There was a time a few years ago when it seemed sensible to create a safer road environment for cycling, and even to promote cycling as a beneficial pastime, but all that has changed. The entitlement mentality among cyclists has developed into full blown narcissism. Their arrogance and disregard for the law that has turned a sympathetic public against them, and all they sit for.
The push back against cycleways and cyclists is gathering momentum around the country with Wellington leading the way.
All of us can identify with the sentiments of this article written for the UK’s Daily Mail but every bit as true for NZ.
…while obeying the law or the rules of the road may be obligatory for lesser mortals such as car drivers, cyclists believe that they themselves are above such irritating trifles.
As many others have also protested, cyclists regularly ride through red lights or fail to stop at pedestrian crossings — even when a car has just done so.
They ride the wrong way up one-way streets. They ride on the pavement, causing pedestrians to move sharply out of the way — sometimes into the road! — to avoid being knocked down.
In short, they behave as if they are lords of the universe. Small wonder, when they are generally treated with veneration as the harbingers of a morally elevated society. One particular campaign by The Times champions them as such unimpeachable icons of progress that it seems to suggest the entire road network should be reconfigured for their convenience.
Two days ago, it triumphantly reported an unprecedented £913 million initiative by local councils to put cycling at the heart of public transport.
Certainly, the toll of cyclists killed on the roads is alarmingly high, and it is only right that attention should be paid to making cycling safer.
Nevertheless, at least some of the time these accidents are caused by cyclists taking astonishing chances with their own lives — riding at night without any lights, cutting up cars or buses or overtaking on the inside so drivers cannot see them.
But none of these things is ever deemed to be their fault. The blame is always laid on others.
For such folk, every single aspect of their lives is a statement — about themselves, of course, and in particular how worthy and progressive they are.
So for them, the cycle is not just a machine for getting about with two wheels, a saddle and a handlebar. No, it is a badge of unimpeachable virtue.
It effectively says of its rider: look how environmentally conscious I am, how socially responsible, how clean-living, humble and powerless — compared to the dreadful Mr Toads behind the wheels of their powerful, filthy, anti-social cars which are all going to destroy the planet if they don’t choke us all to death first!
That’s why politicians such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson have used the image of themselves on their cycles to burnish their progressive credentials (slightly dampened in the case of Mr Cameron, when it was discovered he was being followed on his cycle by a car with his official papers on the back seat).
This assumption of superior virtue confers an air of effortless entitlement, which causes certain cyclists to believe they can break laws with impunity — and if they mow down any pedestrians, well it’s the pedestrians’ own fault.
It is sanctimonious self-righteousness sealed in Spandex — and the rest of us just have to get out of the damned way.
….cyclists are no better or worse than the rest of us. But when their faults are pointed out, they react as if they really think they are untouchable.
One journalist wrote recently that after criticising cyclists for their behaviour, she received death threats, vile insults and obscene abuse.
It’s high time such cyclo-fascists were brought down off their towering saddles and made to observe the same laws and social conventions as the rest of us. Inspiring sportsmen they may be; demi-gods behind handlebars they are not.