When the media has decided that a thing is worth inciting controversy over, especially in the medium-to-long term, then you know that thing is worth taking seriously, one way or another.
When something has reached the stage where the controversy around it has become financially profitable, then you know that the thing in question is legit. It’s not a passing fad. It’s here to stay.
When individual idiots decide that they could probably make a few bucks off of some hateful, insipid, swill that is based on that controversy that they think passes as entertainment, then you know that the thing is not only legit, but that it is pervasive enough in society where even idiots can decipher that, even though their thought process only goes as far as, “people will really react to this! I’ll probably get millions and billions of hits on the youtubes!”
Cycling has been around the traps for a while now, but only in the last few years has it become a real, ongoing concern in the media. Sometimes the coverage seems a little disproportionate when compared to the actual mode share that cycling possesses in most parts of Australia and elsewhere, but nevertheless, it’s a regular occurrence in the news-media. There may be a number of reasons for this (lycra/pelotons/sport cyclists may frame the situation as an intrusion on the roads as frivolous and completely unnecessary, vs. people just getting around on a bike), but regardless, the hysteria testifies to the legitimacy of cycling. The irony.
Clickbait around cycling has been in full-swing for years now, but for whatever reason, the fact that individuals who have no apparent skills or social-standing or public following of any kind feel that they can become famous from inciting hatred and violence towards a particular group of people seems to me to signify that a new level has been unlocked. I might be way off base with that, but that’s the impression I had after seeing the latest talked-about video out of New Zealand from a rather silly girl hoping to get internet-famous from creating a scene where she throws a tantrum that even the most spoiled, emotionally stunted, and let’s just add stupid toddler would be embarrassed at, because, cycling (though she appears to specialize in performing the road rage for any and all occasions. Feel free to contact her for your next road rage-themed party! It’s fun for the whole family, providing your entire family consists entirely of dickheads!).
So far she appears to have been wildly successful at making people hate her, but not all that much else.
The upshot of controversy
In any case, there are positives to take away from such situations. This points to the fact that cycling has so much currency that lazy opportunists are looking for handouts. That’s awesome. It’s also the perfect time to apply that extra bit of pressure, and the best strategy is to strengthen its currency in positive ways so as to ensure a long-term gain rather than playing the short-game where we just ride the controversy wave until it crests and flattens.
Stiff resistance to change is the norm, particularly when people feel that they have something to lose. We need to concentrate on changing the way that people interact with cycling from a large group of people losing out to a smaller group of people, to everyone winning. Cycling is a win-win, if it’s done correctly. We need to be annoyingly positive about it all. Much of what fuels the fire of the anti-cyclists is the reaction from cyclists.
I’ll keep this short.To summarize: Samanthapants (look her up on the facebooks if you want, but prepare to be saddened) is a sad person blatantly trying to profit from some lame controversy around cycling. This can be seen as a good sign for cycling. We should be encouraged that cycling has a good enough foundation in our society that random people feel that merely jumping on the coat-tails of its controversy can make them rich and famous. As people who want to see cities where people come first, we should be annoyingly positive about cycling and invite those resistant to it to come along for a ride, where infrastructure is a good thing, relaxed and welcoming communities are good things, healthy people are good things, and where being a dickhead isn’t rewarded!
I came across an article tonight on dealing with resistance, so I’ll try to make something of that for cycling’s sake on Monday to continue on with this idea.
In the meantime, happy weekending, and go ride your bike. Oh, and if a dickhead yells at you, smile and invite them to join you for a ride.
Header image: source