The thing is...you see...oh jeez, this is hard....the thing is...I own a pedal cycle.
There. I said it. Do your worst.
Why am I so nervous about this? Well, it's quite straightforward, really. Just lately I've become more and more aware of the increase in negative feelings - maybe I should say; the increase in reporting of negative feelings - towards pedal cycles and the people who use them. I'm lucky not to live in Vancouver - it's a very fine city as far as such things go, blessed as it is with a stunning backdrop of mountains, forest and ocean, but I wouldn't want to live in any city - where feelings seem to run very high on the subject of cycles. Not vicious cycles, not menstrual or breeding cycles, not even motor cycles, but, you guessed it: pedal cycles.
The term 'Cyclopath' - which, incidentally, I just came up with, but I'm sure has been used at least seven times before - could refer to a couple of things. It might, for example, be a cunning compression of words to describe the network of cycle lanes that the city of Vancouver has established - or indeed, the ingenious (if utterly, utterly pointless) markings on the roads of my little town - which we shall call Hicksville, BC - which indicate that cycles may use them. In the latter case, bemusement was the reaction of many locals to the expenditure of copious thousands of dollars for the purpose of informing cycle riders that they were indeed using a road upon which cycles could be ridden (just like every other, mysteriously UNmarked road in the district).
In Vancouver, however, a tide of hatred has arisen in recent years, the like of which I have not seen anywhere else. In Vancouver, a very vocal minority or residents/drivers express a depth of hate for cyclists which seems - and, dammit, it IS - completely disproportionate to anything that the cyclists have done. I suppose that if marauding bands of cyclists were snatching babies, beating up old women with bike chains or shitting on driver's cars in rush hour, I might be able to understand the almost murderous vitriol which spews from people when they start on the subject of their cycling issues. Interestingly, however, the very worst thing that cyclists seem to be doing is being responsible for the occasional fender-bender or even sillier: putting their own lives in danger.
Having someone doing something stupid which results in damage to your vehicle is of course bloody annoying, and is , I think, justification for a few well-aimed expletives. However, damage to your car - or, more frequently - being given a nasty fright by some eejit on two wheels who takes liberties with the rules of the road, is not, and never will be justification for threats, or expressions of desire to do serious injury to any member of a group grouped together as one responsible-for-everything-in-your-life-that-you-wish-was-different mob named 'cyclists'. To put it another way; I drive a great many kilometres (oh yes, we're metric around here, and by the way I spell the unit of measurement correctly, too) and have done throughout my adult life. In thirty-something years of driving, I've had countless numbers of near-misses (and one or two distressing crunches) caused by careless, reckless or plain stupid drivers. I do not, however, regard ALL drivers as candidates for enforced euthanasia, which seems to be the reasoning of a group of people I have today dubbed The Cyclopaths.
The intensity of the hatred which Cyclopaths continue to express - whether it be for the cyclists themselves or the idea of providing cycle lanes for them to use - is frankly astounding.
I don't mind getting a bit cheesed/hacked/ticked/fucked off about an issue, but Cyclopaths take it further, closer towards blood vessel-bursting incandescent rage. Road rage. It's all, to put it mildly, a bit silly - and that's without pointing out that cycle lanes which take cyclists away from the main stream of traffic are a positive measure to anyone who stops and thinks a little about it.
It would be OK if 'silly' was where it ends, but as anyone who drives or rides on the roads knows, it frequently translates into aggressive, careless or downright dangerous driving as people's better judgement is clouded by unreasonable or disproportionate ire. The simple truth of the matter is plain to see: cars are made of hard stuff which usually becomes pointy and sticky-out when it hits other things. Cyclists are soft and mushy (by comparison: I'm making no comment about personal fitness, in case anyone points out my lack of any) and injure easily. the safest thing to do in a car is to give them room (Jinkies - even slow down if you have to do so!), anticipate wobbles or even silliness, and then go on your way, safe in your metal box and grateful that you don't have to brave the elements or the nutters who drive cars these days.
Road rage is always an over-reaction, but when it becomes a matter of car vs. squishy human being, the line of reasonableness has become trampled into the mud. It's a rationale that can apply to so many issues in everyday life: we (I'm suing the societal 'we' here) all seem to be becoming more anxious, more hurried and more stressed about so many things. Our emotional responses seem to be becoming more raw and more extreme ( I do not include in this the teenage female's propensity for being 'freaked' or 'grossed' out over just about anything), and the Cyclopath phenomenon is a symptom, not a cause of this trend. The problem with this particular tend, however, is that it can turn nasty - even lethal.
Chill, people. Have a ride on your bike, or something.