Why do people hate cyclists?

One of the reasons, of course, is because cyclists are deemed to be “free-riders”, and don’t pay their fair-share for use of the road. This erroneous belief is easily batted out of the park but it’s mentioned time and time again in newspaper letter pages, newspaper columns and on radio phone-in shows. The BBC is hosting just such a programme tonight and is asking “Why do people hate cyclists.” Mark Ames of ibikelondon is going up against Keith Peat, the former policeman who hates cyclists with all of his being (his multiple twitter feeds attest to this and he also writes to local newspapers, sometimes getting banned when making insensitive comments about cyclists killed by motorists). [[EDIT: After complaints on Twitter and elsewhere, the BBC has now amended Tom Stafford's article: "13/02 UPDATE: We've changed a sentence in the third paragraph that readers said implied all cyclists break rules. This was not the intended implication of the original line, and we thank the readers who pointed this out." Apparently, Stafford is a cyclist and didn't mean some of the things he wrote.]]

{{A FURTHER UPDATE: Writers with platforms – such as blogs and columns hosted by the BBC – will always be scrutinised more closely than the loons who spout cyclist hate on Twitter or in local newspapers. Loose thinking is quickly pounced upon, and dissected to a degree that perhaps surprises the original author. This seems to be the case with Tom Stafford, author of the now-heavily-revised article which can be read below. To his credit he has penned a mea culpa on his own blog. “I screwed up,” he admits. “Unfortunately, I included some loose words in my article that implied things I don’t believe and wasn’t arguing.” Stafford added: “I should have been a lot clearer than I was…Lots of people thought I was a frustrated driver who hated cyclists. In fact, the bike is my main form of transport…For this article I was trying not to sound like the self-righteous cycling proto-fascist I feel like sometimes. I obviously succeeded. Perhaps too well.”}}

++++++

The first answer should be an easy one for Mark. If somebody hates a large group of human beings, that’s irrational and should be lumped in with racism and all the other -isms. The BBC wouldn’t air a programme titled ‘Why do people hate Muslims?’

Perhaps the programme is linked to a rather strange article on BBC Worldwide? It’s not available to UK viewers but I’ve cut-and-pasted a chunk of it here. [[Also now available, in full, here.]]

It shows that the BBC can commission an article from an otherwise sensible, sane academic who – one assumes – wouldn’t come out with this kind of loose thinking on other topics. Tom Stafford, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Sheffield, appears to be talking about prejudices held by others but it seems rather obvious that he shares the belief system he’s writing about.

Why you really hate cyclists

The psychology of why cyclists enrage car drivers. By Tom Stafford.

Something about cyclists seems to provoke fury in other road users. If you doubt this, try a search for the word “cyclist” on Twitter. As I write this one of the latest tweets is this: “Had enough of cyclists today! Just wanna ram them with my car.” This kind of sentiment would get people locked up if directed against an ethic minority or religion, but it seems to be fair game, in many people’s minds, when directed against cyclists. Why all the rage?

I’ve got a theory, of course. It’s not because cyclists are annoying. It isn’t even because we have a selective memory for that one stand-out annoying cyclist over the hundreds of boring, non-annoying ones (although that probably is a factor). No, my theory is that motorists hate cyclists because they think they offend the moral order.

Driving is a very moral activity – there are rules of the road, both legal and informal, and there are good and bad drivers. The whole intricate dance of the rush-hour junction only works because everybody knows the rules and follows them: keeping in lane; indicating properly; first her turn, now mine, now yours. Then along comes a cyclist, who seems to believe that the rules aren’t made for them, especially the ones that hop onto the pavement, run red lights, or go the wrong way down one-way streets.

You could argue that driving is like so much of social life, it’s a game of coordination where we have to rely on each other to do the right thing. And like all games, there’s an incentive to cheat. If everyone else is taking their turn, you can jump the queue. If everyone else is paying their taxes you can dodge them, and you’ll still get all the benefits of roads and police.

In economics and evolution this is known as the “free rider problem”; if you create a common benefit – like taxes or orderly roads – what’s to stop some people reaping the benefit without paying their dues?

So now we can see why there is an evolutionary pressure pushing motorists towards hatred of cyclists. Deep within the human psyche, fostered there because it helps us co-ordinate with strangers and so build the global society that is a hallmark of our species, is an anger at people who break the rules, who take the benefits without contributing to the cost. And cyclists trigger this anger when they use the roads but don’t follow the same rules as cars.

Now, cyclists reading this might think “but the rules aren’t made for us – we’re more vulnerable, discriminated against, we shouldn’t have to follow the rules.” Perhaps true, but irrelevant when other road-users perceive you as breaking rules they have to keep. Maybe the solution is to educate drivers that cyclists are playing an important role in a wider game of reducing traffic and pollution. Or maybe we should just all take it out on a more important class of free-riders, the tax-dodgers.

This piece is stuffed with half-baked untruths that you’d think a psychologist would spot from a mile away. It assumes all motorists are law-abiding and play by the rules (we know that’s not true) and that a majority of cyclists don’t play by the rules (stats show that it’s a minority who run reds etc, and let’s face it, when High Court judges run reds in their fast cars, doing 64mph in 30mph zones, there are no newspaper columnists readying ‘I hate all motorists’ pieces).

