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Monday
Jan232012

Warne’s World

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.

 

                        

Reader Comments (14)

Great post, Dave.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLee

Shane Warne doesn't seam like a nice person...

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Buckfast

Recently I read on http://muenchenierung.blogspot.com/ a thought provoking article about cycling in Japan, especially in cities. It was suggested that a prevailing sense of consideration for one's fellow citizens exists and an attitude of "OK, things happen, lets just get on with it " Both of these qualities are definitely lacking in UK and by the sound of it in Australia and the US. Or is this just a city thing ? I don't enjoy cycling in cities in UK but I don't mind cycling in cities in France and Belgium. Subtle but important difference ! Cycling in France I'm aware of a benign toleration by car users but in the UK there is a distinct sense of hostility. Why is this ?

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Handlebar Code

The most valuable message here: Don't escalate! As my dad always said, discretion is the better part of...something. Going to war with a car is always a losing game.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ

Unfortunate but not unexpected. Predictable remedy: Punish cyclists with more red tape, licensing fees and bureaucratic nonsense.

Question for you Dave: When auto drivers refuse to share the road and buzz by too close to a cyclist, is it inappropriate for a cyclist to smack the side of the car to alert them to the fact that they are endangering your life?

Virtually every time I cycle such a life threatening event occurs. It may be the minority of drivers that are so irresponsible but I experience it the majority of the times I ride.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Great post, Dave, +1.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

What is particularly annoying about this case is that Warne as a long history of lying. Both to the media(about smoking) and to his wife(about fidelity). Yet as soon as he says something about a cyclist, the media assumes that he is telling the truth and everybody just gets on the "blame the cyclist victim" band wagon. Makes me sad.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimo

I'm of the mind that once you do threaten another road user with a motor vehicle, you have already threatened that person with deadly force. I think "boys will be boys" is a little passive in that situation, don't you?

I don't believe in having a chip on my shoulder, but strict non-escalation isn't an option. Separating naked malice from stupidity, I will make a teachable moment if there is a witness and a way (see above).

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChamps

g,day dave love your blog.
i live now on the gold coast in australia ,(for the weather and terrific cycling conditions apart from red neck (we call em bogans )drivers .
in the nineties i can remember(and experienced ) warne getting an huge reputation in the cycling community for hassling riders in bunches on beach road alongside port phillip bay (melbournes most popular cycling route and VERY busy with cyclists but plenty wide and your standard in oz just over a metre bike lane, heaps for 2 abreast bunches to roll thru ) (warne lived on this road )whist driving his convertible italian sports car .driving up and down beach road passing close yelling abuse and generally being a bogan!seems like nothings changed.and yeah timo lied to his sponsors, lied to his wife and kids,been busted for match fixing ,pinged for diuretic use in his sport ,numerous tired and emotional (drunken)antics .just your typical modern sporting role model NOT!.just a spoiled loudmouthed obnoxious bogan .

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkenny79

That's not cricket. Bit of a sticky wicket, what?
Seriously, this chappie can consider himself lucky he didn't run into a 'roided up Danny Pate.

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonyd

Amen, brother! Cars wait on other cars all the time, but the second they have to wait on a biker... they blow their lid. What's the difference? They just don't think they should have to wait on a bike. We're vehicles, too!

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerek DeRaps

Hi Dave, This guy sounds like half the Assholes who live in Los Angeles. Besides having no patience and a bad case of the "me me's" he sounds just like the typical conceited LA jerk. One day he might have a life and have children of his own who at some point might ride a bicycle whether for fun, commuting, competition or.... only to tell "Daddy" about the Assholes on the road who yell and scream at cyclist's because they share the road with cars and trucks, Maybe, and only maybe "doofas" might have changed his mind because his own flesh and blood will be threatened. It's unfortunate that the media "throws " stories the way they do. They are not intelligent in the first place and their big decision makers probably don't ride bicycles either. Because of all the competition in media today there's a big deal on selling news whether it's bullshit or not. This jerk needs to be forced to ride on the road right next to the traffic so he can experience the "near miss" feeling of cars getting to close. And make sure each and every driver is distracted by texting and phone users.
Ride safe everyone !

January 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

In conjunction to Brian's post, such people see bicycles merely as two wheeled RVs not as transportation. Hence cyclists are "in their way." I see this manifested in all sorts of ways. Many people in my neck of the woods throw expensive road and mountain bikes on the racks of their cars but would never think of using a bike for transport to work or even to the store around the corner. In my city the trail system (which I used for my cycle commute) is maintained by parks and RECREATION. Bike lanes and trail crossings are designed and built by people who have not been on a bike since they were in their teens. I recently had an exchange with someone on my local paper's webpage who could not be convinced that personal transportation could be done without a personal automobile: bragging that he had four cars in his garage. Even daring suggesting different ways of getting around he derided as social engineering. I should have developed Dave's point of how he has been social engineered to think that the automobile is the be all and end all.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRLD

Let this be a lesson to all of us; don't thump a car until traffic is really backed up and there is a good getaway route.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermander

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