Now, I know that big media thrives on, nay, relies on, clickbait. I know this. These days, clicks mean money, and the more polarizing headlines and articles you can put out there, the more attention it garners, and the more money you get from advertising.
Responding to clickbait is tricky. The logical side of me jumps up and says to ignore it. Clicking on it, giving it the time of day, is just feeding the monster.
The emotional side of me screams:
Most of the time, my internal dialogue goes something like, “I know this is clickbait, and it is so ridiculous that it really doesn’t deserve a response, but then, wouldn’t a logical, reasoned response that puts paid to these weak, spurious, unfounded and unresearched arguments, nay, statements of opinion, do more good than harm? Don’t people need to hear a better counter argument? Surely this can’t go unchecked!”.
And so, usually, the clickbait wins. I can’t stand by and let it slide, because I am weak, and continue to feed the monster what I see as a bitter pill, even though I know the beast will stomach anything, so long as it is fed.
The Telegraph opened the cage to let the beast out once again, this time carrying an opinion piece by Angela Epstein, creatively called, Cyclists think they own the roads. They don’t. It’s got Pulitzer written all over it.
Hey, like I said, I know that this is only being peddled to those who are already convinced of Ms Epstein’s views and have absolutely no interest in having that challenged, and that my views here will most likely never be seen by the eyeballs of the unconvinced.
Still, I’m a sucker for this crap, so obviously you know what’s coming…
The title of the article should give you ample warning of what is to come, and really, you don’t need to read any further into it. Nothing new is presented. No original line of thought. No new perspective. Nothing that contributes to this conversation.
Still, old-fashioned and outdated lines of thought present a certain nostalgic and therapeutic quality to some, like watching re-runs of your favourite Golden Girls or Matlock episodes and then being sung to sleep in your Craftmatic adjustable bed while wrapped up in a cozy haze of the most common Old-Personᵀᴹ medications by the sweet, sweet siren of songs of “those scary lycra-louts who regard the road as their own micro-universe. A place where they can duck and weave with impunity and without recourse to the law”, “an appalling sense of entitlement”, “practically every day, I witness cyclists taking the law – and their lives – into their own hands”, and the “scheming sets of traffic lights” that fiendishly impede motorists journeys everywhere.
All of these things are vast generalizations at best, but it is the following statements that I’m simply not strong enough to resist making at least a passing response to:
“After all, we motorists have to pay insurance and pass a driving test to prove our road worthiness. Isn’t now the time to make cyclists do the same? Or at the very least, beef up the law to stop the kind of dangerous hijinks practiced by so many of our two wheeled friends”,
and, yes friends, this antiquated chestnut:
“It’s not that I believe cyclists don’t pay for the road. As research by British Cycling found, 87 per cent of cyclists also regularly drive cars, and so most cyclists have already paid the road tax.”
Ok, so firstly, why is “now the time”? Cars and bicycles have been around for a little while now, but now is the time? Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize. Because you and your views have arrived.
Next, “you motorists” have to pay insurance because of the significant risk and potentially outrageous level of damage that you can cause to all sorts of things, up to and including the death of thousands of your fellow motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Also, you might want to check your own facts and reconsider that you have kindly pointed out that 87 per cent of cyclists also regularly drive cars, meaning that most of them will have comprehensive car insurance which could in many cases cover them while on a bike, if their home insurance policy or membership to a cycling body doesn’t already… in the rare occurrence that that a cyclist causes any damage approaching the cost of anyone’s deductible actually happens.
You have to pass a driving test for the same reasons. Curiously, cyclists only manage to kill somewhere around 0-1 persons a year in the UK, Australia, Canada, and USA, so no, it’s not time to do the same. Also, these reasons.
“Cyclists often ignore the highway code”, Ms Epstein says. First of all, what does “often” mean? Secondly, and? Are you hurt? Injured? Dead? Late for work? Have you suffered a mortal blow to your good senses? Did that cyclist who filtered to the front of the queue cause you to be a social pariah, unable to find gainful employment for the rest of your days? I mean, sure, they should follow the law like everyone else (though, if we need to follow it merely as well as motorists, then I think we’re following it well enough, thank-you very much), and it makes my blood boil when I see a cyclist flaunting the law and I cringe when I make a bad decision, but I think a productive society focuses on things that significantly impact the quality of life and safety of its citizens, the economy, the environment, etc as a primary focus, rather than things that aren’t threatening any of these things, and actually helping most.
Beef up the law, you say? For whom shall the law be beefed up? The one’s posing a very real, constant, costly, and fatal threat to public safety, or the one’s who are not?
I think the law is being kept quite busy enough trying to keep up with those motorists choosing to “ignore the highway code”, don’t you think?
Not only that, but cyclists can and do get held accountable for their behaviour in the eyes of the law, but “guy gets pulled over for not wearing a helmet” doesn’t make a good headline quite as much as “horror crash kills family of four”, so I understand why you probably aren’t aware of this fact.
But you saw a cyclist run a red light with impunity? Funny, I saw a person in a car decide to run a red the other day with what looked a lot like impunity. I guess all motorists are to blame, then.
Road tax? Seriously??? Well, given the tone of the article, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still makes me despair for humanity. The earth is flat. Cyclists don’t pay road tax.
Anyway, even I’m a bit board and a little disappointed with having felt the need to address Ms Epstein. I apologize to any of you who have wasted your time reading what should be patently obvious to anyone. The clickbait got the better of me, and now I haven’t the time to come up with anything more fruitful.
I don’t know. I guess you can blame the cyclists.
Header image: source