If the BBC wanted a psychologist to do a good piece on why *some* motorists hate cyclists, they should commission Ian Walker. In an interview in The Psychologist Prof Walker said:

For a long time I wondered if the outgroup status of cyclists was compounded by two other known social psychological factors: norms and majority vs. minority groups. Not only are cyclists an outgroup, they’re also a minority outgroup. Moreover, they are engaging in an activity that is deemed slightly inappropriate in a culture that views driving as normative and desirable and, arguably, views cycling as anti- conventional and possibly even infantile.
But even adding these factors into the mix does not explain all the anger that cyclists experience. It’s easy to identify other minority outgroups whose behaviour similarly challenges social norms but who do not get verbally and physically attacked like cyclists do: vegetarians, for example. So there’s clearly one or more important variables that we’ve not identified yet. Any social psychologists looking for a challenge are very welcome to wade into this.

The lack of understanding of the cyclist outgroup seems to produce measurable changes in other road users’ behaviour. A few years ago I did a study which showed that changing the appearance of a cyclist led to notable changes in how much space drivers left when passing the bicycle. The specific changes seen make sense given the small body of research on non-cyclists’ stereotypes of cyclists. The two extant studies – the Lynn Basford et al. one, and research by Birgitta Gatersleben and Hebba Haddad, in 2010 – both found that non-cyclists view bicycle helmets as an indicator of an experienced rider, and in my data we saw riskier behaviour from drivers when they passed a cyclist who was wearing a helmet, which fits the idea they saw the rider as more capable.

The positive lesson from this, I feel, is that drivers do adjust their behaviour to the perceived needs of the non-drivers they are interacting with. The problem is that they do not always understand how to read these other people and judge their needs.

It’s give and take out there, but some motorists are better at taking than giving. As we all have to share the road it would be nice to think common decency overrode these destructive feelings of hatred of one group.

Not all cyclists are angels, just as not all pedestrians (or motorists) are angels. But there’s zero room for hatred on the roads. And might is never right. Here, from another of my sites, is an illustration of why sharing a finite space (roads) sometimes makes people angry and full of irrational hatred:

"Get Off The Road!" Fougasse 1935

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

ipayroadtax toastie jersey

Road tax doesn’t exist. The ironically-named iPayRoadTax.com helps spread this message on cycle jerseys.

  • David Ludlam

    If you’re interested, my blog of the same title from November 2012:

    Friday, 9 November 2012
    Who hates cyclists and why?
    Well, here is the most studied and macabre blog I have done. Wiggins gets side mashed, Shane gets wiped out and is still in hospital, but, reports say, ok. May both recover fully.

    The fall-out amongst tweeters, free to express their opinions as befits a ‘free’ democracy has been extraordinary; not because of the volume of expressions, but the sheer hatred aimed at cyclists and the subsequent response of regular cyclists. Now there are many cyclists; lycra clad regulars, battling for their right to be on the road, and, judging by tweets below, a source of hatred for those stuck in combustion reliant machines. They don’t use cycle lanes/paths where progress is constantly tempered by an intervening road or pedestrians, but stay on the road because they have the right.
    Club members, who, overtly or not, understand their right to be on the road, aware that they are, by law, permitted to ride two abreast and be given a statutory width of clearance by CRMs. (When I learnt to drive, in 1977, no part of its assessment required me to consider cyclists. I doubt that has changed, but I await to be corrected.)
    There are casual riders, using roads and cycle paths/lanes, which I tend to do depending on my ‘you may be get hurt’ radar. If I’m going to work, a 34 mile round journey, I stay on the road.
    There are weekend riders, family groups, using existing paths to get to town centres, friends houses or quick trips for shopping. Well done http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ for that.
    My father, if you’ve seen earlier blogs was overwhelmed at getting a suitable bike to pick up his paper-he’s 84.

    So what’s the hatred all about?

    Below is a sample, only a sample, from one social media outlet; Twitter. I became aware of the vitriol from retweets that came from a common cause: @CylcleHatred , an account set up NOT to berate cyclists but to record any negative tweets towards cyclists. I would guess that @CycleHatred had no idea what was about ot hit him/her.

    My first surprise when reading his/her timeline was the fear from cyclists, the anger they felt, to such an extent that they stopped following him. The tweets they were exposed to were militant, ill informed and threatening.

    Firstly the reaction: this tweet somes it up:

    Andy Lulham ‏@SpongepantsLul
    #FF @CycleHatred for a stomach-churning view on Twitter’s opinion and sense of misplaced driver entitlement, and a fair slice of sociopathy

    And now a selection of tweeters whu had read enough:

    Garry Beckett ‏@Rockybucket
    mistake startin to follow @CycleHatred I’m just amazed & angry at some of the small minded, ill informed & downright vicious at comments!!

    janieface1 ‏@janieface1
    @CycleHatred I’m really sorry but think I must unfollow. These people depress me beyond belief. Too scary.

    stevek ‏@cycleoptic
    @CycleHatred sorry have just unfollowed, makes me too depressed to read the anti cycling misinformed rants.
    Paul Hargreaves ‏@forlodge1
    @Rockybucket I can’t believe some of these people are safe to be out in public tbh Garry @CycleHatred

    janieface1 ‏@janieface1
    @CycleHatred You also say drivers don’t try to hit cyclists. I’m saying some do.
    Unfollowing @CycleHatred because it just makes me plain scared. So many jerks out there!

