Lan­guage about cy­clists in ar­ti­cle was ap­palling

Irish Independent - - The Week -

ON WED­NES­DAY, an ar­ti­cle was pub­lished in the Mo­tors sec­tion of the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent dis­cussing the is­sue of cy­clists break­ing red lights. This ar­ti­cle, writ­ten by an anony­mous RSA ex­pert, com­pares cy­clists to “busy bees” through­out the ar­ti­cle, and at one point, de­scribes us as “swarm­ing masses”.

Dublin cy­clists are a thick-skinned bunch, and we’re well used to abuse on the road. But the dan­ger of rhetoric like this com­ing from the RSA is that it will le­git­imise dan­ger­ous pre­con­cep­tions held by a small mi­nor­ity of drivers.

In Septem­ber, there were three sep­a­rate in­ci­dents caught on cam­era in which taxi drivers used their ve­hi­cles as weapons against three dif­fer­ent cy­clists.

In each case, the driver swerved at the cy­clist nu­mer­ous times try­ing to knock him down or cause him to crash. On the third oc­ca­sion, the driver chased the cy­clist to the wrong side of the road, nearly caus­ing a head-on col­li­sion with an­other car in the process. These three in­ci­dents hap­pened within a month of each other, all in Dublin city, but the si­lence from the RSA was deaf­en­ing.

The vast ma­jor­ity of peo­ple would never dream of chas­ing and as­sault­ing some­one with a knife or some other deadly weapon. Yet put them be­hind the wheel of a car, and put a cy­clist in front of them, and a few peo­ple are sud­denly com­fort­able with as­sault­ing a com­plete stranger with po­ten­tially lethal force. This is what hap­pens when you de­hu­man­ise cy­clists, when you en­cour­age cer­tain drivers to view us not as hu­man be­ings, but as “swarm­ing masses”.

While the lan­guage of the ar­ti­cle was ap­palling, its con­tent was lit­tle bet­ter, and should se­ri­ously call into ques­tion the knowl­edge of this RSA ‘ex­pert’.

The writer doesn’t of­fer any data to back up the claims be­ing made, in­stead opt­ing for a se­ries of per­sonal anec­dotes. Not men­tioned in the ar­ti­cle is the fact that the vast ma­jor­ity (88pc) of cy­clists do not break red lights, ac­cord­ing to the RSA’s own re­search. Nor does the writer tell the reader that red light cam­eras in­stalled in the city cen­tre showed that 77.1pc of red-light jumpers were in cars, vans, or taxis, while just 12pc were on bi­cy­cles. And these data don’t even in­clude drivers who ac­cel­er­ate into am­ber lights. When you com­pare these num­bers to the mo­dal shares for the dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles types, it be­comes clear that drivers break red lights at least at the same rate as cy­clists.

This ul­ti­mately begs the ques­tion, why has this RSA ex­pert never writ­ten an in­cen­di­ary, in­ac­cu­rate, and frankly dan­ger­ous ar­ti­cle like this about the be­hav­iour of drivers?

Lest we for­get, drivers, not cy­clists, are the ones who have the ca­pac­ity to kill with ease on our roads. Ar­ran Bol­ger

Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.