Another day on social media, another cyclist-hating fuckwit. This time it’s Dom Joly the comedian. He didn’t start with cyclists but that’s not really what bothers me. Lets start at the top. Dom was apparently driving along in his dirty car when he got stuck in a traffic jam due to roadworks on a roundabout. Dom then illegally takes a picture of a delay sign apparently from the driving seat (the law states no operation of handheld devices while driving even if stuck in a traffic jam) and posts it to Twitter complaining specifically about the roadworks and nothing else.
As could be expected, this then generates some interest from various part of his audience including this.
That conversation goes on for a while with usual suspects trying to get Dom to understand that it is a dangerous activity and illegal even if the car isn’t moving but does cumulate in Dom going with this gem.
Now I’ve no doubt this is simply Dom chucking in stuff for an argument and I’ve no idea whether he truly holds this opinion, he continues arguing throughout the days with the inevitable collection of cycling/safety evangelists gravitating to his timeline but as the day wears on it’s clear he’s just continuing for kicks and publicity. In fact, he’s now even written a commentary about the responses on the Independent comment page. Good for him. None of this really bothers me, but the last post of his above does.
He is of course, not unique to hold this view. Hating cyclists is certainly in vogue if you follow pretty much any popular mainstream media outlet. It’s good clickbait for the media guys because it’ll be guaranteed to generate responses both from any number of reactionary keyboard warrior cyclist haters through to the extremely strong and vocal online cycling aficionados. The Daily Mail teaches well.
But lets go back to Dom’s post. “As a driver I find cyclists to be cunts”.
Now I’m a driver as I’m sure many of the people who cycle who might read this are. I actually quite like driving when the roads are clear, which they rarely are. And I like cars. I’ve been accused of being anti-car on many occasions which people who know me would find hilarious but the point I want to focus on is this. As a driver, I don’t find cyclists to be cunts. I have never, in 30 years of driving, ever had a problem with one single cyclist. Really, it’s never happened. I’ve driven in pretty much every UK city, never had a problem, as I’m sure do millions of other drivers. I’m sure come cyclists are cunts, but I would imagine the proportion is no different to the general population level of cunts. So why do people like Dom have issues?
My first guess would be that only shit drivers find cyclists to be cunts. We’ve often heard the phrase ‘He came from nowhere’ which clearly isn’t true. As a cyclist I’ve been attributed with all sorts of powers such as causing danger to drivers (ha!), costing the taxpayer thousands (ha ha!) and cause traffic jams (rofl!), but so far, teleportation has eluded me. So I’ll need to assume that anyone who thinks I’ve appeared from nowhere simply hasn’t looked properly.
Another distinct possibility, and far more likely in my opinion, is that Dom and all those who hold similar views to those expressed by Dom, simply don’t know any cyclists. Sure, they’ll know people who ride a bike every now and again but I doubt they’ll make any link between those people and people who ride to work and back, down the shops, club cyclists. People who have something to say about cycling. It’s a classic case of ignorance breeding contempt. After all, should Dom have a friend or family member who is a keen cyclist, they’re not going to be overly enamoured with his very public views and one would hope they have something to say to him about it. So clearly Dom doesn’t know any keen cyclists, or does and he wants them to know how he truly feels about them. I suspect the former though. Same for all the other people who think cyclists are cunts. They just don’t know any.
And this is where the cycling in numbers brings safety point kicks in. It’s not that I think cycling in numbers really does bring safety but what it does do is make more people cyclists so people like Dom have a smaller and smaller audience with whom to share their bigotry with. The sort of nonsense he’s coming out with on his Twitter feed and in the Independent will become challenged more and more and will in time become unacceptable in decent circles.
So if you want to end views of this nature, if you want tired and dangerous outlooks like Dom’s to get brushed away and forgotten, encourage more and more people to get out on a bike and care about the environment they cycle in. Let them know it’s perfectly acceptable to want to cycle to the shops in complete safety on infrastructure build specifically for cyclists. Tell them they don’t have to wear helmets or yellow coats, they don’t need training, they don’t have to be fast or aggressive. All they need is a bike and the will to get out there.
And who knows, the person you’re talking to one day could be Dom’s mum.