War of attrition: Cyclists and drivers in Brisbane
There’s been a recent spate of articles in my local rag talking up a warlike rhetoric between cyclists and drivers on Brisbane roads. The tone of the debate is disgusting – with people on both sides slinging mud and insults and even death threats.
- Motorist claims he was threatened by group of cyclists during road rage incident in Brisbane.
- Cyclists have hit back at claims they bullied and threatened a Brisbane business owner after a morning confrontation.
It does make me wonder why road sharing issues, particularly in Brisbane, spark so much hate. As this interesting article of on the psychology of hating cyclists ponders in response those who publicly threaten to run over cyclists states: “This kind of sentiment would people locked up if directed against an ethnic minority or religion.”
I’ll confess that I probably shared similar sentiments to the hate-filled drivers a few years back, before I regularly started cycling to and from work. And while I don’t lyrca-up, nor even have to ride on busy roads thanks to being fortunately close to a bike path, there is a palatable sense of vulnerability while riding, where a slight mistake from rider or driver could be cause serious injury or even be fatal. As I write this, I remember the time when I was in my mid-teens, riding home from football training when a car reversed onto the road from a private property and sent me flying. Fortunately, it was at low speed so I was more shocked than injured.
Nowadays I try to be respectful of cyclists – give them enough room; watch out for them when I’m turning off a main road corridor, even keep my mouth shut when I see one of them break the moral code of the road. I don’t want to be burdened with the guilt of injuring or killing someone should I collide with a cyclist with my car. A cyclist is guaranteed to come off worse in these sorts of hypothetical events.
And this is why I really dislike the rhetoric of the articles I linked to above. Framing the ongoing debate about who should be entitled to use the road system in terms of conflict or a ‘warzone’ cannot end in a good way. It’s a slippery rhetorical slope – where drivers and cyclists can excuse their behaviour in terms of an ongoing battle or skirmish in this ‘war’. Morality gets thrown out the window and using such terms just encourages further misbehaviour by people on both sides.
Lose the war rhetoric and lets have a sensible debate.