… which, if you properly deconstruct the word, should mean writign this with both hands. Instead, it’s at the heart of a reply, written by the British Cycling Federation, to Nigel “Panto and Ranting are my only incomes now” Havers and his cycle hating nastiness.
It starts like this:
I guess many cyclists will have shared my anger at the anti-cycling pieces in the Sunday Times, 4th February. In the In-Gear (formerly Motoring) section of the paper, actor Nigel Havers has had another of his regular pops at cyclists, whilst the letters column of the same section features an anti-cycling diatribe for the second week running.
It feels personal, it’s annoying and it’s highly frustrating. But above all that, if you sit back and think about it, it’s a stance which is pretty dumb. Yet it’s one we hear and see a lot more often than we should in the supposedly intelligent end of the national media. Nigel Havers has been on this soapbox more often than our small screens of late, so it’s not even original on any level, yet he’s at it again and editors seem content to keep paying him to do so.
But, do you know, it’s not the accuracy of these pieces which gets to me. I’m realistic enough to accept that cyclists are not all angels. Some cyclists jump red lights (a recurring theme in the letters columns of papers nation-wide). Some cyclists ride on the pavement. And, sad to say, some of us look pretty ridiculous in the garb we wear for cycling – the practicality which is usually lost on non-cyclists.
No, it’s the underlying thought processes which disturb me. There are some 2 to 3 million bikes sold in the UK every year. Cycling is the third or fourth most popular form of exercise, depending on your source. And yet, the kind of rubbish these articles contain is built on the generalising of cyclists into one big group. The term for this process is stereotyping. The authors take their personal, negative experience of one or two cyclists and extrapolate from that and ascribe the same characteristics to all cyclists.
And goes on at some length to make the point. Read it all here
It finishes not with a stereotypical analysis of car drivers, but with some real world facts:
– Cyclists very, very rarely kill people they collide with
– Motor vehicles kill thousands on our roads every year
– Cycling does not contribute to global warming
– Motor vehicles are a major contributor to global warming
And next time you see a car driver doing something foolish, consider just how ridiculous it would be to condemn all motorists on the evidence of that incident alone.
That seems a reasonable point of view to take however you use the road.