Opinion: Let’s keep it simple: just don’t kill cyclists

GET REAL: You don't have to like bikes. You don't have to like lycra. But you do have to drive safely.

GET REAL: You don't have to like bikes. You don't have to like lycra. But you do have to drive safely.

You’d struggle to find an arena of human activity where killing a fellow participant is talked about in such a casual fashion as this.

This side of Collingwood, at least.

I’m talking about cyclists, and the fact they take their lives in their hands every time they hit the road – trying to stay upright while an increasingly hate-filled breed of motorists, who may or may not be driving oversized utes, take pleasure in almost running them off the road to an early death.

Not since the gladiators donned their mini-tunics to put each other to death in the name of entertainment has homicide been so freely discussed as an option.

Murder and manslaughter, yeah, nah, they’re in the law books, but when it’s driving, y’know, it’s different.

I’m writing this in the knowledge that by morning I will have to sort through a mile of abuse, invective and vitriolic bile (otherwise known as social media) because the topic turned to cycling. 

Why all the aggro? 

Next time I’ll run you over.

Give them space. It’s the law.

But now, a call from the cycling lobby for in-car tech known as “lane-keep assistance”, or “autonomous braking”.

Lane-keep assistance. Like training wheels for adults. I would suggest if a driver can’t stay in their lane, then they should seek alternative means of transport.

Same goes for the ability to brake.

Are we that far gone?

Perhaps. There’s a new breed: drivers who demonstrate their annoyance with cyclists slowing them down by swerving a metre or more into the oncoming lane, without slowing down, without indicating. 

I’m so entitled, if I have to avoid this cyclist I’m taking your lane. What? Slow down? What do you mean it’s not safe?

What is wrong with people?

The whole reaction to cyclists seems totally out of proportion. Cycling is an environmentally sound form of transport, it reduces traffic congestion and causes almost no road deaths. 

Here’s a modest proposal.

How about we just make sure we don’t kill people who ride bikes? Car: hard steel. Human: soft flesh. Human will always come off worse.

So a cyclist is slowing you down? Easy: slow down. Wait til it’s safe. It’s 20 seconds.

So you find them annoying in their lycra suits, riding two abreast? Fine, but being annoyed doesn’t mean you can kill someone. So stop saying it. Or you’d better hope your musclebound new cellmate isn’t a cyclist.

Ben Langford is a Fairfax Media journalist

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