adversarial cycling

It’s hard to escape the welter of media attention being given to cycling at the moment; in part because of the death of a number of cyclists in London. It’s been accompanied by reams of statistics. it’s overwhelming. i have nothing to add to the wider debate, only a few observations.

My reflections based on a commute through Bristol tell me this:

– the roads are very busy; cyclists and car drivers do not co-exist easily in the same place

– cyclists are angry because they perceive an imminent threat to their life and limb, car drivers tend to be angry because they’re sat in traffic

– there is a tangible and desperate inequality between the treatment of cyclists and car drivers, including a culture of specious victim-blaming, mostly from privileged tory halfwits like boris johnson, obliquely suggesting that a headphone ban might save cyclists from painful HGV death. Years spent blaming foxes for their reckless and risk-taking behaviour leading to their demise at the hands of guffawing poshos on massive horses have honed these rhetorical skills.

– road design in Bristol includes such bright ideas as luring cyclists across two busy lanes of traffic to join a cycle lane, or tempting cyclists across a busy main road to join a cycle lane, or putting in pinch points that force cyclists into traffic, or designing a cycle lane that lasts 100 metres and cuts across a left hand turn…

the temptingly depicted bike signs, strangely etched on the wrong side of the road
makes perfect sense to cross the busy main road on your bike to access the truncated cycle lane which then lasts for 100 metres


the whiteladies pinch point: great for taxis, really really shitty for cyclists

I’m trying to be less adversarial. it’s really hard when the odds are stacked against you, even in a ‘cycling city’. If you’re interested in some of the stuff that’s come out this week, here are some articles:

6 thoughts on “adversarial cycling

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  1. Two points I’d like to make.

    First, cars don’t sit in traffic, cars ARE traffic.

    Second, horse riders like bikes too, well I do, and I’m not a posho… whatever that is.

  2. Two rides to work this week and both times saw cars totally smashed up very close to the segregated paths I was riding on. Both times I felt very glad to be on a cycle path that is not just a dotted line along the edge of the road, but also a cycle path situated well away from the violence of nutter drivers. Latest one was this morning…

    I’m guessing the couple were ok as they were removing their belongings from the car. Very surreal watching people getting their shopping out of the boot of a car when it’s upside down.

    + @Neil MacKinnon. I think Traumfahrrad was having a go at Fox hunters’ attitudes (and the horse riding part was descriptive rather than derogatory). And I think the cars / traffic part may have been reference to the many people who sit in traffic in cars believing that everyone else is the traffic and problem and don’t see themselves as part of it. Or maybe it’s me reading it wrong?

    1. Adam, that is an utterly surreal photo. I raced cars for a few years and saw one or two upside down, but a saloon car? On a roundabout?

      I am well aware that the pop was about fox hunting, which incidentally was banned in 2005, and the type of people who took part in it. The point I was making, possibly slightly obliquely, was that describing horse riders as poshos and assuming that all people who hunt are upper class idiots disconnected from the rest of society, sits up there along with ‘all cyclist jump red lights’ in the table of sweeping generalisations.

      As for traffic, good point; as a high milage business driver, I resentfully accept traffic as an occupational hazard, but it had never crossed my mind that other drivers viewed themselves as anything other than part of the problem. As a cyclist, I know the one thing I do which is guaranteed to REALLY piss off car / van / lorry drivers, is to nip past them while they sit in a traffic jam. Bless em.

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