Monday 23 February 2015

The Girls and Boys of Cyclist Hate

Its interesting when a video like this one emerge. What does it tell us?

So, in a nutshell, a lady is walking her bike along and a stranger, a sneering man who hates cyclists, starts joking about cyclist deaths and for no reason gives the woman a hard time. He's a classic cyclist hater, probably a type 2.  He is unremarkable - on his way to do a job he thinks important but which almost certainly isn't, and willing to give the vast experience he's had thinking about cycling (about 5 minutes) to a total stranger. No doubt he has considered his hateful rants at greater length than he has the veracity of any claims he may make therein. He thinks he is funny - he isn't. Well, not funny ha-ha, but perhaps funny peculiar.

You get these sometimes as a cyclist - they'll wind their windows down and yell at you. They'll step off the pavement and walk straight in to you as you wait at a red light, then rant that you hit them when you weren't even moving. They'll corner you in a pub because you've got a bike hat with you and yell at you. They're normally men, they're usually not young chaps, and they're almost invariably got a self important air about them despite the fact that all they've ever done is sell crap to idiots or shuffle papers around that make everyone elses life harder - they matter more than you do, or so they believe, despite never having contributed a single original thought to the world. 

But online the picture is remarkably different - we do see these type 2's (and type 3's who are also normally men). But by far the most common online hater is the type 1 - the Brat. And more often than not this hater is a woman. 

Now I've talked about various types of cyclist hater before, and I don't especially want to go over this again. But I wonder whether I've been missing something pretty fundamental - why is it that the 'real life' haters who are, mostly, the guy above (whether he's yelling from the cab of a scaffolding lorry or from the faux superiority of a man educated beyond his intellect due to social class and privilege - its the same species) whereas the online haters are, to a great extent, younger women? Are we seeing the same hate phenomenon merely playing itself out differently, or are we addressing two very different phenomena?

Simply put, the question is are the older blokes hating cyclists for the same reason the younger lasses are? And are they merely expressing this differently? Or is the fairly well characterised 'othering' phenomenon I believe to be at play among the younger women not the same as the superiority complex men 'of a certain age' tend to display?

I dunno. I merely post this tea-break philosophy as food for thought. What do you think?

UPDATE: Is this the chap?
UPDATE 2: He denies it being him (see comments section in that blog). He's still a pretty standard cyclist hater though - basically a type 2 with unrealisable aspiration to be a type 5.
UPDATE 3: He's deleted his denial that he's the guy in the video. And the question. And a whole lot more comments too. I have no idea whether its him or not - the comments he's made are very like those in the video, and I am in no position to question his denial - for the moment this merely stands as another example of off-the-shelf cyclist hate.
UPDATE 4: He's deleted the post, and as far as I can tell other posts relating to cyclists.
UPDATE 5: After seemingly admitting it with some kind of strange justification thus he's now deleted all the contents of that blog. We've got another video showing what happened to provoke his response - nothing. Nothing at all. 

Saturday 21 February 2015

Daily Bread, Cambridge. Even 'ethical' shops don't get it.

I'm a regular at Daily Bread. They used to be quite big on the 'Christian' element of their ethics, which never really floated my boat, but they're not really emphasising that now and who wouldn't want to shop somewhere that offers value and gives a big chunk of their profits to causes like this?

I cycle there. Because this is Cambridge and that's how we travel here. And this is where Daily Bread falls down. Actually its more of a plummet than a fall. Here's the bike locking for what is effectively a giant warehouse full of wholefoods, conveniently located for cycling to from nearly anywhere in Cambridge.

Yep. Amazing, eh? Try to contain your excitement. Tesco do better than that. Budgens do better. Frankly, pretty nearly everywhere in Cambridge does better than that.

This morning, as ever, the exit from the shared use route from Kings Hedges rec ground was blocked by a Chelsea Tractor driven to and I suspect illegally parked in front of Daily Bread - getting out from there with a bike trailer was a fuss. You'll notice that there's nowhere in what laughably passes as a bike locking area to put a trailer, so I had to lock up on a low railing, in the long grass. For once, at least, I didn't step in any of the cat muck there.

When I got out of the shop I found I couldn't get the bike back out the way I came in, there were cars blocking me in there.

