Don’t Blame the Bike Riders.

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There’s a feeble joke on the internet where someone is arguing for world peace. They want no division between class, ethnicity, religion or other factions. They want unity – so that everyone can hate cyclists together. It’s pathetic really, because there’s no good reason for hating people on bikes, but many seem to do it, unless you’re on one. If you’re on a bike, you’re always worrying about being hit by a vehicle, the victim of ignorance, oversight or hate crime.

Discrimination based on stereotypes and assumptions is unacceptable, whether it’s racism, sexism or speciesism. Hatred of bike riders is another -ism, and there’s no justification for it. It’s bullying. It incites drivers to harm or intimidate people on bikes. Whether it’s a shock jock on talk back or The Daily Blog, hating on bike riders is dangerous and can endanger peoples’ lives.

When you ride a bike, it’s like you have a target painted on your back. Every day, when I get on my bike, for fun, fitness and transport, I become a target for people who suddenly irrationally hate me– because maybe they saw someone on a bike who ran a red light once, or something. But I don’t suddenly turn into a bad person on my bike – to the contrary, I’m very happy!- I’m just someone trying to do my bit for the planet, who wants to get home alive.

We get buzzed by fast moving cars, run off the road by buses, run over by trucks. We get things thrown at us, we’re sworn at. We’re condemned for wearing lycra whether we do or not. Actually, if you ride a bike frequently it pays to wear appropriate gear. We get called roadkill. We get abused for asking for more cycleways, for the development of cycleways, for not using cycleways. We’re condemned because there are too many cyclists, blocking traffic, but also that no one cycles anyway. Truth is, there are hardly any cycleways, and those we do have, are either full, or full of broken surfaces or broken glass.

We get told we should pay a registration fee and then we’d be more legitimate road users, more deserving of safety, and we’d be safer. But registration has no relationship with safety. No country in the world registers bicycles. It’s an impractical proposition – would it apply to children, what about pedestrians? And anyway, we’re not in a user-pays transport system. Most cyclists also pay rates and taxes which contribute to the few cycleways that are developed. Public health experts reckon cyclists should be subsidised for the wider climate change, health and environmental benefits riding does for society.

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It wasn’t just cyclists who crossed the harbour last week, looking to GetAcross the Auckland Harbour on the 62nd birthday of the bridge. It was walkers too, but it’s the cyclists who get the hate. It’s not our fault car culture and road rage are targeted at bike riders. It’s not our fault New Zealanders think roads are solely for cars. It’s not white privilege that motivates us to want safe places to walk and cycle including across the harbour. Cycling should be for everyone, and has particular advantages for the poor. It’s free. It’s efficient. It burns fat, not oil.  It’s not our fault the Government has allocated a ridiculous amount of money for a bridge across the harbour that we doubt will even be built. It’s not our fault that when we went to cross the bridge last week, the few police present conceded ground fairly easily, – didn’t beat anyone up, allowing us access to two lanes that were already closed to traffic. We also observed that it may have been a different police response if it was a predominantly Maori group who were trying to cross. But that’s not our fault. It’s not rational to blame cyclists for a racist system.

It’s not rational to hate cyclists even though it seems to be a national sport, whether you’re a driver or not. So give us a break. Car drivers don’t actually own the road. People on bikes aren’t some foreign species undeserving of the right to life. We’re mums and dads, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties. We’re loved, and we love life. But every time you hate on us, condemn us for riding, you risk us staying alive.

 

55 COMMENTS

  1. Well said, Christine. Funny how all the faux environmentalists, and healthy living wallahs lose contact with their brain cells when they behold a bicycle. Funny how riding a bike has been contoured into yet another bad white person issue. Keep pedalling, you’re doing well. Keep safe too.

    • It’s not illegal to hold a peaceful protest though. The lanes were prepared for those riders and walkers. I support them. Women got the vote through civil disobedience and apartheid was abolished. Remember that.

  2. Well said, and I can only totally agree. I’ve come to the appreciation that New Zealanders (no matter what they tell themselves) are just not nice people. I cycle to work and for fitness. It’s only 10km a day, but nearly everyday I would have a near miss. I do everything I can to reduce my chances of being hit, I cycle as far left as humanly possible, I use lights (day and night) and follow the road rules. Yet I still get things thrown at me or squeezed.