    Headset Press ‏@headsetpress
    Just spent 5 mins reading @CycleHatred blood pressure up phew! Sad society where death by driver is acceptable just for riding a bike :(

    BN-GRNR ‏@BNGRNR
    Just started following @CycleHatred … it’s actually making me want to smash things/people up. Staggering how thick fellow humans can be.

    The shock is apparent from these cyclists. Why?

    Well here’s some tweets from some of our fellow humans:

    Dave Blair ‏@adam_blair
    RT @CycleHatred RT @richholly68: Cyclistshttp://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7994522038481409041#editor/target=post;postID=4674100769186853582? Try and keep yourselves off our white vans today yeah, just had mine cleaned ffs

    Warren Bridge ‏@beanjuice
    @CycleHatred just saw this on facebook. pic.twitter.com/hYDJUHNi

    Carlton Reid ‏@carltonreid
    BBC plays blame game by using duff cyclist red light jumping stats: http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/bbc-plays-blame-game-by-using-duff-cyclist-red-light-jumping-stats/013903

    The Mystery Man ‏@GuessWhoMan
    @EamonnHolmes Why should motorists respect cyclists? Motorists pay road fund so we own it. Cyclists are the stowaways of the road.

    Gaga’s Daughter ‏@AniLilmonster
    These stupid bicyclists on the street! Move out of the way or I’ll run your ass over. -_-

    o_O ‏@_shivvvy
    cyclists you cunts

    Jon Smith ‏@Bas3dJon
    God I hate bicyclists. Get a job.

    Courtney Feal ‏@CourtoFeal
    Almost ran over a cyclist ! Soo funny

    † BIG L ‏@livvygrundman
    Hahahahaha a cyclist just have me evils GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD THEN WITH UR GAY BOI BIKE. FUCKING CUNT

    georgie wingrove ‏@geewingrove
    stuck behind a fucking cyclist move out the fucking way you silly bitch

    stuart catt ‏@Cattmando
    Just see the passenger of a box van with #beckinteriors.com written on it lean out his window and spit on a cyclist! Clearly a class company

    In comedy we trust ‏@Incomedywetrust
    @CycleHatred oh nearly forgot fuck u. U stupid little twat. Please dont get hit by a car will u.

    Emily Badanjek ‏@emilybadanjek
    Dear bicyclists riding on Crooks, I want to hit you. Hard. Sincerely, my road rage.

    Jenna ‏@Beavskii
    Let’s ban bicyclists on the road. Or run them all over.
    Retweeted by CycleHatred
    HRJ ‏@garyjenkins1976
    Dear #metro no we won’t put cyclists first as they are a bunch of lycra-clad knobs

    Mackerel ‏@MorganDiss
    I hate cyclists, they shouldn’t cycle on the road #bikewankers

    BroomOwl ‏@BroomOwl
    @FutileRage fucking cyclists think they own the world mate. Pricks

    Jourdain Ng ‏@Jourdainng
    If you don’t pay road tax get off the road!!! Cyclists. Gad. #roadrage

    Ian Sharpe ‏@Sharpeydude
    Sick of hearing about how hard done by cyclists are..the only cunts on the road who get away with going thro a red light as ur crossing!

    alz ‏@_aaaalice
    guy on news saying reduce speed limit to accommodate cyclists FUCK OFF. 30 is slow enough as it is. prick. get off ya bike and get a car.

    Lucy ‏@northmornator
    Reading cyclists #fuckrightoff

    Stephen Connolly ‏@steNconnolly
    I could sit here and moan about cyclists all day. Spandex wearing Eco wankers taking up road space and making traffic slower! No positives!

    Jon C ‏@Jonnyarsenal
    There’s a lot of cyclists out this morning that want to be the next Bradley wiggins, and no, I don’t mean Olympic Gold medalalist!

    tony dutton ‏@ironcheftone
    The radio says I need to be more aware of cyclists, I say pay your fucking road tax. Twat!!!

    Lee Edwards ‏@ledwardio
    The most dangerous road users I’ve ever seen have been cyclists #justsaying

    scarlett newell ‏@ScarlettNewell
    CYCLISTS NEED TO GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD
    Stephen Connolly ‏@steNconnolly
    “British Cycling bosses want the countrys roads made safer for cyclists after Bradley Wiggins AND his coach were knocked down.” Fuck off!
    Steve Norton ‏@snorton82
    Maybe if cyclists rode single file rather than clogging up the road I wouldn’t feel the need to plough straight through ‘em

    Kelly Donovan♥ ‏@KellyDonovan_x
    Cyclists proper take the piss…

    Sash. ‏@SashaKerridge
    Metro – Put cyclists first. Erm how about either fuck off the road or follow the rules i.e dnt run red lights & they might not get run over

    Rob Osborne ‏@Robtheyid69
    @BBCNews Cyclists DON’T pay road tax, DON’T pay vehicle insurance & DON’T have to sit a test therefore, SHOULDN’T be allowed on public roads

    Skunk on Fire☺ ‏@JadeyRae
    Cyclists piss me off.

