cyclist who admits to wilfully ignoring the rules of the road is as difficult as finding a white South African who will admit to having supported apartheid. "No mate, not me. Never do a thing like that. Terrible."
Even when caught red-handed, cyclists simply attack. Twice on a recent Sunday, I pointed out to cyclists riding along a pedestrian-only path in my local park that they were in the wrong. On neither occasion did I swear. On both I was told to "f off", once by an elderly woman, once by a yo
|re: anti-cycling article - continued||MJ|
Oct 25, 2002 4:12 AM
|Even when caught red-handed, cyclists simply attack. Twice on a recent Sunday, I pointed out to cyclists riding along a pedestrian-only path in my local park that they were in the wrong. On neither occasion did I swear. On both I was told to "f off", once by an elderly woman, once by a young woman who told me she was "nowhere near your f-g child". Maybe so, but that's not the point: the point is I should be free to let my two-year-old daughter walk on pedestrian paths without worrying that she might be hit by a bike rider.
Cyclists' arrogance towards pedestrians stems, I think, from the moral high ground they have seized in their battle with motorists. Compared with urban drivers of sports utility vehicles, riders are paragons of environmentally friendly safety. And they think they retain that status no matter what they do. But we walkers are less dangerous - the only person who might end up in A&E when a pedestrian walks across a road against the lights is that pedestrian - and we are even more environmentally friendly.
The most depressing aspect of the clash between cyclists and pedestrians is the animus it is generating on the part of the latter. A fellow walker told me: "If I saw a cyclist get knocked down and hurt because they'd ignored a set of lights, I wouldn't care." I feel the same, no matter how wrong and appalling it is to do so. But, riders, you brought it on yourselves.
|Dude, you may have to cancel your subscription.||Sintesi|
Oct 25, 2002 4:39 AM
|The guardian launches a silly broadside against li'l innocent cyclists? What is the world coming to? Did they finally exhaust themselves coming up with articles that sarcastically skewer Bush? This does not bode well.|
|I know - but I'll weather the storm :-) - nm||MJ|
Oct 25, 2002 4:41 AM
|I work for the guardian||scruffyduncan|
Oct 25, 2002 5:38 AM
|This isn't the first time. I'll go and find him|
|Oooh! Oooh!||Eager Beagle|
Oct 25, 2002 5:44 AM
|Can you post the pictures of when you do? Ah go on go on go on go on go on....|
|ask him to respond to my email - or give||MJ|
Oct 25, 2002 6:00 AM
|some editorial space to the counterpoint|
|Can't hide your heads in the sand||Uncle Tim|
Oct 25, 2002 5:47 AM
|This article raises some interesting issues, but I am not convinced that they are easily connected.
If a certain group of mountain bikers is harming the environment and endangering species, then this has to be dealt with. These cyclists would have to own up to their level of responsibility, an ethical standard that should apply equally to any group (ATV riders, dune buggy racers, motorcyclists).
I am not sure how the cyclists vs. pedestrian issue connects to the environmental damage issue, but again the author has a point. Lots of cyclists do lots of stupid things every day. That's a tougher issue, though, since how can society expect the responsible cyclist to be held accountable for the actions of a foolish cyclist (running red lights, riding against traffic, buzzing pedestrians, etc.)?
I deal with this by criticizing both groups. If you are mountain biking and tearing things up, you are in the wrong. The "leave no trace" principle applies. If you are riding on the roads and you act as though you own the road and can do as you please, then you are in the wrong.
In both cases, you are making us all look bad.
Oct 25, 2002 6:05 AM
|lots of people do lots of stupid things - if I counted the number of stupid things I see people do in cars, or walking or sitting on the tube - I could make any number of broad sweeping inaccurate allegations
I don't think bad drivers label me as part of a dangerous group of people anymore than bad cyclists do
I refuse to be lumped together with the herd or take any responsibility for the actions of idiots
Oct 25, 2002 6:23 AM
Oct 25, 2002 6:28 AM
|I don't know about the US, but here in the UK there is a massive talking up of the "threat" of cyclists who are out to terrorise innocent pedestrians and die a martyr's kamikaze death under the wheels of a blameless driver. I don't know why, but some people definitely see it this way.|
Oct 25, 2002 6:36 AM
|I got chased late last night on my way home near Newington Green - had two thugs in a souped up hatch back deliberately try and knock me down twice - they thought it was hysterical and were probably lit up with beer and drugs - cops didn't want to know about it as I didn't get a full registration number when I was trying to not be killed
|Perhaps word has got out...||Eager Beagle|
Oct 25, 2002 7:09 AM
|that you are the North London Bus Stop Child Slaughterer...|
|she was begging for it - nm||MJ|
Oct 25, 2002 7:10 AM
|They all are||Eager Beagle|
Oct 25, 2002 7:21 AM
|That women I ran down in Guildford hight street was a bitch - I had a swerve two or three times before I hit her, and even then she wouldn't stay down, I had to roll back over her throat.|
|one bad apple||jradford|
Oct 25, 2002 6:45 AM
|I can't believe how many times I have cringed at other riders on the roads where I live. Most of them are the 50 km per year riders with no helmets and riding on the sidewalk. The funny and scary part of this is they think they are supposed to be on the side walk when they can get a fine for riding on the sidewalk. Of course the police are to busy to had tickets out to these people but have time to hand me one of no bell one my bike when my voice lets people know I am coming better than any bell ever would. The clincher with riders like this is people in cars think because the majority of people are riding on the sidewalks that is where we supposed to be.
Education of these riders would save more lives than educating drivers. If everyone on bikes where on the road and not the sidewalk drivers would start to open there eyes to us and maybe share the road.
|I've always preached even punishment and treatment||kenyee|
Oct 25, 2002 9:50 AM
|I noticed the author didn't mention how much pedestrians jaywalk or just walk in front of traffic w/o waiting for any type of "walk" traffic signal.
Punish everyone evenly or the unpunished ones will have an ego complex and take advantage of the punished. Here in Boston, our great mayor just announced in an article how their "pedestrian education" (no tickets) program has been successful while the city cops are ticketing drivers for cars who don't let pedestrians cross. The pedestrians still jaywalk and walk into traffic w/o batting an eyelash. Looks successful to me :-P