This post is inspired by Joe T.’s blog entry “The Last Thing Toronto Need is More Cyclists”. Joe makes the point that the term “cyclist” is often inaccurate because most cyclists are also drivers, pedestrians and/or transit users. As Joe puts it: “People who ride bikes are not “cyclists”… they are people who happen to ride bikes.” And if we had more of them, Joe suggests riding would become more mainstream.
It’s a good read and the comments are equally as thought provoking. But the task of popularizing cycling by making it more pedestrian (forgive me) is very daunting. Why? “Cyclist” and “motorist” are labels used by others. Most riders don’t call themselves “cyclists”, just as most drivers don’t call themselves “motorists” – as Joe puts it, “when someone asks a car driver “so… tell me about yourself”, no normal person says “I’m a motorist!”.”
Unfortunately, the labels are often used negatively, like when riders complain that “motorists” won’t share the road and when drivers decry “cyclists” for always breaking the rules.
Worst of all, the labels engender prejudice.
Behind the Labels – Rider or driver; take away the wheels and what do you have? In both cases: a person. One person rides a bike, the other person drives a car.
Most altercations between drivers and riders are based almost entirely on the fact that one is a “cyclist” and the other a “motorist” – and the prejudice brought by each against the other based on the respective modes of transportation.
Looking at it another way: did you ever see a pedestrian give the finger to another pedestrian after being cutoff, blocked or forced to slow down while walking? (Happens to me every time I go to the mall – mall walkers are the worst. )
Posted: October 20th, 2010
Author: Stephen Da Cambra
Filed under: Cycling Issues
Tags: bike, car, cyclists, driver, motorists, riders | 6 Comments »