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Cyclist antipathy

Do some motorists dislike cyclists because they think our use of the roads is without a legitimate purpose? 

While we see going for a bike ride to enjoy an hour or so riding out as normal behaviour, do they see that as not a legitimate reason for using the road? If someone is dressed in lycra is this antipathy further exacerbated as they are clearly dressed for a sporting endeavour not for going to the shop, place of work, pub, friend's house? 

If cyclists were perceived as being on essential or unavoidable journeys would it change the perception?

I am not sure it would entirely but I do think there is a feeling among some motorists that cyclists lack legitimacy hence the repeated calls for Tax and Registration and Insurance. Then Cyclists would have to obey the rules of the road wouldn't they? I mean no car driver has ever sped, jumped a light, have they? People that behave less than well exist in every class of road user. 

I do think the advent of 20mph limits for cars will see cyclists eventually having to observe the 20mph limit as well. When 20mph roads were uncommon it did not matter but as they become more common I think it is inevitable. How they bring it in I don't know, speedometers on a bike fitted from new would have to happen but what about people like me riding bicycles built in the 1970's I do have a phone but I don't always have it with me or turned onto a bike computer app especially if I am miles from home it is then probably on google maps so I don't get lost.

 

 

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46 comments

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mattw replied to Tom_77 | 1 month ago
5 likes

That tends to be a trope alongside "hobby" and "recreation".

IMO it's just an attempt to avoid addressing the issue of travel equality, and the need to look in the mirror and ask some self-questions.

Marvin in H2G2:
"If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.”

or, if you prefer, Matthew 13:15 !

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 1 month ago
1 like

Two Good Books in one post!

I go for the simple explanations here. I think humans are big chimps (the mimic chimp if you will) with some (very impressive) icing / sprinkles on top - much of which is reuse of existing cognative / emotional abilities.

We definitely have to deal with "we don't like cheaters" and "in-group" (we're better / I aspire to be like x) vs. "disdain for out-group". I think that explains most of it in the UK. Cyclists are in the way, they're not us, they're a weird minority so I'll find reasons to say they're not good (lowering their social status to boost that of me / my group).

Media and politics are just big advertising boards for that - after all most people don't cycle so expect for "media interest" I bet most people only think about cyclists very rarely if at all.

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hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
11 likes

I don't think the angry drivers really think much beyond "cyclist in my way" even though their journey is mainly being delayed by all the other drivers.

I suspect that a lot of drivers feel very frustrated from driving in congested traffic and then see cyclists filtering past them, seemingly without a care in the world (I personally enjoy overtaking/filtering past drivers stuck in long queues). The lack of responsibility and expenses for cycling is also a likely antagoniser.

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JLasTSR replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
0 likes

Where I am it is very rarely congested traffic, if ever. Equally I never do any filtering. I still get passed at 60mph and less than a metre very occasionally, not too often though thankfully. By and large I cause little hold up and I don't break rules of the road.

I hear people say though how much they dislike cyclists and when I ask why I get told about: how it isn't safe to cycle,  how we hold people up, how we jump red lights, how we are there for no good reason, how entitled we are. Most of these know I cycle a fair bit, they all know I drive cars. They too are seldom in traffic except if they go to a biggish town when you expect it to happen. 

I do see in Cambridge some people driving and cycling that is just frankly dangerous. I will relate one anecdote from when I worked in Cambridge which perhaps illustrates the entitled bit. 

Three cyclists were travelling abreast up a motoring cul de sac which had another road the otherwise of some bollards that you could cycle through to access that road. 

There was a dustcart parked in the middle of the road while the chaps fetched bins and fed the back of it. 

The three cyclists were talking with each other. The two on the outsides split to go round the truck. Their friend in the middle never looked forward he did not deviate nor slow down but sailed straight into the back of the truck. Everyone looked aghast. 

He jumps up looks at his bike hurls it at the ground in fury and then proceeds to berate the driver and the entire dustcart crew for being in the way, blaming them wholly and squarely. The chaps on the receiving end looked at one another and tried to stop laughing. Is that an entitled cyclist, I think perhaps it is. 

 

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hawkinspeter replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
1 like

JLasTSR wrote:

Where I am it is very rarely congested traffic, if ever. Equally I never do any filtering. I still get passed at 60mph and less than a metre very occasionally, not too often though thankfully. By and large I cause little hold up and I don't break rules of the road.

I hear people say though how much they dislike cyclists and when I ask why I get told about: how it isn't safe to cycle,  how we hold people up, how we jump red lights, how we are there for no good reason, how entitled we are. Most of these know I cycle a fair bit, they all know I drive cars. They too are seldom in traffic except if they go to a biggish town when you expect it to happen. 

I do see in Cambridge some people driving and cycling that is just frankly dangerous. I will relate one anecdote from when I worked in Cambridge which perhaps illustrates the entitled bit. 

Three cyclists were travelling abreast up a motoring cul de sac which had another road the otherwise of some bollards that you could cycle through to access that road. 

There was a dustcart parked in the middle of the road while the chaps fetched bins and fed the back of it. 

The three cyclists were talking with each other. The two on the outsides split to go round the truck. Their friend in the middle never looked forward he did not deviate nor slow down but sailed straight into the back of the truck. Everyone looked aghast. 

He jumps up looks at his bike hurls it at the ground in fury and then proceeds to berate the driver and the entire dustcart crew for being in the way, blaming them wholly and squarely. The chaps on the receiving end looked at one another and tried to stop laughing. Is that an entitled cyclist, I think perhaps it is. 

Well, if someone doesn't spot a whole dustcart and crew in the road, then maybe even a bike is too much speed for them, though I suppose he probably learnt an important lesson that day.

