What to do with cyclists

Finally, here’s a way to get cyclists off our roads:

With the Ergo Bike Premium 8i from Germany’s Daum Electronics, riders from around the world compete against each other over virtual versions of some of the sport’s storied race courses.

Let them race in cyberspace! Brilliant. Now why didn’t I think of that?

Ergo Bike Premium 8iBefore I get flamed or threatened or hacked, I should point out that I come from a cycling country. I own a bicycle, and I grew up cycling everywhere. I agree that cyclists aren’t adequately catered for on our roads, and motorists aren’t sufficiently attentive to cyclists. The likelihood of Johannesburg getting decent cycling infrastructure any time soon is remote, which is a shame.

That said, I once dared to complain about the arrogance with which cyclists take over our roads and shut down our cities for their own amusement. My rant was sarcastically caustic, and some idiot thought it would be a good idea to forward the e-mail to every cycling forum in the country. A few civilised cyclists retorted that I just didn’t want to share the road with them, which sure is a strange thing to say when you’re proposing to have the police block off 100km of main arterial roads through the commercial heart of the city. But at least that comment wasn’t rude.

You see, it got worse. My e-mail address was submitted to spammers. My mobile number was subscribed to paid-for porn services. I was accused of intolerance in the same forums where lycra-clad cyclists called me gay. A publisher I work for was told to fire me, under the presumption that they implicitly endorse my every waking word. I even received a few death threats by phone and e-mail, from frothing lunatics who knew where I lived. An acquaintance I once considered a friend — also a cyclist — told me I deserved everything I got, including the death threats. “Hung by your own petard,” he laughed, calling into question not only his judgement, but also the command of the English language on which he so prides himself.

Let’s just say my tolerance and sympathy for cyclists, as a group, rapidly deteriorated, to rather frosty levels. What I thought was mere prejudice about cyclists was spectacularly confirmed. And my experience isn’t unique either.

When I spoke to the organisers of the cycling tour in question, they told me that businesses along the route are happy to close up shop for the day. Yet they had not done any independent research, and weren’t planning to either. They presumably figured that business owners would be rather more acquiescent if a coterie of pumped-up tourettes in day-glo spandex did the “research”. I doubt, for example, if Makro’s fire insurance would permit them to argue.

Now, finally, technology offers a way in which cyclists can indulge their fetish in the privacy of their own homes or gardens. They won’t have to put their lives at risk and spew filth at motorists for every tragic accident. They won’t have to break half the traffic laws and every fashion rule in the book. They won’t have to trample the rights of tax-paying citizens of the cities whose roads they hijack for their own amusement. They get to cycle wherever and whenever they want. And the rest of us will be spared their testosterone-fuelled aggression and sanctimonious condescension.

See? There’s an amicable solution to every problem.

Update: A friend pointed out this Monkey Dust video. It’s both apt and funny.

  • http://ivo.co.za/ Ivo Vegter

    I know what it’s like to cycle, as I pointed out. I know what it’s like to be in a cycling accident because a motorist didn’t see me. I come from a cycling country, as I said, and that country is indeed the Netherlands. I’m perfectly happy to share the road with considerate cyclists, but I expect the same in return. And to be clear: I proposed an alternative to road closures for cycle races, not an alternative to commuting by bicycle.

    Some individual cyclists are polite and civilised, as I noted. I’m sure present company are among them. But collectively, they’re by far the most offensive and egoistic group of people it’s ever been my displeasure to encounter.

    I’ve always found it odd that when driving a car, you’ll often get waved thanks from motorcyclists for giving them some room, but I’ve never had this simple courtesy from a cyclist. There may be a reason for that, not unrelated to frequenting pubs still clad in sweaty lycra. Ever sat next to someone who makes your ale turn sour at 20 paces?

    Throwing bottles at cyclists is, of course, despicable (and criminal) behaviour. But so is lynch-mobbing someone who dares to express frustration with being banned from the road because of a cycle race. Perhaps cyclists should consider the possibility that a few “anti-cycling posts” aren’t the reason why some people feel justified to throw bottles at them.

    Anyway, if cyclists raced online, the bottle-throwing problem would go away too. Amicable, see?

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Fritz

    Pretend there are a population of 1 million cyclists. The 5,000 without a sense of humor react nastily to you.

    Does it indeed follow, then, that all 1 million cyclists lack a sense of humor, as you seem to conclude?

  • http://www.karenalwin.f2s.com/blog Alwin Wiederhold

    Ivo,

    You are trolling aren’t you? We cyclists like sitting in pubs clad in lycra sweating over our pints of warm ale (in England). At least we can get back on the bikes after being in the pub.

    The only country in the world in which cyclists are respected by drivers is the Netherlands because most drivers there also frequently ride bicycles. Car drivers should know what it is like to cycle before they criticize us, and some cyclists ought to obey the rules of the road.

    I want a Playstation 2 controller linked to an exercise bike so that I can ride in winter. Something that forces me to keep pedaling in order to keep health points would be pretty cool.

  • Jim

    Well, I guess that would work… If I worked in cyberspace, too. But I don’t, I work in the real world, so I need to get to my job on the real roads.

    I’m sorry you have been the victim of humorless hackers. I have been the victim of bottles thrown from moving vehicles because I’m riding my bike in the right lane, while allowing faster traffic to pass me in the left lane.

    I’m sure you would not do that to me, in the same way I am sure that I would not submit your email to spammers. I worry that your anti-cycling posts enable bottle-thowers to justify their actions.

  • http://ivo.co.za/ Ivo Vegter

    Hi Tertia,

    When I saw your post that day, I didn’t know whether to laugh or wince. I suppose to be fair to cyclists, a perennially painful perineum would impair my sense of humour too.

  • http://www.tertia.org Tertia

    I am STILL suffering the consequences of taking on the cyclists. Apparently a fondness for cycling and a sense of humour are mutually exclusive.