    And the results?:

    squirtlebutt ‏@theongreyjoying
    One day I’m gonna run over a cyclist and I just don’t care

    North West Tonight ‏@BBCNWT
    Cyclist knocked unconscious when missile thrown through window of passing car in #Bryn near #Wigan

    My conclusion: I went for a ride, I was, as ever, sensitive, alert and respectful of other road users. One car of ‘modern yoof’ slammed their horn on as I passed them awaiting to come out of a side road. Not the first time to be honest.

    Friday, 9 November 2012
    Who hates cyclists and why?
    Well, here is the most studied and macabre blog I have done. Wiggins gets side mashed, Shane gets wiped out and is still in hospital, but, reports say, ok. May both recover fully.

    The fall-out amongst tweeters, free to express their opinions as befits a ‘free’ democracy has been extraordinary; not because of the volume of expressions, but the sheer hatred aimed at cyclists and the subsequent response of regular cyclists. Now there are many cyclists; lycra clad regulars, battling for their right to be on the road, and, judging by tweets below, a source of hatred for those stuck in combustion reliant machines. They don’t use cycle lanes/paths where progress is constantly tempered by an intervening road or pedestrians, but stay on the road because they have the right.
    Club members, who, overtly or not, understand their right to be on the road, aware that they are, by law, permitted to ride two abreast and be given a statutory width of clearance by CRMs. (When I learnt to drive, in 1977, no part of its assessment required me to consider cyclists. I doubt that has changed, but I await to be corrected.)
    There are casual riders, using roads and cycle paths/lanes, which I tend to do depending on my ‘you may be get hurt’ radar. If I’m going to work, a 34 mile round journey, I stay on the road.
    There are weekend riders, family groups, using existing paths to get to town centres, friends houses or quick trips for shopping. Well done http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ for that.
    My father, if you’ve seen earlier blogs was overwhelmed at getting a suitable bike to pick up his paper-he’s 84.

    So what’s the hatred all about?

    Below is a sample, only a sample, from one social media outlet; Twitter. I became aware of the vitriol from retweets that came from a common cause: @CylcleHatred , an account set up NOT to berate cyclists but to record any negative tweets towards cyclists. I would guess that @CycleHatred had no idea what was about ot hit him/her.

    My first surprise when reading his/her timeline was the fear from cyclists, the anger they felt, to such an extent that they stopped following him. The tweets they were exposed to were militant, ill informed and threatening.

    Firstly the reaction: this tweet somes it up:

    Andy Lulham ‏@SpongepantsLul
    #FF @CycleHatred for a stomach-churning view on Twitter’s opinion and sense of misplaced driver entitlement, and a fair slice of sociopathy

    And now a selection of tweeters whu had read enough:

    Garry Beckett ‏@Rockybucket
    mistake startin to follow @CycleHatred I’m just amazed & angry at some of the small minded, ill informed & downright vicious at comments!!

    janieface1 ‏@janieface1
    @CycleHatred I’m really sorry but think I must unfollow. These people depress me beyond belief. Too scary.

    stevek ‏@cycleoptic
    @CycleHatred sorry have just unfollowed, makes me too depressed to read the anti cycling misinformed rants.
    Paul Hargreaves ‏@forlodge1
    @Rockybucket I can’t believe some of these people are safe to be out in public tbh Garry @CycleHatred

    janieface1 ‏@janieface1
    @CycleHatred You also say drivers don’t try to hit cyclists. I’m saying some do.
    Unfollowing @CycleHatred because it just makes me plain scared. So many jerks out there!

    Headset Press ‏@headsetpress
    Just spent 5 mins reading @CycleHatred blood pressure up phew! Sad society where death by driver is acceptable just for riding a bike :(

    BN-GRNR ‏@BNGRNR
    Just started following @CycleHatred … it’s actually making me want to smash things/people up. Staggering how thick fellow humans can be.

    The shock is apparent from these cyclists. Why?

    Well here’s some tweets from some of our fellow humans:

    Dave Blair ‏@adam_blair
    RT @CycleHatred RT @richholly68: Cyclistshttp://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7994522038481409041#editor/target=post;postID=4674100769186853582? Try and keep yourselves off our white vans today yeah, just had mine cleaned ffs

    Warren Bridge ‏@beanjuice
    @CycleHatred just saw this on facebook. pic.twitter.com/hYDJUHNi

    Carlton Reid ‏@carltonreid
    BBC plays blame game by using duff cyclist red light jumping stats: http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/bbc-plays-blame-game-by-using-duff-cyclist-red-light-jumping-stats/013903

    The Mystery Man ‏@GuessWhoMan
    @EamonnHolmes Why should motorists respect cyclists? Motorists pay road fund so we own it. Cyclists are the stowaways of the road.

