Anyone who’s ever read an article about cycling will know that the comments section quickly descends into a cyclist-hating rampage, which is why we made the Cycling Bingo card above. Why not treat yourself to a game?
How to respond (some suggestions)
- Cyclists don’t pay road tax. Road tax was abolished in 1937, and was replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty. VED is a tax on cars, not roads. Roads are paid for through income tax and council tax. So cyclists do pay for roads to be maintained and improved.
- Cyclists ignore red lights. This is true, in that some cyclists ignore red lights, and they shouldn’t. Some car drivers also ignore red lights. The potential damage of a car running a red light – to life and property – is much worse than that of a bicycle running a red light. That doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but it should put it into perspective.
- Cyclists ride on the pavement. Some cyclists ride on the pavement, and they shouldn’t. A way to encourage people to never cycle on pavements is better cycling infrastructure. Also if critics were honest with themselves, they’d admit that cycling on the pavement isn’t really the terrifying scourge they say it is – it’s just annoying to see someone breaking the rules.
- Cyclists should wear hi-viz. In the words of one news article commenter, “The trend to high visibility clothing puts the onus on the cyclist (they’re doing the same thing for motorcycles, btw and the same comment applies) to be visible. That’s totally the wrong approach. It’s the job of road users to see other road users. If you can’t spot a pushbike, or a child running into the road, or anything else, then you shouldn’t be driving.” While hi-viz may increase visibility in some situations, but it also reinforces the trope that cycling is inherently dangerous, discouraging even more people from being active through cycling – which is a far more significant danger to public health.
- It’s illegal to ride two abreast. It isn’t illegal to ride two abreast, and critics can refer to Rule 66 of the Highway Code if they are in any doubt. Cyclists sometimes ride two abreast for safety reasons, because it forces motorists to “properly” overtake (i.e. by giving the rider a minimum of 1.5 metres instead of squeezing past him/her, a Highway Code rule that is often ignored by motorists) and also because it’s more enjoyable to cycle two abreast. And why not? Cyclists pay road tax too (see point #1).
- They didn’t have a helmet on. This is easily the most contentious cycling topic. Whatever your stance, wearing a helmet is not a requirement by any stretch of the word, it reinforces the idea that cycling is inherently unsafe (see point #4), and there are plenty of other non-helmeted activities that are much more dangerous than cycling – such as driving a car, or standing in a bathroom. Where to draw the helmet-wearing line? Some people choose to draw the line before ‘cycling’ and not after.
- Cyclists think they own the road. Cyclists do own the road, at least partly (see point #1). Motorists also think they own the road; they don’t, they have to share it.
- Cars need an MOT, so should bikes. An MOT checks whether a motor vehicle is safe to use on the roads, because vehicles are extremely complex and harness the power of exploding petrol in order to propel themselves forward. The failure of a motor vehicle to properly function can be catastrophically dangerous. An MOT also checks a vehicle’s exhaust emissions. Requiring bicycles to get an MOT would not only be pointless, it would be restrictive in terms of getting people out on bikes, which would be bad (see point #4).