    No I don’t expect everyone else to pay for a cycle lane, I just want people to have some empathy for the precarious situation I’m in every day.

    BTW those ‘cyclists’ who forced themselves on to the harbour bridge are not cyclists, they’re zealots, please don’t put the rest of us in that same camp.

    • Bg, I crossed the bridge last weekend – but didn’t ‘force’ my way across. When I went through the gate, it was open and police were standing aside. The lanes were closed before the rally even started. After a life time of riding, and almost as long as an advocate for bike safety, maybe I am a zealot. But looking at other cities around the world where you can ride across a harbour, I sure am motivated to get across this one. Just as I am motivated to improve walking and cycling around the region and the country.

  3. It’s the same old story ‘divide and rule’. Stop hating your fellow oppressed and channel any rightful anger at your oppressors.

  4. +100 Christine.
    @SnowWhite, @Bg, & @Kevin – spot on!
    “New Zealanders (no matter what they tell themselves) are just not nice people”. QFT

  5. I guess we can assume the police are going over the video footage of the cycle gang crossing the state highway one harbour bridge identifying the law breakers and will be pressing charges, just like they did with the car drivers doing burn outs on state highway one at the Mongrel Mob tangi in Pakipaki. 😉

  6. There’s no reason cyclists can’t be registered and have a number on their back or their bike. Then when they run red lights or endanger pedestrians on foot paths they can be identified and prosecuted. Their registration fee could go to paying the exorbitant cost of the cycleways and their partition in ACC. Rego its a no brainer. Even dogs have rego. Bicyclists are free riders getting a free lunch. They’re allowed too much freedom!

      • Sure did. And I don’t hate bike riders. Have enjoyed riding bikes in the past.

        “And anyway, we’re not in a user-pays transport system”.

        Well yes, we are in a user-pays transport system. Drivers paid for the harbour bridge and petrol tax paid for the roads which cyclists free-ride on.

        Thousands of car parks paid for by petrol taxes are being converted into cycle lanes at the inconvenience of the people who paid for them. When you look at the redevelopment of the street scape in Grey Lynn and Mt Albert, car parks are gone replaced by cycle lanes. And as you acknowledge these have very minimal use. You are just as likely to see a cyclist illegally riding on a foot path as on their designated cycle lane.

        Truckers have a metered wheel hub to calculate road user tax, I am sure we have the technology to put a meter on bike wheel hubs and levy a cycle lane and road use tax to pay for all these bike lanes. Surely if cyclists want these cycle lanes so badly they will be willing to pay their fair share of the infrastructure costs.

        It would be good to know the annual cost of ACC for bike rider accidents? And find some way to levy that back onto cyclists and thereby reduce the ACC bill of other road users who are having to unfairly cover the bike rider’s costs!

        • If car drivers pay for traffic lanes which are then converted to cycle lanes, then the drivers who become cyclists have indeed paid for them. In fact, cycle lanes are paid for from a mix of rates, excise and other general taxes. It’s not user pays because anyone who pays rates or taxes contributes, whether they use the facility or not. And roads aren’t just for motorised vehicles as if it is a privilege if we pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to use them by the grace of motorists.
          I didn’t ‘acknowledge cycle ways get minimal use’, I was quoting what people say. It was a rhetorical literary device.
          Sometimes cyclists ride on the footpath because there is no other safe option – footpath or risk death.

      • And another thought. Maybe the cyclists should have to pay a few hundred dollars for a cyclists license test so all the other road users know the cyclists have been forced to learn the road code and can then be expected to not run red lights, not ride on the footpath, stay in their designated cycle lane, have a bike light, make turning signals, keep out of bus lanes, make way for lane changing buses etc. Then have some police enforcement to basically compel them to be courteous and not be idiots.

        • Joseph, I’ve got a much better idea than that.

          All drivers should have to spend the fisrt 6 months of their driving ‘careers’ riding a push bike around so they get some idea of what it’s like having some knuckledragger shave past you.

          You seem to be on a very high horse, time to climb off it, go ride your bike and rediscover the joy of life. (maybe change the frequency from 89.4 as well…)

    • There’s a reason no country registers people riding bicycles. It’s too expensive and cumbersome to run.

