News about accidents and fatalities on our roads – regardless of people’s mode of transport – is always terribly sad. If the incident involved a person on bicycles it can be particularly intimidating for other people on bicycles.
Unfortunately bad news is always a great angle. Media outlets thrive on it like mushrooms on manure. We love to focus on problems. Accident between two people – one in a car the other on a bike – makes great headlines and it solicits opinions. We love problems and love our opinions about the problems even more!
If there’s any doubt about that have a read of any random news article and scroll to the ensuing comments. The follow a reoccurring pattern: blame, shame, entitlement (I pay tax and you don’t), introduction of licensing for bicycles, further escalation. This is terribly good click bait (read: money).
What it also inadvertently does is creating an aura of threat, humiliation, negativity and fear. Riding a bicycle becomes dangerous undertaking were the perceived risk is disproportionate to its actual risk. For those who could hop on their treadlie for a short commute the mere thought of swapping to a bicycle becomes absurd. Why would you put yourself into harms way if you can drive and it’s much safer?
It’s very easy to get caught up in focusing on the dangers of riding a bicycle. With any activity there’s no denying that it involves some risks. However, the truth is, you can also slip in your shower, chop your vegies mistake your index finger for a carrot. Would you a) consider giving up showering and eating vegetables? and b) continuously talk about the perils of personal hygiene or food preparation? And c) would they actually stop you from doing either? No, I didn’t think so.
Many aspects of our daily life contain high levels of risk. In fact, you’re probably sitting comfortably in front of your computer or mobile phone reading this and completely disregarding the fact that sitting for prolonged times will cause serious diseases, shorten your life and eventually kill you. Will you stop you from sitting? Nah, didn’t think so.
Tragedies and accidents, unfortunately, are newsworthy and paint a stark picture of an activity that brings joy, ease and exhilarating happiness to many. The mundane daily ride may not a story that makes the front page. The routine is not news, but it doesn’t mean it’s completely boring.
Just it’s not a page turner it doesn’t diminish the impact of this daily dose of happiness which people experience when they swap their bicycle.
So, how do we find a balance between acknowledging the perils and sharing the good stuff? How can we make positivity part of how we talk about riding a bicycle? Exploring the many facets of the culture of riding a bicycle in Australia is certainly a way to do it.