    Gaga’s Daughter ‏@AniLilmonster
    These stupid bicyclists on the street! Move out of the way or I’ll run your ass over. -_-

    o_O ‏@_shivvvy
    cyclists you cunts

    Jon Smith ‏@Bas3dJon
    God I hate bicyclists. Get a job.

    Courtney Feal ‏@CourtoFeal
    Almost ran over a cyclist ! Soo funny

    † BIG L ‏@livvygrundman
    Hahahahaha a cyclist just have me evils GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD THEN WITH UR GAY BOI BIKE. FUCKING CUNT

    georgie wingrove ‏@geewingrove
    stuck behind a fucking cyclist move out the fucking way you silly bitch

    stuart catt ‏@Cattmando
    Just see the passenger of a box van with #beckinteriors.com written on it lean out his window and spit on a cyclist! Clearly a class company

    In comedy we trust ‏@Incomedywetrust
    @CycleHatred oh nearly forgot fuck u. U stupid little twat. Please dont get hit by a car will u.

    Emily Badanjek ‏@emilybadanjek
    Dear bicyclists riding on Crooks, I want to hit you. Hard. Sincerely, my road rage.

    Jenna ‏@Beavskii
    Let’s ban bicyclists on the road. Or run them all over.
    Retweeted by CycleHatred
    HRJ ‏@garyjenkins1976
    Dear #metro no we won’t put cyclists first as they are a bunch of lycra-clad knobs

    Mackerel ‏@MorganDiss
    I hate cyclists, they shouldn’t cycle on the road #bikewankers

    BroomOwl ‏@BroomOwl
    @FutileRage fucking cyclists think they own the world mate. Pricks

    Jourdain Ng ‏@Jourdainng
    If you don’t pay road tax get off the road!!! Cyclists. Gad. #roadrage

    Ian Sharpe ‏@Sharpeydude
    Sick of hearing about how hard done by cyclists are..the only cunts on the road who get away with going thro a red light as ur crossing!

    alz ‏@_aaaalice
    guy on news saying reduce speed limit to accommodate cyclists FUCK OFF. 30 is slow enough as it is. prick. get off ya bike and get a car.

    Lucy ‏@northmornator
    Reading cyclists #fuckrightoff

    Stephen Connolly ‏@steNconnolly
    I could sit here and moan about cyclists all day. Spandex wearing Eco wankers taking up road space and making traffic slower! No positives!

    Jon C ‏@Jonnyarsenal
    There’s a lot of cyclists out this morning that want to be the next Bradley wiggins, and no, I don’t mean Olympic Gold medalalist!

    tony dutton ‏@ironcheftone
    The radio says I need to be more aware of cyclists, I say pay your fucking road tax. Twat!!!

    Lee Edwards ‏@ledwardio
    The most dangerous road users I’ve ever seen have been cyclists #justsaying

    scarlett newell ‏@ScarlettNewell
    CYCLISTS NEED TO GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD
    Stephen Connolly ‏@steNconnolly
    “British Cycling bosses want the countrys roads made safer for cyclists after Bradley Wiggins AND his coach were knocked down.” Fuck off!
    Steve Norton ‏@snorton82
    Maybe if cyclists rode single file rather than clogging up the road I wouldn’t feel the need to plough straight through ‘em

    Kelly Donovan♥ ‏@KellyDonovan_x
    Cyclists proper take the piss…

    Sash. ‏@SashaKerridge
    Metro – Put cyclists first. Erm how about either fuck off the road or follow the rules i.e dnt run red lights & they might not get run over

    Rob Osborne ‏@Robtheyid69
    @BBCNews Cyclists DON’T pay road tax, DON’T pay vehicle insurance & DON’T have to sit a test therefore, SHOULDN’T be allowed on public roads

    Skunk on Fire☺ ‏@JadeyRae
    Cyclists piss me off.

    And the results?:

    squirtlebutt ‏@theongreyjoying
    One day I’m gonna run over a cyclist and I just don’t care

    North West Tonight ‏@BBCNWT
    Cyclist knocked unconscious when missile thrown through window of passing car in #Bryn near #Wigan

    My conclusion: I went for a ride, I was, as ever, sensitive, alert and respectful of other road users. One car of ‘modern yoof’ slammed their horn on as I passed them awaiting to come out of a side road. Not the first time to be honest.

  • ScaredAmoeba

    Carlton,
    Thanks for this. The huge problem with cycling is education, primarily of motorists. Motorists do not want to believe that the woes of the transport system is principally too many motorists, which of course means themselves. Many motorists are in clear denial, and they need someone to blame, and the scape-goat are cyclists. Now, I realise that you understand this, but it’s amazing how many who don’t.

    I hate driving because I find it so frustrating. On the rare occasions when I drive I hate traffic jams, just like anyone else, but when I’m in a jam I wish I was on my bike. I wouldn’t dream of driving for a short journey, i.e. under five miles. But I’d happily cycle 20  miles each way to get somewhere. Am I super fit? No, certainly not. But if I can cycle more than 50 miles round-trip (with hills), then many people must be able to cycle much further than I, especially with some practice.

