Tuesday 9 May 2017

Is it OK to ram cyclists?

These events tend to come along in little clusters, rather like when Wiggo and Shane Sutton were both hit by drivers in the same week. I know, its just coincidence, but the world does sometimes seem to work that way.

This time we've got two (alleged) incidences of people being intentionally rammed by people using motor vehicles. The first is the widely shared story of a cyclist being side-swiped by a van driver. The situation is simple enough - there's a double white line down the middle of the road on a wide, sweeping and actually quite blind bend. A cyclist has (correctly) taken a prominent position in the lane, and a van driver behind seems to sound a horn while getting far, far too close behind the cyclist. As the double white line becomes a single white line (with dashes on his side of the road) the cyclist is seen to be looking to find space to move aside and let the van go, but the close proximity and subsequent dangerous overtake accompanied by side-swipe at the cyclist from the van driver make that impossible. The cyclist is riding according to the law and good cycling practice as published by the Department for Transport in Cyclecraft on a road which anyone who's taken cycling training would recognise is a model for where primary positioning should be employed. And, of course, even if the cyclist had been in the wrong it is unarguable that punishing him through a collision with a freaking van is not proportionate to anything he's done - thats a potential death sentence.

The second is of a far more prominent cyclist - three times Tour de France winner and twice Olympic medallist Chris Froome.

This is of course still an 'allegedly' - the state of the bike there is pretty damn incriminating of course (something like ten to twelve grand plus of damage to that top end bike), but even though he's a sporting legend its one guys word at present.

So how has the world responded to these events? It is, as ever, mixed. There are many cyclists who are basically unsurprised and supportive of both riders, of course. Many of us have had similar incidents, and its always an uphill battle to get anyone to believe you unless you've got video footage. Bue everone else who's not a cyclist? Many are just as crap as ever.

Regarding the guy hit by a van, everyone from the BBC to fucking Godgfrey fucking Bloom have been having digs at him. The latter arguing with the Police who've been telling him flat out that he's wrong.

As for Chris Froome the internet seems full of 'I don't hate cyclists but...' comments aimed at him. People telling him that if he knew how to ride, etc.  

This all goes beyond the mutual respect fallacy and into something more sinister - we're not looking at sensible, reasonable responses to colossally disproportionate use of force. There is no reasonable way to say 'its wrong to assault someone using a vehicle but...'. There are no 'but's in this scenario, its wrong. There is not a context in which assaulting someone using a freaking van or car is proportionate to any kind of perceived 'provocation' you hold the cyclist responsible for, and it is both disingenuous and entirely insulting to insist that there is any kind of equivalency here.

I could try to analyze this behaviour in the way no doubt dozens of other commenters and bloggers will. I could talk about the sense of entitlement that comes with motoring, the fact that cyclists behaving perfectly reasonably are viewed as social 'defectors' or 'others' so therefore the behavioural bar they're expected to leap over is ever so much higher than for anyone else... But I'm not going to. 

You see, no one could believe that 'but its the cyclists fault because he made the driver angry' is reasonable. The people making these arguments aren't coming out with a fair response to the situation, the're not giving a thought through analysis of whats happened. They're being positively sociopathic - to even ask 'but who's to blame?' when someone has visibly driven a vehicle at a person is to imply that for some behavioural faux-pas hitting someone with a van is a proportionate response. And that attitude isn't one thats amenable to rational analysis because its irrational and socioapthic. 

And thats my analysis of these bozos (and there are many of them) who believe that they can reasonably say 'its the drivers fault but the cyclist was in the wrong so...'. No. No. No. You sick bastard. You sick, sociopathic, bastard.

There's not a personality test before someone drives. If we want to make our roads safer, I think we need to change that. If you believe a fair response to someone irritating you is or can ever be to threaten their safety or even assault them, you need to be off the roads. We need you not to be driving. Nothing else is reasonable. 

1 comment:

  1. One time, I was in queue for a line to buy movie tickets when someone cut in front of me, delaying my purchase of said tickets and really being quite inconsiderate. My sledgehammer applied to the side of his head was his own fault and should have been expected. Also I think it might be illegal to cut into a queue.