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“Why some people get angry with cyclists”

January 30, 2012

Via The Invisible Visible Man:

Such anti-cyclist anger reminds me in many ways of the feelings about gypsies that I would hear expressed when in lived in central Europe. In Hungary, people would tell me they disliked gypsies because they were lazy and dishonest. In Romania, some gypsy groups were unpopular because they were more successful than most Romanians, and built large, vulgar houses to show it. The truth was that gypsies – like, I would suggest, cyclists – were unpopular principally for being different.

Humans seem to feel a rage against those who get away with things they long to do – with the gypsies for seeming carefree and unconcerned about bourgeois norms, with gay men for flouting their feminine side, with cyclists for skipping ahead of them to the front of the traffic queue. It would be wrong to claim that cyclists – mostly, in London, articulate, middle-class men – face anything like the problems that the perpetually victimised gypsies or blacks or gays face. But I think the instincts have a similar genesis.

None of this of course would matter much either if the sentiments expressed produced no real world consequences or if anything were being done to tackle the prejudices. Yet there are real-world consequences – and significant reluctance to tackle them.

Hat tip: Cap’n Transit.
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2 Comments
  1. January 30, 2012 9:42 pm

    Seeing something different scares people – they begin to question themselves and that makes them nervous. When drivers begin seeing more cyclists on the road, they start to question if driving is the answer to everyday transportation – and that scares them. It takes a while for humans to embrace something new. With enough positive reinforcement, changes do happen.

  2. February 6, 2012 2:18 am

    Thanks for posting this link. I’ve since posted another piece on this new blog – about how we pass down cycling within families. It’s at http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/ I hope you enjoy it.

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