    The way to start is for people to cycle into town, but the road environment has to become friendlier, and motorists have to play their part.
    There are so many reasons for cycling, but for it to become commonplace, cycling has to become more pleasant. Cycling is really so much fun, which is why I do it.

    What spoils the enjoyment of cycling is idiots in cars. Not all drivers are idiots of course, in-fact it’s only a small percentage, I can’t help suspecting that the idiots in cars are likely to think like the sociopaths on Twitter and who make anti-cycling threats and moronic comments on blogs and elsewhere. These cretins must be removed from the road. Personally, I’d have them banned and forced to ride a certified 10,000 miles on the road before they could get their licence back, but naturally only after an extended test with cycle knowledge and psychological tests to establish they can act like well-balanced individuals when behind the wheel.

  • http://velonavia.outsideonline.se/ Velonavia

    Big thanks and thumbs up Carlton!

  • Crispycross

    Regarding the writer’s point about drivers not abiding by the rules, perhaps there is a consensus about which written rules actually apply. Speeding, for example, is socially acceptable to the extenet that the presence of speed cameras provokes outrage.  Amber gambling is becoming more and more prevalent and has probably already ceased to offend many, if not most drivers.  The problem with cyclists is that they don’t appear to follow the same ’unwritten’ law.
    PS, I’ve always wondered if the stereotype, based, let’s be honest, on a fair element of truth, of the cyclist jumping red lights has in some way led to or even legitimised amber gambling. Just a thought.

  • JD

     I don’t think so. I well remember the TV adverts extorting drivers not to be an “Amber Gambler” when I was a kid back in the 70s. I don’t remember there being the same stereotype of cyclists jumping red lights being around at the time … and in those days I went everywhere on my bike, since I wasn’t yet old enought to drive a car.

  • http://www.facebook.com/trevor.thomas.581 Trevor Thomas

    At 58 years of age I have held a licence for 40 years and decided to take my Motorcycle test.

    I need to take the test to drive with a pillion passenger. Yet cyclists can have all types of adaptations on their bikes and carry what should be the most treasured thing in their life…children.

    To think, no MOT to ensure the cycle is roadworthy with the adaptation and no driver skills required.

    It’s a wonderful life.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Motorcycles have engines so are capable of going very fast, hence requirement for testing.
    Bicycles carrying children ride slowly hence no requirement for tests.
    The danger to cyclists – and pedestrians (and motorcyclists) – is from motor vehicles. It’s they that need testing, not the slow, vulnerable road user. If cyclists required testing, so would pedestrians.

  • Eman LLuf

    DON’T MISUSE TROLLFACE, YOU’RE GOING TO START A WAR WITH 4CHAN.

  • Lollipop

    I think it’s simpler than that. People hate cyclists because cycling is traditionally a white, middle-class pass time, so they vent the frustrations they are no longer allowed to express towards minorities at this particular “tribe” and it’s okay, even acceptable. And being wrapped up in a metal box inflates their own sense of security and entitlement. it’s just bullying, plain and simple. To me it reflects the break down in social values and a deep lack of respect for the rights of others.

  • Gman

    There’s two main reasons I get frustrated with cyclists:

    1.) They are incredibly slow and the roads are too small to carry us all. I spend far too much time stuck behind a bus which is stuck behind a bicycle.

    2.) The other reason, which isn’t a blanket statement like the above, is that I find a lot of cyclists don’t really give way in an appropriate and considerate fashion. I find myself often stuck behind a bicycle that could give some space and let me overtake, but they don’t, which forces me to make a more risky (for the cyclist) manoeuvre when I see an opportunity. I realise this is partly for safety reasons and they don’t want to drive too close to parked cars, but this lack of consideration begets a lack of consideration in return, and then the cycle of frustration begins.

    I’d also add that there seems to be an air of cyclist painting themselves as a victimised minority. They really are not, and it’s really not goof for one’s psyche to harbour a persecution complex. There are real victims of hate and abuse out there who you are doing a great disservice. If I were you I’d wear the ‘hate’ a badge of honour, and have a bit of fun at the expense of the ignorant idiots who direct misguided abuse at you. It’s not a skin colour or a class that you are born with and can never shed, you are free to cease defining yourself as a cyclist at any time.

  • Andrew White

    I get it. iPayRoadTax is ironic. Do you have to constantly tell us? I didn’t even need to be told it was ironic. I could have worked it out.

  • andy

    I hate cyclicsts for their lack of attention, blatant disregard of other road users and their moral stance that they are superior.

    Doesnt matter about paying road tax or insurance for that matter. Who cares about that. Its the fact that there are zero tests or exams. A large majority have zero knowledge of the highway code, zero knowledge on the laws of the road, and they all think they have right of way no matter what.

    Cyclists dont need to pay tax or anything. What they needs is COMPULSORY High Visibility clothing. COMPULSORY appropriate head safety gear. COMPULSORY examination on their ability to ride a bicycle on the road and finally COMPULSORY theory test.

    On the flip side. Car/lorry drivers should have COMPULSORY education of cyclists and how to deal with them on the road.