  7. As both a cyclist and a motorist I don’t blame the cyclists: The ones who ride for pleasure, for exercise or to commute. They do their thing and good luck to them. But I am blaming:

    1. The cycling evangelists who have turned this into a self promotion exercise. Anything to get their name in the papers.

    2. The NZTA who don’t insist on proper driving instruction before allowing people behind the wheel of a car.

    3. The councillors who promote ridiculous cycle lane projects that destroy businesses, bankrupt the city and will never be truly ‘green’ because the carbon emissions created in their construction will never be recouped by the handful of bikers who use them.

  8. But I thought there was One Law for All?

    Breaking the Law is what it is. Just because the Lycra-Ecofacists-Gentrification Mob wanted to have a public demonstration for the privilege of gaining access to a major highway kinda does make it right.

    I can see this turning into a haves and haves not arguement meanwhile, $685m could build a lot of houses.

    • “Just because the Lycra-Ecofacists-Gentrification Mob wanted to have a public demonstration for the privilege of gaining access to a major highway kinda does make it right.”

      Good grief, get a life you sad man.

        • Actually dan, it’s the whole comment that lacks any depth of intellectual vigor whatsoever… If I had a dollar for every time a reactionary tory blew the old “that money could have built a million houses” malarkey… Do you not understand just how little that amount is compared to what is being invested in new housing? Well….. Answer me.. If you don’t like being treated like a fool, then stop making silly comments… It just adds another layer of stupid to the already over blown drivel that passes for debate in NZ nowadays..

  9. The atmospheric CO2 level is far too low (only 420 ppm) and we need to get it much higher (say 450 ppm or 500 ppm) by driving cars and flying planes etc.

    Then we can have a storm systems like the one that hit Canterbury every 3 or 4 months….interspersed with severe droughts.

    • Queue 100 reasons why you suddenly hate electric and autonomous cars that solve both problems vs constructing entirely sperate infrastructure made from concrete ( carbon !!! ) and toxic green paint.

  10. People in front of you had forced their way through and you followed.
    What were the Police expected to do at that stage?
    You took the law into your own hands,you put yourself above the law.

    • It’s a bit like saying, I didn’t break into that house, someone else did and all I did was go through that entry.

      Not to mention all 6 police stood aside, what else could they do? But walking out on to a motorway with lanes operating was insanely dangerous. And why did no one from the cyclists lobby think of the children??? Hey kids, go play on the motorway took on literal meaning.

      • With all of the publicity and camera footage.
        Police 10/7 would be a good place to start with a picture asking for the public to contact the Police or Crimestoppers if they can assist in identifying the offenders in the photo’s. You know, like they do with Maori and PI “offenders!”

        Once they’ve identified them, they can then send them all infringement notices like they do to everyone else.

  11. Christine, the question I have is how does the planned cycle bridge cost/ride stack up against demands for extra funds for Pharmac or Starship Hospital? That we need a cycle/walk way across the harbour is not in question, but logically and cost effectively it needs to be part of a new harbour crossing. In the interim are there more cost effective options such as cycle bus or ferry? There will be no enviromental gains from the present plan; it will take many many millions of bike rides to repay the carbon consumed in building it.
    Another question I have is – Are cyclists and pedistrians prepared to pay a toll to recover the cost of the bridge as motorists had to do for the existing bridge? because if you are not then the accusations of ‘privilaged bludgers’ would appear to have some validity.

    • Well, funny you should ask that Peter.

      I think every cyclist in Auckland would happily trade a lane now for a billion dollar bridge in a decade.

      And if the hundreds of millions saved went to pharmac or whoever that’d be a fantastic trade off for everyone involved.

      You’re welcome.

  12. The main issue with cyclists is their lobbyists are so repelling. They are never happy with anything. They are perennial victims. They are bullied. They are doing Gods work. They demand everything and yet break the law and don’t give a shit. It’s as if the rest of society has to give into a bratish 5-year-old child who always gets their way.

    There are good cyclists around, they are not the issue.

    I am frequently a pedestrian and I see just how uncaring many of these eco angels are. These cyclists are about themselves and care about no one else. They are dangerous on shared paths, worse on footpaths and so bad at obeying basic road rules for everyone’s safety the council has had to put signage up on Quay St to warn pedestrians of cyclists ignoring red lights. Cyclists appear to have the mentality and awareness of a 3-year-old child.

    And the biggest issue of these lobby groups is honesty. I read this morning that registering bikes has nothing to do with safety, it’s repeated here. The thing is if I drive a car or motorcycle and I run a red light, I expect there is a reasonable chance of getting fined, not to mention how dangerous it is, or drive on a footpath, or go the wrong way down streets, like bike riders do habitually, not “because maybe they saw someone on a bike who ran a red light once, or something”, Once? Lol! Rego plates would actually enhance safety because there are that direct means of identifying who is the user and who know it.

    Other typical innocent bike lobby responses:
    “It’s not our fault that when we went to cross the bridge last week, the few police present conceded ground fairly easily, – didn’t beat anyone up, allowing us access to two lanes that were already closed to traffic” let us pick on this;

    The lanes weren’t closed well in advance, they quickly closed when idiots decide to go on to a live motorway.

    What could 6 cops do in a crowd situation, they were overpowered by sheer numbers. The issue lay more in the police management who were impotent and out to lunch. It is your fault you took advantage of weak police, you knew they would fold against good white folk from good backgrounds, you exploited it.

    “We also observed that it may have been a different police response if it was a predominantly Maori group who were trying to cross. But that’s not our fault. It’s not rational to blame cyclists for a racist system”. So a racist system made you go on to a live motorway, did it?

    This is where bike groups fall apart. The inherent dishonesty of their arguments and manipulation is obvious and it is what they are about, to get their own way, to entertain their pastimes free of charge.

    So it’s no wonder everyone else gets their backs up every time bike lobby groups open their mouths.

    • You’re obviously never worked in the Police. They’d fine maybe 1% or drivers going through red lights. Stand by any set of traffic lights for 5minutes and watch if you don’t believe me.

    • Well said XRAY; I agree. If the cycle lobby groups accepted theirs are not the only needs to be satisfied they wouldn’t get so much flak.

  13. The only problem with that ma is the enormous increase in pollution, traffic grid-lock and lost production it would cause; are you prepared to impose those problems on our community?

      • So you are demanding that, so as you can cycle or walk across the bridge, others are to be forced to consume ever increasing amounts of fuel whilst sitting in increasingly grid-lock traffic or do you plan on forcing them to get on a bike themselves.
        Yes I do remember Covid; I am one of the few that religiously scans QR codes without being ‘forced’ too; I trust you do the same.

        • Demanding? Funny how people like you invent arguements to justify thier predjudices Peter.

          I asked you a question and you came back with an accusation. Well done.

          While we’re at it, no one is forcing anyone to do anything, no one is forcing anyone to ride a bike, or drive a car, or sit in gridlock. That’s called personal choice.

          Have you heard the saying – You’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic! I often say it to myself when I’m going nowhere on the motorway.

          Another question for you – have you ever heard of induced demand?

          A simple yes or no will do (if you’re capable of keeping it that simple), either answer will sum up your thinking.

            • I was quoting from your blathering about people being forced Peter…

              Here’s your quote – others are to be forced to consume ever increasing amounts of fuel whilst sitting in increasingly grid-lock traffic or do you plan on forcing them to get on a bike themselves.

              Twice you mention being forced.

              Then I said no one is getting forced to do anything.

              Got it?

              Doesn’t matter anyway. Over and out.

        • You can’t undo the gridlock in Auckland. The motorway was never designed for the amount of traffic we have now to flow on Peter, no matter what you tell yourself. A second Harbour bridge will not help the petrol and diesel guzzlers cause. It will proliferate big transport companies though. The only answer is to somehow take more vehicles off the road and as kiwis are a selfish bunch, this won’t happen to the degree needed but at least this is an attempt to try. As usual, the anti government brigade are the usual naysayers. The opposition want more of the same, another bridge and more traffic.

          • Bert, even if the new cycle bridge removed the quoted 3000 people a day from cars this would make an insignificant difference to the congestion, so to me it is not a cost effective plan. The only long term solution is a mass transport system across the harbour (Note: not the provision for more roads as more roads means more cars and more congestion); the sooner we get on with rail across the harbour the better for the environment. It is futile to waste more time and huge amounts more money for consultants and planners on a cycle/walk bridge that will not get built (SkyPath II). The only immediate viable solution for cyclists is the provision of ‘bike buses’ and/or increased ferry capacity.

          • Bert, FYI I am not in any ‘anti government brigade’, far from it. I have actually been called one of Labour’s Rank and File (but I’m not that either!); and I certainly don’t agree with building ever more roads. I’m fearful that ideas like spending $685M+ on a cycle bridge, or putting twin tram tracks along Dominion Road are not being scrutinised for practicality before being promised. Because of this the government will end up failing to deliver. These ideas originate in the offices of people paid to be ‘dreamers’ with endless budgets to spend (our money) – what is missing is a dose of practicality and economic responsibility.

  14. If it was true that anonymity has no effect on behavior why do criminals steal cars in which to commit offences ?
    Of course it does.
    Cyclists , especially if they are to reach such a high percentage of the transport units, need to be identifiable, they can be responsible for accidents, and witness to accidents.

  15. I’ve always found the friction between car drivers and bike riders to be a bit of a six verses half a dozen situation.. I drive, and ride (bicycles, motorbikes), and I’ve experienced the idiocy from both sides.. What I’ve seen is that there are far too many on both sides of the argument that have an overblown idea of what they have the right to do on the roads.. Car/truck drivers being stupidly inconsiderate/irresponsible, up against bike riders who insist on forcing themselves into the traffic stream in ways that make it dangerous for everyone, riding into intersections without adhering to good road sense, etc.. Tamaki drive is a great example of the daily game of roulette the riders play, by either refusing to use the cycle path available, and forcing their way into lanes when there isn’t any room to shift if not everyone spots them in time. With an empty cycle path right there they could have used instead.. This isn’t a rant about bike riders, as both sides need a swift kick up the behind for practicing rank stupidity in what amounts to potentially life threatening situations… I consider this an issue of maturity, and the lack of it..

  16. Cyclists ? As a cyclist can I say if you must cycle on roads and streets, please, for Gods sake, cycle into the on-coming traffic. NOT with the traffic. The reason is cyclists can’t see what’s coming at them from behind ( Unless you have rear view mirrors which I have seen on some cyclists helmets.)
    The reason why many motorists ‘hate’ you is because you scare the shit out of drivers and that’s because drivers know you can’t see them and if you waver, weave, lean, stop or wobble about while you suck on your water bottles there’s every chance you may be run over and lets face it, slowing down from 100 k to 20 k to over take a cyclist is a tad unreasonable to say the least.
    Use your common sense and help us drivers not run you down? That’d be nice. Cheers, thank you.

  17. ” “New Zealanders (no matter what they tell themselves) are just not nice people”. QFT ”

    Oh yes and call it what you like but Kiwis in charge of a car or bike are cruel , arrogant , dangerous , ignorant , arrogant and have no respect for anyone sharing the road.

    New Zealanders have never had to seriously adhere to road safety rules or consider others they share the foot path or road with. Safe speed signs are only a guideline and yeah who does 10 or 20 in a carpark and if the pedestrian is not on a crossing then get out of the way.

    The move to merge the old M.O.T with the police in 1992 meant that road safety such as it was then was sold as the answer to wasteful M.O T resources that the already under resourced police force would find the time battling crims to turn their attention to roads safety and enforcement.

    For a country that put so much investment in health and safety legislation at work seems to fade away as we hop on our bike in sit in our comfortable motor vehicle and drive or cycle as if we DO ACTUALLY OWN THE ROAD.

    The sheer aggression and evil nastiness that i see every day on the paths and roads is horrifying and we have just learnt to accept it as normal behaviour. And the Police are no better with their ” its a minor misdemeanour ” i can’t be bothered enforcing the actual law written in the first place to provide a safe environment for those who want to arrive at their destination unscathed.

    I don’t blame the cyclists or the insane car drivers i blame the lack of enforcement with penalties to match and a rigid driver licence system that makes safety and courtesy a priority on our roads and path ways.

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