We can share the road

If you read this blog or follow me on twitter, you’re probably aware that I’m a cyclist. Like most cyclists I own and drive a car, but my preferred mode of transport is the humble bicycle.

“But why?” You don’t ask.

Mostly because I’m insufferable and self-righteous. But also because it keeps me fit and gets me out of the house (where the kids also live). The freedom enjoyed by the cyclist is what drives us on.

What also drives us on is the attitudes of drivers. Drivers who honk and shout obscenities because we have the temerity to attempt to share the road with them.

Like I said, I’m also a motorist. Every day I do the commute and every night I’m ferrying the kids around to swimming, tennis or some other activity. Yet whenever I come across a cyclist, I slow down, wait, and make sure I give them plenty of space when I pass. And you know what? I seem to get around and do what I need to do pretty much okay.

I don’t need to hurl a load of abuse at other road users. I don’t need to buzz cyclists to scare the living bejesus out them. Because I am sane enough to realise that these cyclists are wives, husbands, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and children. They’re not just obstructions — they’re people. They have a place to go, and people to go home to.

When you buzz a cyclist, you risk ripping the heart out of a family. Denying a little girl her daddy, or stealing a son or daughter from a loving parent. Is it worth it?

Is sharing the road really that much of an inconvenience?

It’s because of this animosity that cyclists are so uppity. Cyclists don’t want to be at war with motorists. We just want to ride without the BS and grief that’s handed out to us daily.

There are of course douchebag cyclists. But there are also many many douchebag motorists that treat every interaction on the road as some sort of contest. For every cyclist you saw jump a light, think about all the drivers who cut you up at a junction, or rear up behind you on the outside lane when you’re overtaking a lorry at 70mph — aggressively looking to push you out of the way, or pressuring you to match their law-breaking speed. People are dicks… it’s not a matter of dick-cyclists or dick-drivers.

What exact privileges do you think being a driver gives you?

You sat a couple of short tests that “prove” that you have some basic control of a vehicle and a passing familiarity with the highway code. Then you’re allowed to operate a tonne of steal at speeds where if you hit another human being, he or she is near vaporised. Bicycle on pedestrian fatalities are rare. Bicycle on driver fatalities are near impossible.

So after sitting a ridiculously easy driving test, do you really expect a cyclist to sit a similar test? Tell you what… I will happily support compulsory cycling proficiency testing, if drivers are subject to the sort of testing that weeds out bad drivers, and ensures only the most “proficient” drivers are allowed to use the roads.

Let’s be generous and say that the driving exams are only once every 3-years. I mean, you’re operating a potential killing machine… we need to be super careful, no? We all want safe and efficient roads, yes?