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JLasTSR replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
1 like

It was probably why nobody yelled watch out to him. Everybody assumed he could not fail to see it. It was like a slapstick comedy. You could see it happening but your brain refused to believe what your eyes were seeing.
He was so angry with the dustcart and all the chaps working there. His front tyre went bang in a quite alarming way when it burst so that added to it.

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wycombewheeler replied to JLasTSR | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

JLasTSR wrote:

Three cyclists were travelling abreast up a motoring cul de sac which had another road the otherwise of some bollards that you could cycle through to access that road. 

There was a dustcart parked in the middle of the road while the chaps fetched bins and fed the back of it. 

The three cyclists were talking with each other. The two on the outsides split to go round the truck. Their friend in the middle never looked forward he did not deviate nor slow down but sailed straight into the back of the truck. Everyone looked aghast. 

He jumps up looks at his bike hurls it at the ground in fury and then proceeds to berate the driver and the entire dustcart crew for being in the way, blaming them wholly and squarely. The chaps on the receiving end looked at one another and tried to stop laughing. Is that an entitled cyclist, I think perhaps it is. 

 

cartoons would tell me the crashed cyclist would end up in the back of the dustcart following this collision and emerge with a banana skin on his head.

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mdavidford replied to wycombewheeler | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

...and a wheel round their neck.

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brooksby | 1 month ago
6 likes

Quote:

Do some motorists dislike cyclists because they think our use of the roads is without a legitimate purpose? 

That's a red herring, IMO.

Many motorists dislike cyclists just because.  They dislike cyclists in normal clothing with panniers and the shopping just as much as a club ride of roadies in lycra.

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JLasTSR replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
3 likes

You could well be right about quite a lot of them.

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CyclingGardener replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
10 likes

This. Cycling in work clothes, big boots and obviously carrying tools, I'm the 2-wheel equivalent of 'white van (wo)man'. Still get close passed/cut up, even by people in white vans!

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chrisonabike | 1 month ago
3 likes

I'm sure that's one reason.  The top ones I'm guessing are:

1) We're in the way.  Also - Schroedinger's cyclist - holding everyone up and going way too fast.  This points to:

2) Features of individual psychology - we seem to have low-level mechanisms for a) detecting "cheaters" and b) "us vs. them" / in-group and out group.

The first gets triggered by cyclists sharing the same spaces as others (road, shared use path) but not "playing by the same rules" e.g. on roads cyclists can filter ("undertake") cars and of course we "don't pay road tax" and ride through red lights.

In spaces shared with pedestrians cyclists can "cheat" by also choosing to ride on the road (pedestrians aren't going to walk there).  We are going faster for less effort and are reluctant to come to a complete stop.  (Cyclists are also fast and quiet - we maybe trigger an "alert! predator ambush!" response?)

Our "out group" triggers means that - at least while there are only a few "cyclists" in society - it's very easy to stereotype and misunderstand.  (This of course can affects anyone in some ways - "bloody BMW drivers" etc.)

On top of all that there may be cultural points - which may be useful for media / politicians to take advantage of which further shifts the dial.  So cars are associated with status / respectability / responsibility.  As you say - we have to drive; we're not doing it for fun you know!

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JLasTSR replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
3 likes

I agree with all you say, I just feel there has to be an underlying reason that is the foundation that validates some peoples' annoyance at the very site of someone on a bicycle. 

Motorcyclists do not seem to get the same bad press for example.

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chrisonabike replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
1 like

That's a good observation.  I'd suggest that motorcyclists are fairly rare (figures I can google suggest around about the cyclists making journeys mark - about 1% or so) so - like cyclists (outside of some culture war / media frenzy) - perhaps most people don't actually think about them much if at all?

Perhaps there is more parity with cars etc. - since "they pay tax" / "they have a licence".  Two other "niggles" with cyclists aren't there - motorbikes don't tend to hold up cars (so not "in the way") and I don't recall motorcyclists filtering on the inside, more overtaking.  Likely this feels safer on a motorbike than a bike.

On "conflict" - while it's true that drivers often fail to look for / see motorbikes ("Think bike!") I suspect they're slightly more visible than cyclists (mostly because lights).  Also they're a bit more chunky - perhaps that cues "leave extra space".  Maybe also less likely to mis-estimate their speed (non-cyclists seem pretty bad at doing so with cyclists)?

Motorbikes also come in different categories (also a bit like bikes).  I think the opinions and media reactions are divided between these.

Full power machines appear to get a pass / respect.  Presumably similar to cars e.g. "but licenced, insured, you paid a lot of money for one so that gives you some status etc." Maybe a certain regard for someone doing something "dangerous" dressed like a riot policeman?

Mopeds - definitely lower status (because seen as cheaper) but probably more acceptable again because "they pay tax" / "they have a licence".  And of course lots of these folks are more obviously working!

Yoof on scrambler bikes (or stolen machines)?  At least here in Edinburgh people have been injured and indeed at least one killed.  Sometimes gets into the local news.  The focus doesn't seem to be on the mode of transport so much though...

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lonpfrb replied to JLasTSR | 1 month ago
1 like

Motorcycling has changed a lot from being a cheap form of transport open to anyone into a high technology product mainly sold to middle aged men, excepting the delivery riders. Young people can afford cars so get pushed there by parental angst and conformity.
Electric scooters seem to fill the cheap transport niche of 50cc mopeds of old.

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JLasTSR replied to lonpfrb | 1 month ago
0 likes

It is still seen as an indulgence that risks their lives for a very limited thrill which is often bordering on reckless, and they regularly ignore speed limits. Apart from that they are fine. I have enjoyed a few miles on the back of a friend's Kawasaki many years ago.  

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