As a motorist and ardent petrolhead, I understand how frustrating sharing our roads with cyclists can be. As a cycling commuter, I see the other side of this. Beyond the frustration, lies a truth, and it’s a truth that many car enthusiasts will struggle with.
As a driver...
In queues, they pass you on the inside, when you’re least expecting it. Sometimes they blast past you in the middle of the road between on-coming traffic. They can all appear to be reckless, Lycra-clad lunatics!
Why do they always come to the front at traffic lights, arrogantly parking their sweaty posteriors in your face, as though they OWN the road? Then, they saunter off, holding up the entire queue they just passed!
Damn it, they probably increase pollution, the rolling road-blocks that they are! They don’t even pay any road tax, FFS! Grrr, ruddy cyclists!!! Rant, complain, moan.
As a cyclist...
The trouble is, when I’m cycling to work, I see things from the other side. Why do motorists stop with their cars positioned so close to the centre of the road that I can’t easily squeeze through? They are so selfish, they don’t seem to consider other road users at all!
Sitting playing with their phones, ignoring the world around them, cocooned in their cow-skin clad, climate-controlled steel boxes, listening to Coldplay. Why do they jump out of their skin when I pass them?
Why do they have to blast past me as though they are trying to kill me with their nearside mirror?
Seriously, even some of the drivers with bike carriers mounted on their roofs, seem to be complete, well… dicks. They always seem to be the ones stopped in the cyclist’s box at the traffic lights!
Here’s the thing… I cycle to work for a number of reasons. 1. It’s a practical way to get some exercise. 2. I believe, despite the fact that I love cars, that there are too many of them on the roads. 3. For the most part, I enjoy it.
I don’t look down my nose at car drivers because I AM one. I don’t think I’m all environmentally friendly and superior because I’m also a motorcyclist, too.
The truth is, we need to get more cyclists on the roads over the next few years. Not just a few more, I mean MUCH more. I think we should be aiming to have more bicycles using our city streets than cars, vans or buses. This is the best solution for commuting. We decrease local pollution and increase the health of our population. It’s a no brainer!
Once the tipping point is achieved, motorists will be the minority and will have to treat cyclists with a little respect. They will feel guilty for using a car, when they could have chosen a non-polluting means of getting around.
Because I love cars
As a petrolhead, I would love to see this happen. I LOVE cars, they are my passion in life. I am fanatical about them, to the point of near obsession. But they are a terrible curse on the health of our children. I love to see a supercar blasting up the road, or a bunch of enthusiasts in some classic roadsters. I don’t care if they are polluting, I really don’t. They are not the problem.
No, wait. I hate cars
What I hate seeing, is queues of diesel SUVs (confession: I drive one), hatchbacks and crossovers, driven for convenience, by people with no passion for motoring. People who don’t care about cars. The sort of people who choose a car, based on how it looks and what the “infotainment”is like, rather than how glorious the engine sounds, or how many pots they have on their brake callipers.
Sitting in queues, warming their fat arses on heated leather thrones, as they crawl to their Zumba class, they are often afraid of driving. They don’t want the responsibility of driving. We must encourage those with no interest in cars, to get out of them and on to their bikes.
The solution won't be easy
I know cycling is a hard sell for some. It will mean arriving places in a sweaty mess, keeping changes of clothes in the office, being cold and wet, and putting yourself at risk.
It’s that last point that is key here. The only way to reduce the risk for cyclists is to turn the bad drivers into cyclists. Unfortunately, it is likely that the worst drivers are the laziest drivers and they will most likely be the last to change.
We must lead by example
That is why us enthusiasts must lead by example. Cycle to work, leaving the MX-5 at home, until so many of us are cycling that driving to work becomes unbearable. So unbearable, that even Vauxhall Mokka drivers would rather cycle! (Sorry Bro, couldn't resist!)
I hope other car enthusiasts will come to see things in this way. All too often on motoring forums, I read the traditional rants about “bloody cyclists” and how they should be made to pay road tax, etc.
I think enthusiasts should remember that the very popularity of the car destroys their enjoyment of it, not cyclists. The only way to make driving fun again is to clear the road of other drivers, and the best drivers to clear are those who aren’t interested in driving.
Let’s lead by example and encourage lazy commuters to get on their bikes!
Professional drivers take note. Fewer lazy commuters will be good for you too. It’s other cars that cause the hold ups, not cyclists!
Oh, and apologies if I do something you think is dangerous when I’m cycling. I promise, I thought carefully about it and considered it to be safe. Perhaps it wouldn’t have seemed dangerous, if you were using your mirrors to check for other road users, rather than to apply lipstick, or check out your beard. Bloody drivers, grrr!
Right. Rant over, I’m off home. Oh bugger, it’s getting dark and I forgot my lights!