DRIVERS VS CYCLISTS: DIGNITY WINS RESPECT

Posted on Categories NewsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cycling is seeing an explosion Worldwide, particularly in countries with very high car ownership, and thus a very car-biased culture. USA, Britain, Australia, Brazil, Japan…

Cycling is seeing an explosion Worldwide, particularly in countries with very high car ownership, and thus a very car-biased culture. USA, Britain, Australia, Brazil, Japan…

Car drivers are not happy, or comfortable with our 'sudden appearance' and demands for space, facilities and safety. So there is a clash.

I want to advocate that our fight for safety and respect should not be one of aggression, but of education and in the civil rights sense of the word, love.

Cars and trucks are big, weigh a hell of a lot and are hard. Their place in our culture is enshrined. To not drive is seen as strange. They are strong.

Cyclists are small, light and breakable. Our place in wider culture has been suppressed, we are seen as troublesome and we are not well understood. To cycle is seen as strange, a poor cousin to driving. We are close-knit, but overall we are weak.

Slow Sign

The Drivers Have The Upper Hand

 

We are not going to win a war by fighting. Through aggression. We can only lose. Aggression is the tool of the oppressor and is not the option of the oppressed minority.

But intelligence and dignity is. We should take our cue from successful civil rights movements and leaders. Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King advocated non-violence. They embarrassed their oppressors through their nobility and kindness in the face of unthinking hate. They gained respect and changed the world.

Now our fight cannot be compared to the violent oppression of nations and races. To do so would be offensive. But we can take our lead from those greatest of challenges.

As humans we are very permeable. We absorb ideas, emotions and feelings. We must be noble, kind, explanatory and calm. That is the way to be respected. And with respect comes understanding.

Its not easy. Having a near miss with a truck is terrifying. It makes me angry. I've lashed out at drivers, sworn, screamed, bashed bonnets. But I hated myself. All I did was polarise someone's foolish opinion further. If we care about cycling, then we are here for the long haul.

People are proud. We don't take criticism well. I have never gone nuts at a dangerous or abusive driver and got a positive result. It ramps up the encounter. No more. A temporary fix of revenge that becomes part of the problem, not the solution.

So put flowers in their guns.

Flowers in there Guns

A Potent Symbol

 

Smile in the face of thoughtlessness. Explain the terror of being cut up. Remind them you have family. Tell them you are scared.
We don't have a charismatic leader. All movements have an icon. A symbol that the media can latch onto and followers can seek inspiration from. In Britain the closest we have are our successful athletes and Olympians. They have done a great job for us so far, without meaning to.

Slowly non-cyclists are understanding us a little more. Each medal gains us a little respect. Every TV appearance or weekend supplement interview makes us a more integral part of the fabric of wider society.

Our fight is a long term one. If we love cycling we must show that we are the most respectful of people. The harder we fight with aggression the further we push our detractors away. We pour fuel on their fires.

There are so many new cyclists we have a constant flow of behaviours that anger and polarise drivers.

Red light jumping. Riding without lights. Not signalling. These are the things that make drivers hate us, even though their actions can kill, and our actions cannot. We must act as we would wish others would do onto us. We must educate. Lead by example.

Slowly we will get there. We must keep pushing in the media and government as well as on the roads. But our actions lend force to our demands.

Love the driver. Dignity gains respect. Respect gains change.

~

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *