There’s a whole lot of bikes out there on the roads. Take a look in your wing mirror, or in front of you at the traffic lights: you’re sure to see a two-wheeler. A ride through the city is a safari of different cycling animals. There’s the guy on his flash racer, trying to beat his Strava PB; the school kid on the pavement with a loose interpretation of riding in a straight line; the unruffled old lady, complete with handbag in basket and steady pace; or the bloke labouring on a fat-tyred mountain bike. And these are just the stereotypes.
With such visible differences in bikes and their riders, it’s easy to fall in to a ‘tribe’ mindset. You might ally yourself with one and scorn those with skinnier tyres, or surplus gears, or stuffed panniers. But really we’re all the same. However you categorise us, we are all minority road users and we need to stick together. We’re all trying to navigate busy roads that aren’t designed for us, trying to fit in with vehicles bigger, faster and beefier than ours.
Sadly a cyclist was injured on Sunday’s Randonnee after a collision with a car. I don’t know the circumstances of the incident, but I know from experience that a bike is flimsy protection in any altercation with a car. And our fundamental incompatibility makes us unlikely to see eye to eye. It’s a rare sight to see the roads congested with two wheels, rather than four, and it was clear that for some drivers this was an unconscionable insult. You only had to observe the tight overtaking and hear the rev of engines to know that some drivers weren’t happy.
There were a lot of very patient drivers on Sunday, seemingly happy to share the road. But there is some heavy metal opposition out there. So we need to forget which tribe we’re in, and remember we’re all on bikes. Regardless of how fat our tyres, or how tight our shorts, we need to represent and explain our cause, and make sure we give car drivers no reason to resent us. I hope the gentleman who was hit is well, and I hope it doesn’t dissuade anyone else from getting on their bike.