There is a small but vocal minority of people who waste their energy vigorously disparaging cyclists. Unsurprisingly, many of their arguments are downright stupid. Here are the seven stupidest things that people who hate cyclists say.
#1: Cyclists should be forced to display license plates
… so that motorists can report them to the police when they break laws. Yeah, that would work – because we all know how well it works when motorists almost kill cyclists, and we phone to report them to the police, using their license plates. Basically, nothing. So I suspect that hundreds of angry motorists calling in to report cyclists would be totally ignored. Especially because most of the complaints would be along the lines of: “This guy had the cheek to slow me down for 41 seconds by being in MY lane!”
# 2: Cyclists should be forced to buy insurance
… that way, we would be able to compensate the thousands of people cyclists kill and maim each year, just like motorists do! Seriously, pay $1,500 a year for insurance when at worst you might run over a squirrel – I don’t think so! Yes, I know that once in a blue moon, tragically, a pedestrian is killed by a cyclist. I know this because it makes international news headlines when it happens.
Imagine just for a minute that every time a motorist killed a pedestrian, it made international news headlines … well, there would not be space in the media for any other news at all! People buy insurance because they have a need for it, not because people who hate them want to force them to buy it.
#3: Cyclists should be forced to undergo mandatory cycling education
As noted in #2, usually, cyclists don’t kill people; motorists kill people. In incompetent hands, cars and larger vehicles are lethal. That’s why there has to be mandatory education for driving cars – but not for getting on a bike. And if we did have mandatory cycling education … well, I can just see three-year-old Hunter having his training wheels confiscated, because he got on his Christmas bike without first passing the exam! That said, I do think it is great that more and more schools and organizations are offering cycling education. Such as Vancouver’s Kids on Wheels.
#4: Cyclists should be forced to use the bike lanes we have kindly made for them
And of course the implication of that is that cyclists should not be allowed on regular roads. Yes, that will work. As we know, every city in the world battles constantly with the problem that their police forces have no work to do. Unleashing their police forces on cyclists trying to get to work by taking the shortest possible route will solve that problem.
#5: All cyclists are scofflaws who ignore traffic regulations
Why is it that cyclophobes are so prone to becoming prejudiced against all cyclists, based on the (admittedly sometimes very bad) behavior of a tiny minority? Yet on the other hand, so many motorists break the law, every day, everywhere – but nobody ever gets passionate about scofflaw motorists? It’s kind of just taken as acceptable – much like driving-while-drunk was seen as part of human nature when I was a kid.
For some reason, this prejudice about being scofflaws is reserved for cyclists. But the basis of all prejudice is this: someone sees one person doing something bad, and based on that observation, infers that all similar persons will also do bad things. There is no logic in it; it’s just irrational and hate-filled.
# 6: All cyclists are unemployed, non-tax-paying, non-home-owning freeloaders
This is just ignorant prejudice. But to give the lie to this, just go into any bike shop and ask the price of that bright yellow name-brand cycling jersey … Not to mention the millions of people who are on their bikes because they are going to work.
Maggie and I rode our bikes to work for years, all the while paying massive taxes on our home and income. When we were doing that, we were subsidizing the roads for many of the motorists who resented us for even being on the roads. And this is true of millions of other cyclists too.
#7: Bikes cause traffic congestion
This one is from reader Alex P (whose Twitter feed I highly recommend). Really, this one is so stupid that it doesn’t even merit a reply. Let this picture tell the story that we all know so well – it’s transporting one person in 5 tons of steel that causes traffic congestion. Period.
I want to end this post with an eloquent plea for tolerance and mutual respect, extracted from a letter written by David Desautels to VeloNews:
“How about if we all just try to follow these very simple Rules of the Road? Drive like the person ahead on the bike is your son/daughter. Ride like the cars are ambulances carrying your loved ones to the emergency room. This should cover everything …”
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