The Guardian Takes on the C-Word
This week’s reprobate as per your wisdom is the Guardian. More specifically, Laura Laker (contributor of the ‘bike blog’) asks: “[s]hould we stop using the word ‘cyclist’?” This, because many road users see cyclists as less than human, and for them to stop calling them the c-word would stop violence and aggression toward bike-using human beings. But before dismissing this as Laura’s throwback to the secondary school sociology classes she took, let us analyse.
The article begins by Laura offering some unsolicited harassment to a repair man who fixed her oven:
“As the repair man rummaged around in my gas oven, I tried to explain something to him about cyclists.”
“We ‘cyclists’ are no more a homogenous group than you ‘vannists’, I said.”
Condolences to the repair man who after tirelessly scraping Laura’s organic quinoa out of the oven, then also had to endure what can only constitute harassment at the workplace.
Said vannist, who may as well have arrived on a pogo stick as far as her readers are aware, ‘eventually saw her point’. Laura graciously gave him the credit he so desired. He was quite sharp for a mere repair man.
What is Laura talking about? She claims that she is often asked to defend cyclists, just because she, too, rides a bike. Upsetting stuff. Laura feels this is not right. Not all cyclists are equal! But above all they are humans. Sadly, Laura is tired of ‘a bit of banter’ about cyclists, and no longer wishes to pursue her calling as guardian of the cyclists:
In the past I’ve been up for a bit of banter on the radio or on TV, in which I end up defending all cyclists, but I just haven’t had the heart for it lately. I turned down LBC twice last week – it just gets a bit exhausting sometimes. So here’s to some positivity
— Laura Laker (@Lakerlikes) April 2, 2019
Enough with the positivity; according to Laura, the term ‘cyclist’ and its validity is up for debate (a debate between Laura and oven repairpeople?) since a study found 31% of people find cyclists “less than human”. This study also found that dehumanisation of people who cycle is linked to aggression towards them. Still following? She specifies, “if you see a person as less than fully human, you are more likely to deliberately drive at them, block them with your vehicle or throw something at them, the study found.”
In a beautiful Hollywood ending to the glorified blog she writes, “[w]e are all human, using the roads to go somewhere, trying to live our lives.” Her solution? To have one word for people who cycle for transport, another for people who cycle for sport (because those with road rage can then target their aggression between ‘commuter tossers’ and ‘leisure tossers’?) and for us all to remember we are all people, no matter how we use roads.
Quick Laura, please come up for some new terms for women, muslims and Theresa May to put a stop to the aggression once and for all! In the meantime…