When a blogger from New Zealand linked to this blog the other day, I checked to see what it was all about. It turned out to be one of those articles about how dangerous cycling is, how cyclists make up their own rules and blow through traffic lights, etc, etc.
The piece started out in this fashion:
“Thanks to Al Gore, biking to work has attained a new cachet. You can exercise, get to work, and save the earth all at the same time.
But cycling is - particularly on New Zealand roads - dangerous. About a dozen cyclists die on our roads each year, and lots more suffer injuries as a result of accidents. And most commuters will be able to recount a near miss or two observed in rush hour traffic.”
Now wait a minute, let's back up here. A dozen cyclists killed a year in New Zealand. That's hardly a statistic to back up a claim that cycling is dangerous. I did some checking and discovered that New Zealand has a population of over four million people.
Twelve out of four million killed on a bicycle in a year must rank up there with people slipping in their bathtub listed as a cause of death. How many people died in cars in New Zealand in a similar period? A lot more than twelve, I guarantee.
In another part of the piece, there is this strange statement:
“Some cyclists seem to operate to an odd code which permits traveling through red lights and transferring occasionally to footpaths when it suits. Not to mention the odd sight of Lycra-clad cyclists in cafés sipping lattés.”
He said, “Not to mention Lycra-clad cyclists,” but he did anyway. This says a lot about the author of this article. The statement has nothing to do with safety or any other issue in the piece, but clearly shows he is anti-cyclist. I find a statement like this disturbing, coming from an educated man, who happens to be a lawyer no less.
I will go even further and say he is a bigot. If you were to substitute the words "Lycra-clad cyclist" with the name of a race of people or their color, this would be a bigoted statement. He is judging a whole group of people solely on their appearance.
I have explained before why I wear Lycra. For safety; bright colors can be seen; and for comfort; riding fifty miles or more in anything else is uncomfortable.
If I decide to stop for refreshment at the end of my ride with a few like-minded friends, am I to carry a change of clothes for fear I might be discriminated against? And what is the reason for this discrimination that seems to be world wide?
It goes beyond simple road rage. Is it because society as we know it can no longer discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, or religion? The "Lycra-clad cyclist" fills a void. Why this human need to make outcasts of anyone who appears a little different?
You can read the rest of the article here.