  • andy

    Dont talk utter bullshit. bicycles can go upto 20mph without an engine.

    Why is it that motobility scooters which go over 4mph require a free-on road tax disc and insurance, yet a cycle doesnt? What makes a bicycle different, when it can go faster than a motability scooter?

    Cyclists should undergo a test which deems them suitable to use the road. A test inwhich they learn the rules of the highway code. Otherwise, they shouldn’t be on the road and deserve what they get through the large amount of imbecillic cyclists which are a scurge to the roads.

  • http://www.quickrelease.tv carltonreid

    Hate? Really?

    And that feeling will get you where exactly?

    You’d better get used to seeing an awful lot more people on bikes. If this eats you up, you need to see a medical professional.

  • Tim

    The same reason people hate tractors and caravans: because they move far slower than anything else on the road and if you happen to get stuck behind one where you can’t overtake, it can be frustrating. Some people can apparently take this frustration and turn it into seething hatred. That’s why. All the crap about road tax, or not wearing high-vis vests or the fact that, yes, people on bicycles are just as capable of being dicks as anyone else are just rationalizations.

  • Phil

    Large majority have zero knowledge? Actually, the vast majority drive cars so how did they get their licenses?

  • Phil

    Well they dont in Europe and it all works over there pretty well.
    People (mainly anti-cycling ranters) still dont get it do they? Powered vehicles and self-righteousness always have been and always will be the greatest danger whichever way you slice it.
    My advice is get out of your powered machines and join the growing ranks of cyclists. Then you will soon learn the reality.
    And YET AGAIN you ignore the fact that the majority of cyclists also drive which throws your testing proposals clean out the window. Individuals are the problem in all transport forms, but you still dont get it do you.

  • Phil

    My advice to all anti-cyclists is start learning about statistics instead of embelishing everything based on what you choose to see out of your car/van window.
    I am a commercial driver, car driver, advanced motorcyclist and cyclist. As a cyclist I do not do any of the things you all complain about and I’m getting pretty sick of the self-centered generalisation which is often the default excuse for drivers to disregard my rightful place on the roads.

  • Alwin

    That the majority of cyclists also drive is an argument I hear all the time, but it doesn’t actually help. In the Netherlands, where I am from, the majority of cyclists do not drive often or at all. Many because they are too young. Whole droves of kids cycle to school, whereas here Chelsea tractors are required.

    And it is for that reason cycles need not be road tested. Can you expect an 8 year old kid to learn the Highway Code and pass a driving test, then become criminally liable if they remain cycling on pavements? Maybe, but not in a society I’d like to live in. That society is one that allows an 8 year old to cycle wherever and whenever he/she pleases, in the utmost safety. Freedom to explore and roam shouldn’t be limited to those with DVLA papers. Also.. Where next? If cyclists and cycles are tested, we might as well test shoes next and ban pedestrians with faulty footwear off the pavements or charge extra tax on sizes 12 and up. Let’s tax dogs too – who’s to say their road craft is adequate?

    IMHO, VED should be seen as a carbon offsetting scheme, and journalists and politicians should be taught not to speak of road tax. In the UK, there is no such tax. But apart from that, there are no roads either! Compared to Germany, Netherlands and other neighbours, what we know as such are in fact ill-considered, ill-maintained strips of broken asphalt that pretend to have benefits. A road should be a means from A to B, for the populations of A, B and C. Not a useless, potholed stretch of tarmac where crawling cars through traffic mismanagement, wrong assumptions and poor design block and endanger any other form of (public) transport and make our towns thoroughly unpleasant places to be. The idea that car drivers have every right to drive and park anywhere limits anyone else’s freedom – who therefore choose to drive cars as well. Maybe it’s time to break that cycle.

  • Phil

    Very true. The argument about mosts cyclists also driving is something I also hear all the time and I only used it here because yet again someone has used the excuse of road training against us cyclists which is getting very frustrating.
    Also, the light jumpers seen in cities is not something being done by 8 year olds.
    Other than that, I totally agree with you.
    Also, I am one if those cyclists who actually no longer has a car because I gave it up as I got fed up with the illusion of freedom.

  • Mick

    I don’t hate cyclists.
    OTOH, what I hate is a GROUP of cyclists. Most of the time, they’re massing all over the road, zig-zagging ’cause they’re talking and cycling at the same time.
    Give me a group of cyclist cycling but queuing themselves instead of next to each other, and I don’t have a problem.
    Thing is, for a group doing that, there’s another twenty groups not doing it.

  • Phil

    The other COMPULSORY you forgot to mention Andy, is COMPULSORY speed restrictions on idiots in 1.5+ ton cars and vans.

  • Dezcore

    I believe the term you are looking for is SELF-POWERED

  • Smith_90125

    In my experience, the biggest problem is the shell mentality of drivers, the same thing that causes them to quickly display road rage. Once inside a car, they “think” they’re invincible and unquestionable *except* when a larger vehicle appears. They’re stupid enough to “think” that size determines right of way or right to the road, not obedience of the law. Since all cycists are smaller than cars, the idiots with shell mentalities see all cyclists as having no rights. I’ve even seen hypocritical idiots who gripe about drivers while cycling, then gripe about cyclists while driving.

