A BBC documentary and a couple of smug vigilante cyclists paint an unfortunate and inaccurate picture of life on two wheels in our cities.
“It is your killer instinct which must be harnessed if you expect to survive in combat. Your bike is only a tool. It is a hard heart that kills. If your killer instincts are not clean and strong you will hesitate at the moment of truth. You will not kill.” Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket, 1987.
Last night the BBC aired its much anticipated documentary (at least in the world of cycling) called ‘The War on Britain’s Roads’ which offered a look at the sometimes strained relationship that exists between motorists and cyclists in our cities.
Unfortunately, in its wisdom, the broadcaster chose to put a couple of self-proclaimed ‘vigilantes’ at the core of the programme and, as a result, a significant proportion of the 3.5 million who watched the show will come away thinking that cyclists are, frankly, a bit weird and completely self obsessed.
The so-called @CycleGaz is well-known in London commuting circles for the video footage of his commute (you can watch them on his YouTube channel, here). But an ambassador of cycling, he certainly isn’t
Here’s what he had to say last night:
“You look down at your speedometer and you can see that you’re doing 30mph – you’re keeping up with the other traffic. And it kind of feels like I’m saying I deserve to be here, I can go as fast as everyone else.
“And it feels great when you’re cycling past traffic, you’re seeing everyone stuck in their metal box, just trying to get home – and you can just cycle past.
“The relationship between drivers and cyclists can be pretty difficult – I think some people’s mindsets are they just hate cyclists, they sort of feel like they have to get in front of you and they’ll do that by any means. I think it could kind of be described as like a war.”
Smug, and a bit childish.
That CycleGaz claims that cycling in our cities can be described as “like a war”, is sensationalist, over simplistic and plain wrong and one can only assume that the BBC interviewer set him up for that particular statement.
So, make no mistake, there isn’t a war on the streets of our cities, just millions of people trying to get from A to B with a couple of idiots thrown into the mix. Some of those idiots are cyclists and some of them are motorists, and when the two come together you get an argument.
But that wouldn’t make very good television.
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