I raised this with the staff as I've done before- I've been putting this as a concern in their suggestion book for about a decade and it hasn't worked. At all. Even a bit. I've been asking politely in the shop for nearly as long, and after years of this today I found the staff there getting really rather defensive about it - its like they'd rather I just didn't ask any more. They've blamed lack of communication with their landlord, they've said the landlord said no, they've said its too expensive (so I dropped off paperwork for a free scheme they could have used), they've incredulously expressed that its impossible for people like -me- to cycle there because if you're buying as much as I am I must need a car (!), they've claimed that it isn't up to them to deal with the ethics of how people shop (a peculiar thing for an 'ethical' shop to say - if that's the case you'd sell the same crap as Tesco or Poundland)... In fact over the years, and years I've been asking for better bike locking they've shifted their reasoning time and time again. Enough. Enough. Just... Enough.

Sorry, Daily Bread, its time to call bull on this. You've done nothing to improve bike access because its not important enough for you to have dealt with it - its that simple. Helping to reduce the carbon footprint of visits to your shop isn't a key ethic for you so you've not done it. You've had long enough such that no excuse is reasonable. For pities sake, Daily Bread, there are branches of Waitrose who'll loan out bike trailers, and they're the most useless pile of environmentally damaging scum-buckets you'll ever encounter. You can't, on a decades notice, even give us a good place to lock up? This is nonsense. 

I want to be your customer way more than I am, but we restrict our shopping with you because its so bloody difficult to lock our bikes up there. You're losing trade, and you can't claim to be ethical until you support those who choose to reduce their carbon footprint as part of their daily lifestyle - to only favour motorists over everyone else appears to be a cynical facade of ethics, which I know isn't wnat you want. Please, please, please, sort it out!

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Does the GMB union hate cyclists?

Its hard to think why any trade union would or even could be innately anti-cyclist. After all, its hard to think of anything much more egalitarian than cycling - anyone can buy a bike, can go and ride it, it's cheap so its not something that is in any way exclusive, it's efficient, it's economical. Cycling has so many advantages, and they are not limited just to those who are fit and active (the reality is very different to that), it isn't restricted to by class or gender - its a wonderful example of something that brings us all to the same level. Very few of the mechanical or price factors involved in cycling make a great deal of difference in practical cycling, it is in every meaningful sense an  advantageous thing.

So you can quite imagine the surprise many expressed when they tweeted this alongside the claim that cyclists are killing tens of pedestrians on the streets of London, every year. This was, apparently, what cycling organisations do not want you to know.

Yes, that's right, your eyes do not deceive you - the blue text at the top of the PDF file there does denote a hyper-link to another document, and the data in the sheet gives us total pedestrian casualties, not those caused by cyclists. Even having been corrected thus whoever was manning the twitter feed for GMB professional drivers continued to defend this claim.

I and many others have covered cyclist on pedestrian fatalities before - and while any injury or fatality of any sort is unacceptable, you're around two orders of magnitude more likely to end up hospitalised in a tragic trouser donning accident than you are to be put in hospital by a cyclist crashing into you while you walk around. Lets get real here - you are 120 times more likely to be killed, on the pavement, by a motorist than by a cyclist. To assert otherwise isn't merely to misread data, it is to entirely ignore all other sources such that an assumed narrative where cyclists are the bad guys is backed up by, frankly, unbelievable nonsense that is out by many orders of magnitude.

But whoever was manning that twitter feed didn't stop there - having been shown to be wrong, the assault on common sense and decency continued first with a mindless defence of erroneous data...

...followed by lashing out and insisting that cyclists are dangerous and passively aggressively suggesting that those who pointed out the error are apologists for cyclists doing harm...
So we've got bland stereotpying of cyclists on top of rather stupid defense of data thats demonstrably wrong?

It gets better!

Arrogance? Bigotry? Christ on a bike, whats wrong with you? You were criticised for being factually incorrect - and now you've accused cyclists en masse of  all sorts of perceived social crimes just for correcting you?

Sorry guys, I don't know who was manning this twitter feed for you, but you need to do some things to correct this. Firstly, you need to take this person through your disciplinary procedures for publicly insulting people via. one of your feeds. Secondly, you need to get in touch with -all- of the people insulted or blocked over this and apologise to them, each one of them. Thirdly, you need to make a public statement regarding your full views on cyclist and pedestrian safety - and this needs to be completely devoid of all false and baseless accusations. 

And, lastly, you need to make sure you think before you open your gobs in future. In a nutshell, your august union has been brought in to significant disrepute - do you believe your members are better served by an idiotic attempt to declare war on cyclists by a rogue tweeter?