Been a tumultuous time for cycling in the news. First news broke that Wiggo had been hurt in a collision, then that team GB coach Shane Sutton is in hospital following a collision (get well soon chaps, your contributions to UK sport cycling are inspirational). And then a never-ending cascade of nasty directed towards cyclists on social media sites (as discussed here by Calrton Reid).
One of the messages that has been tweeted and re-tweeted, stated over and over again and basically repeated as a dogma is that whats missing is 'mutual respect'. That somehow cyclists and motorists should all just 'respect' each other and then we'll have some kind of road-nirvana tarmacaddam love-fest.
That message is vacuous crap.
Honestly, do you really think cyclists don't 'respect' motorists? A motorist is surrounded by sharp metal, gleaming glass, unyielding plastic and a heavy engine full of pistons churned by flammanble poison. Can anyone, hand on heart, say that the problem here is cyclists don't 'respect' that? Of course we bloody do. And if we don't choose to do so we're mercilessly bullied to the kerb to enfoce the perception we MUST respect motorists. We do not, at any time when using the road, have any real opportunity through our actions to demonstrate disrespect to motorists - except perhaps through a few choice hand gestures. And I'll wager that such gestures are 95% of the time reactive rather than proactive. Our choice of safe road position is NOT a show of disrespect, its an attempt to survive.
On the other hand, motorists can EASILY choose to show disrespect to cyclists, and the number of examples of motorists doing so on camera (how many helmet-camera riders on You Tube now?) or just on Twitter is staggering. We encounter it over, and over, and over, and over again. A staggering number of motorists will use the excuse of Brad Wiggins getting hurt to express this 'disrespect' or, more likely, utter hatred and a vile wish for us to be murdered.
So please, can you all take your 'mutual respect' and go feck yourselves? I DO respect motorists as fellow human beings, and I am forced to respect the enormous disparity in how much harm they can do to me compared with how much I can do to them. All I ask in return is for that to be returned, but I can say flat out that this does not happen.
This bland implication that there is more that cyclists must do to 'respect' motorists before we deserve not to be maimed or murdered in ever increasing numbers... Gosh, if that doesn't bring a little bit of sick up to the back of your throat, I don't know what will.