Cyclists Versus Car Drivers.

25/09/2012   |   Posted by jeremy


I was listening to Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime show on Radio 2 and the main story of the day was about the argument between the police officer on the gate at number 10 and Andrew Mitchell, and whether or not he called him names. But the debate that had seemingly gone on for days now suddenly had a new twist to it. It had now turned into a debate about whether it was right that Mr Mitchell had asked to go through the main gate accessed by the road rather than having to dismount his bike and go through the pedestrian gate on the footpath.

This in turn led on to another very heated debate about whether car drivers hated cyclists.

This is one of those arguments where no one ever wins, but everyone seems to get fired up about, you heard them all before and they usually go something like this.

 I have to say at this point I usually stop what I’m doing because these arguments as they develop always turn out to be very amusing if you stay away from getting involved or taking sides, which of course I should be doing being a cyclist. They seem to follow a similar pattern too.

 The debate starts with a very reasonable person, ringing in and putting forward their thoughts and ideas about what they’ve been hearing on the radio in a very calm and sensible manner, for arguments sake let’s call our first caller Mr Norman, a cyclist saying, it’s the cyclists right to go through the main gate because technically they are a vehicle and that under normal circumstances a policeman would reprimand them for riding their bike on the pavement.

Next you get a caller phoning up, let’s call her Mrs Cartwright, who instantly ups the tension by saying that the cyclist has no rights as he or she doesn’t pay road tax or insurance.  Mr Norman points out to Mrs Cartwright that she quite obviously doesn’t know the first thing about cycling and that he can assure her that with the cost of his bike he would be a fool not to insure it.

Mrs Cartwright comes back with “Ah, that’s as maybe, but you don’t pay road tax do you” and tops it off with” but then you cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road either”. At this point things are hotting up considerably as I sit back in my chair, cup of tea in hand chuckling at the free show I’m getting.

Mr Norman then raises his voice and tells her that he “always obeys the Highway Code” and that he shouldn’t have to pay road tax because his bike doesn’t wear the road out like her car does, he then ramps it up further by saying that he is much greener than she is.

 Mrs Cartwright is outraged at this and says “All you cyclists are the same, you think you own the road and the pavements, you’re a damn nuisance and goes on to demotrate what a pain they are by telling a story of how her 90 year old Mother was nearly knocked down and killed by a gang of bikers racing along the pavements with no regard for anyone.

The show host normally has to get involved at this point and calm everyone down and quickly puts on a carpenters record to sooth the atmosphere.

So what happened here is the same thing that always happens. It starts off as a discussion about a fixed topic but very quickly develops into a personal slanging match that has nothing to do with the original topic.

I guess what I’m saying is that there is always going to be this argument between cyclists and car drivers while they are sharing the same road. As this is what will continue to happen, then this debate will always go on.  Everyone has a right to be on the road. I would think that most cyclists are also car drivers and that when those drivers see a cyclist they will usually give them a little consideration. You are always going to get some car drivers that hate cyclists, why exactly this should be or why they get so frustrated with us God only knows.

 I think it’s partly to do with the fact that we are slower than they are. In a car it is all about personal space and it’s very easy to have an opinion on somebodies driving style and we all know that road rage is quite common. But I don’t think I’ve seen bike rage.

I haven’t for instance seen someone on a bike chase after another cyclist over take them and then slow down to make them brake hard, or try and catch them at the lights to give them a piece of their mind after being cut up by them. This would seem ridiculous.

If you are riding on the road just take care of yourselves. We are lucky in the cycling community that for the most part we all pretty much look out for each other.