    I am REALLY looking forward to oil reaching $300 per barrel, when no one is able to afford to drive anymore, and the only cars that are on the road are cockroaches with 80MPG (e.g. slower and smaller than a Seat Leon or Tata Nano).

  • Jonah

    1) This means you are selfish – thinking only of yourself

    2) This means you are a poor/impatient driver. A cyclist should be overtaken safely or not at all in the same way as you would overtake a slower vehicle.

    You need to improve as a driver then you will find more patience and more peace behind the wheel.

  • jonah

    Andy, seriously…almost all cyclists drive cars and are very aware of the highway code, and often more considerate drivers as they can emphasise with other road users. Also your high-viz COMPULSORY rant…thats like saying it should be COMPULSORY for all drivers to have high-viz orange or yellow cars – simply be considerate of others and you’ll have a less angry day.

  • Biker Hater n’ Smoke

    I hate bikes because you think you are cars. you pull out with out regard to other traffic. you cause confusion and delay. there is no standard for making sure every biker on the road knows the rules. you ride three abreast at 10mph up a 10% grade on a two lane highway. you are unpredictable and random in your actions on the road. Your races close down major section of the road here in the Rockies. You blow through stop signs like they are not there. you run into the side of a car and are not held liable for your damage and crime. To me you are targets to be smoked out using diesel exhaust and air horns. You should be banned from roads with speeds greater than 25mph and be forced to register your bike, carry a licence plate, and pay insurance like every other person on the road, and I don’t care what you say. I just registered by car and on it, it has “bridge and road maintenance frees” – aka road tax! No other sport is as widely disliked among rural America. We hate you so much we have actually formed groups with the sole purpose to cause you harm and make riding your bike on the road as dangerous and unhealthy as possible. Enjoy your cancer

  • Jason Wright

    I hate cyclists because they take no responsibility for their actions.
    This morning a cyclist squeezing between my car and the bollard in the middle of the road at a light put a huge 1 foot long scratch up the rear wing and passenger door. Hundreds of £ worth of damage.
    He promptly road off as fast as he could.
    This following the rider on Sunday who while my car was stopped at a red light rear ended the car (for no apparent reason other than being a total twat) and cracked all the rear bumper.
    This is the FOURTH time somebody has done this while I am stationary, rear end trick this year alone.
    I have never hit another vehicle of any kind in my car, and yet it is covered in damage. 80% of which was done by cyclists who just rode off so as to avoid covering the costs. The remaining 20% is that mysterious damage that appears while you are not in your car as people who hit your vehicle just run away because “nobody saw”.

    If I as a driver took the same attitude, drove over a bike buckling the back wheel and simply drove off you KNOW what would happen. My number plate would be reported and the police would be knocking at my door. I don’t care how many people claim this is “a rare few bad apples” or “it doesn’t happen that often” blah blah, it does. The damage all around my car prove that it happens far too often.

    The sad fact is that without any kind of displayed identification on the back of a bike there is no way to track these idiots who cause damage and ride off, so there is no incentive to actually stop. Even if you DO catch who did it because there is no mandatory insurance on bikes it comes down to taking them to court privately, a frequently futile exercise.

    Please explain how this is right?

    Please explain how it is just that ONE form of road user is forced to have identification and insurance to stop exactly this sort of problem while another is not?
    I demand Equality on the roads. If you want to use them, you can damn well be responsible for what you do on them.

  • james robertson

    I haven’t noticed any irrational all encompassing hatred for white middle class cyclists, just frustration by a majority of drivers caused by selfish sometimes dangerous cyclists. Who for the most part cause accidents and are ultimately the party who come off worse from these accidents. While we the drivers are caused extensive costs of both time and money to recover from the accident.

    Following the rules of the road would
    Save a lot of hassle all round!

  • james robertson

    As for “no such thing as road tax” what a load of pedantic rubbish. It may not be called road tax any more, however there are many taxes on drivers who are the vast majority of ROAD users. None of which are paid by cyclists. Get a life will you.

  • Andrew Michael Westmacott

    Please could you let me know the VED payable for a Toyota Prius?

  • james robertson

    Not sure some pay nothing why? Pay lots if fuel duty aka road tax.

  • ManInJar

    The only occasions that I “hate” cyclists are when they’re riding in a pack two or three abreast. Single file and its safe for me to overtake, but in large groups it becomes dangerous for all road users involved.

  • Phil

    I know this was posted a couple of months back, but to all of those that like to quote various taxes and fuel duty that drivers have to pay… Have any of you stopped to consider the billions our government spends every year in militeralisation to quench our thirst for oil?
    And that is just one externality out of many so that people can enjoy the privelage of a private car!

  • Phil

    I don’t do any of this while riding. But your opening pragraph has already condemned me!

  • mwacuk

    What people like you also forget is that many cyclists also have cars, like me.

  • mwacuk

    I drive around 10000 miles a year and have rarely come into conflict with cyclists. However when cycling im often nearly hit by cars driving recklessly

  • mwacuk

    Well I drive a car and don’t have these problems with cyclists???