65% of Drivers Say Cyclists Are a Threat to Their Safety. Come the F#@! On.
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A maddening new survey out of the U.K. has taken victim-blaming of cyclists to the next level: According to 65 percent of the drivers surveyed by IAM RoadSmart, cyclists are “a risk to their safety.” That’s right: Not a risk to themselves, as cyclists taking their lives in their hands by riding outside. No, no. Cyclists are apparently a danger to drivers.
The survey was conducted by the IAM RoadSmart, an independent road safety charity that educates drivers and motorcyclists. Results also indicated that not only are cyclists obnoxious, we’re getting worse. Per The Independent, “60 [percent] believe aggressive cyclists are a bigger problem compared with three years ago.” (Roughly the same percentage also believes motorists have become more aggressive, so this may just be a national “everyone is getting angrier” situation.)
As The Independent’s reporters point out, this is patently ridiculous, especially when you look at the stats from the Department for Transport. In the last decade, four car occupants were killed in crashes involving a bicycle and a car in the U.K.. In the same timespan, 494 cyclists were killed by motorists.
Yep, cyclists are clearly posing a serious risk to drivers.
This kind of victim-blaming isn’t confined to U.K. drivers. On Saturday, a group of 13 cyclists was struck by a pickup truck in Goodyear, Arizona, and two of the cyclists were killed in addition to numerous injuries.
The statement from the Goodyear Police department to ABC12 News was:
“I think our message to cyclists and motorists pay attention to what's around you on the road, this is certainly the time when there are a lot of cyclists enjoying the weather and drivers need to share the road.”
While at least the police department mentioned sharing the road, the implication that cyclists—especially a group of 13 riding together—could be the ones not paying attention is, frankly, gross. (The driver was eventually arrested and is awaiting trial for manslaughter.)
Director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart Neil Greig is fairly moderate on the results of the survey. He says that despite the new laws that have been made to clarify cyclist and driver rules around things like passing, there is still confusion and aggression:
“The majority of respondents still reporting aggression and conflict among road users. There is no quick-fix to this issue, but our research sheds light on the urgent need for the Government to maintain its education campaigns on the new Highway Code, and continue to invest in safe road markings for more vulnerable road users to minimise the chance of conflict wherever possible.”
However, it is worth noting that this survey of only 2,010 drivers (not drivers and cyclists) has been making headlines all week, with little clarification as to where the research came from. And unfortunately, many are using it as an argument that “proves” cyclists are dangerous road users. For instance, Sky News’s coverage of the survey used the headline: “Majority of drivers say aggressive cyclists threaten their safety.”
As many pointed out on Twitter, while Greig is fairly impartial in his comments regarding the survey, publishing the driver-centric results potentially makes angry motorists feel more justified in their anti-cyclist viewpoints. “How do you reconcile the huge amount of abuse and anti cyclist rhetoric being prompted by your internal report with your stated aim, claim?, of making the roads safer?” one commenter asked.
Other replies included:
Today 3 cars overtook me at significantly less than 1 m distance. Nonsense like this crap just encourages drivers not to see cyclists as valid road users and encourages dangerous driving.
— Andrew D (@AndrewD24598996) February 26, 2023
FFS! Stop both-siding this!
How many drivers are killed each year by aggressive cyclists? How many cyclists are killed each year by aggressive drivers?
You claim to care about road safety, but are happy to stoke anti-cycling hatred, just as click-bait?
YOU are making it worse!
— 🚲 Will - @WilliamNB@toot.bike 🇿🇦🇬🇧 (@WilliamNB) February 26, 2023
You surveyed 2010 drivers. Yup - only 2010. And *yup - ONLY DRIVERS*.
REAL "road safety charities" don't attempt such self-serving lies as "almost two thirds (65 per cent) of respondents believe that aggressive cyclists are a threat to their personal safety".
— gavincooks (@aLeedscyclist) February 26, 2023
How do you reconcile the huge amount of abuse and anti cyclist rhetoric being prompted by your internal report with your stated aim, claim?, of making the roads safer?
— ReCyclingDave (@cycling_dave) February 27, 2023
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