I’m frustrated. Every time – every single time – I bring up cycling and cycling-related deaths the response is, in one way or another: “fucking cyclists”. Either they’re riding two abreast on a small road, or running red lights, or holding up traffic.
To the best of my knowledge, none of the eight people killed in the last few months were doing any of the above. So why did Constable Hensley feel the need to mention that “he had seen cyclists do ‘a lot of stupid things’ including going through red lights and weaving in and out of traffic.”?
When a family dies in a road accident on a slippery road at night, we don’t respond with “fucking drivers, always doing burnouts and playing their oonst oonst music”. This is because we know the majority of drivers are not boy racers.
And yet, here we are. Eight people killed, almost certainly through no fault of their own, and we’re pointing out fringe behaviour in unrelated cases. Why?
Why not focus instead on the cycling infrastructure? The inattentiveness of drivers? The lack of cyclists in general here in New Zealand, leading to an apathy toward them as road users?
We allow pedestrians the courtesy of a safe footpath, no matter how drunk, stupid or disorderly they are. We allow drivers huge expanses of road, regardless of how often they use their phone, break the speed limit, or roll through a stop sign. Why are cyclists afforded the barest tolerance, the narrowest possible space – so narrow, that a single inattentive swing of a door results in death – with the reason being that another cyclist, at some unrelated time, was an idiot?
Instead of responding with fringe behaviour by one group, respond as if it’s your mum riding that bike. Getting rear-ended at speed on a country road. Getting doored by a car and falling under a truck.