The myth of the mad motorist

I deliberately haven’t been looking at the user comments posted on the Newcastle Herald story on their website. I’ve never found those discussion forums to be a source of polite or rational conversation, and the second hand reports I’m getting of the vitriol being fired at cyclists in response to that story merely confirms that opinion. One of the things that strikes me though, is that the raging rift between motorists and cyclists that the media likes to play up, is in my experience a myth.

For the past two years my cycle commute to work has taken me through the Clyde St railway crossing into Islington where I have to move from the left hand side of Clyde St, to merge in with the traffic so that I can turn right into Chinchen St. I always find that motorists exhibit politeness, patience and courtesy in allowing myself and other cyclists to make that right hand turn.

Clyde and Chinchen Streets, Islington.

Thinking back on my last eight years of cycle commuting, while I have experienced a few occasions of inattentive or careless motorists, I have only been subjected to one incident of abuse and impatience from a motorist in that time. So the idea that motorists and cyclists are somehow in opposition to one another is largely a myth in my view.

So the next time someone tries to whip up a frenzy of outrage over cyclists, its worth remembering that this is a fringe opinion, and that the vast majority of people who drive cars recognise that the provision of off-road cycling facilities is beneficial to motorists and cyclists alike.

2 thoughts on “The myth of the mad motorist

  1. I have only been driving around Newcastle for about 3 years, and about 8 months ago I saw an altercation between a car driver and a cyclist, in the Merewether area, It looked to me as if it was going to end up in a fist fight, I was not going to hang around to have to intervene and get involved in the subsequent paperwork. I have also seen about 5-6 other altercations, again, was not going to hang around to see the outcome!. And the frequency was more recently than at the beginning, bottom line, there is going to be some real violent confrontations soon!

    • It continues to be my experience that cyclists and motorists in Newcastle are sharing the roads responsibly. While altercations may happen, I hope they are rare and that it doesn’t ever come to violent confrontations.

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