Dangerous stereotyping

There are so many irritating ads on television that if I were to write about each one of them I’d never find time to write about anything else. However, there is one ad I that caught my attention today, and left me seething.

I had actually seen this ad before, on in the background but had never paid attention to it. Today, for the first time I noticed the ad in full. It’s the latest AIB ad duping young people into long-term debt. The ad depicts a young dickhead buying his first car, courtesy of a loan from a bank, a bank that only exists and has money to lend because it was rescued by our quisling governments using tax-payer money. So the, bank are actually lending money back to people, at interest, having taken the money from them in the first place.

Anyway, this little shite buys his first car with his first loan* and the ad runs through other ‘firsts’ in life. First hitchhiker, first shift, first parking ticket etc. It also mentions ‘first biker’. Shown in the picture above, the cycling is remonstrating with the young ballbag behind the steering wheel. This is depicted as being a normal, everyday situation that all drivers have to deal with. There is a media narrative that all cyclists are irrationally angry and aggressive towards drivers, and that having such an exchange as in the ad is a normal part of being a driver. This is a dangerous narrative, as it increases antagonism towards cyclists, already the most vulnerable people on the road.

What’s our reward for being health- and environmentally- conscious? It seems to be being a target for aggressive drivers. In an exchange I had with a taxi driver, who almost hit me pulling across a cycle lane and then blocking it, his exact words were: “I can pull up wherever I want. You cyclists think you own the road.” I realised that trying to point out the contradictory nature of what he’s just said would be pointless. I just had to laugh and cycle away. That was a few months ago, and I’m not sure if it was the same psychotic taxi driver that deliberately droveĀ into a cyclist just last week. This entire piece could be stories about aggressive drivers, but I’ll move on.

Before doing so, I am absolutely aware that there are some dickhead cyclists out there. I see them every day myself. There are also dickhead pedestrians. And of course dickhead drivers. However, I don’t know of any car, van, or truck drivers that have been killed in collisions with cyclists. The reverse is not true. Cycling can be lethal. And often is. You can be the most careful and conscientious cyclist in the road, and still get murdered by a speeding driver, a driver on their phone, or a drunk driver. How would a cyclist fare on the road at the same time as this cunt?

Driving is such a part of modern living that people forget that by simply moving their right foot they are propelling at least a tonne of metal at speed. Much more for busses, vans, and trucks. I’m not sure that many people even stop for a second and think about this. There have been 110 road deaths in Ireland this year (7 cyclists). All of these are preventable.

None of these deaths were caused by cyclists. Yet cyclists are the ones portrayed as being a menace. There was, tragically, a women in a collision with a cyclist in London two years ago. This story, and the trial and sentencing, got media blanket coverage. Where is the blanket coverage for every cyclist killed on the road? There is none. Just footnotes and statistics.

I see arguments against cyclists frequently (sometimes I can’t help metaphorically stabbing myself in the eyeball by reading online comment sections). Tempting and all as it is to get involved, I (almost) always restrain myself. Arguing with strangers and trolls online is utterly pointless. But if I were to engage, I would address these four points that are often made about cyclists:

  • Cyclists always jump red lights. Yep. Some do. Most don’t. I admit to occasionally doing it, when it’s a pedestrian crossing, and there is nobody actually crossing. And I don’t do this at intersections. At them, I dismount and walk through. Or just wait. But yeah, I’ve seen cyclists doing it frequently. Do drivers? Watch the junction between Patrick St and High St in the afternoon rush hour and get back to me. I see these every day I cycle home. Still don’t believe me? Check out this report.
  • Cyclists should always be in the cycle lane. No, actually. It’s the opposite Drivers can’t use the cycle lanes. Cyclists have the choice. Cycle lanes are often blocked, and in many places aren’t even contiguous. And if we have to stay in the cycle lane, how do we turn right? Or go straight at 2/3 lane junctions when cars are turning left across us?
  • Cyclists can’t cycle two abreast. Wrong again. Cyclists are entitled to use the same amount of space as other vehicles. Two abreast is actually recommended on country roads, as it makes cyclists more visible and forces drivers to slow down and only overtake when there is no oncoming traffic. A motorist is always ‘two abreast’. Even without a passenger, they take up (more than) the width of two car seats on the road. Maybe they should saw their cars in half if they want to use this argument.
  • Cyclists don’t pay road tax. This is my favourite. And drivers who say this are actually technically correct. Cyclists don’t pay road tax. However, neither does anyone else. It did exist in Victorian times, but was abolished in the early 20th century. Drivers do pay motor tax. Many don’t seem to have figured out why cyclists don’t pay this. The clue is in the name. And cyclists, like everybody else, do pay for roads, as that comes from general taxation.

I have used the first person when referring to cyclists for the purposes of this article. I am a cyclist. I am also a pedestrian. I don’t have a driving licence (did the test once, failed. It would seem that you actually have to have a car to practice for the test. I have no intention of buying one though). Therefore I don’t refer to myself as a driver. However, many people own both bikes and cars. Those drivers that actually cycle are much more aware of the roads when they are behind the wheel itself, unlike AIB and whatever marketing agency they used for that disgusting ad. They have no regard for people on bikes. Once again, over to you Bill.



*the suggestion of ‘first loan’ is also quite insidious. Normalising a lifetime of debt that this and future generations are beholden to.