You may, or may not, have read this past week about the big brouhaha going on in the Land Down Under.
Former Australian international cricket star Shane Warne (Right.) got into an altercation with a cyclist, while driving his Mercedes.
The type of thing that happens every day in different places all over the world.
The big difference is that when a sports super star starts spouting distaste and even hatred towards cyclists in general, newspapers and other media run with the story. People take sides, and no useful outcome is achieved; just a bad taste left on both sides of the fence.
Like all stories there are two sides. Warne claimed the cyclist abused him verbally and thumped on the hood of his car with his fist. Of course in such cases, the more expensive the car, and the more important the driver, the greater the insult.
Later an unidentified cyclist came forward to tell a different story; he said the driver deliberately ran into him and his bike ended up jammed under the Mercedes.
When the cyclist managed to get his bike free, the rear wheel was pulled over, and his chain was tangled; he had to move to the sidewalk to fix the problem. An independent witness came forward to corroborate the cyclist’s story.
Shane Warne called for the registration of all bicycles; along with the mandatory displaying of a number plate. This is the usual knee-jerk reaction when such incidents occur; his thinking was had the cyclist displayed a number plate he could be held accountable.
Accountable for what? Rudeness, bad manners. A cyclist thumping the hood or roof of a car is the equivalent of a motorist laying on the horn to express his displeasure. It will get your attention and it will get your point across.
Not that I am advocating that cyclists should thump on cars with their fist; not a wise thing to do. A wise man would not antagonize another who was already pointing a gun at him. To thump a man’s beloved car, could be viewed as a personal attack, and the car could quickly become a deadly weapon.
This whole incident is a storm in the proverbial tea-cup. Had this been Average Joe in his car getting into it with Joe-Smo on his bike, would it have made the newspapers? Of course not.
Similarly, if I drove my car at 15 to 20 mph in front of Shane Warne, I may have made him angry, but not angry enough to run in the back of me. Not angry enough to burn up the Twittersphere, or to get the media even mildly interested.
My point is; when are people in automobiles going to realize that more and more people are going to be riding bicycles? It is likely to increase, not decrease. You can fight against it, or you can get used to the idea and accept it.
Count the times during your drive to work that you have to wait behind a car making a left turn. (A right turn for Shane Warne in Australia.)
We don’t fume or fuss; we don’t lay on the horn. We simply sit there and wait as long as it takes for a break in opposing traffic; the car can then make his turn and we can proceed. It is just part of the experience of driving in traffic.
Then a short distance up the road the same driver has to slow because there is a cyclist ahead and it is not safe to pass. There is no point in becoming angry, it is just part of today’s driving experience; get used to it.
And what good can cyclists learn from this? Don’t escalate the road rage; even if you didn’t start it. No good can come of it; at best you are perpetuating the stereotype of the asshole cyclist; at worst you could get yourself killed or seriously injured.
Get everything in perspective; you encounter hundreds of drivers during an average ride. Only a tiny minority will deliberately be aggressive towards you. They want to push your buttons, and get some reaction out of you; deny them that perverted pleasure by ignoring them. Ride it off instead.
You have already shown good taste in a highly civilized form of transport; a bicycle. You have the balls to ride in with the automobile traffic when many simply admit they are afraid to do so. Don’t stoop to the level of asshole drivers; even famous asshole drivers like Shane Warne.