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91 per cent of cyclists have been victims of road rage

The results of road.cc’s latest poll show that nearly all cyclists have experienced some form of road rage.

The shocking result was gained after more than 200 people responded to the question: “Have you ever been the victim of road rage?”, on the road.cc website, showing that while cyclists may be hate figures in some quarters, they are far more sinned against than sinning.

Of the 222 people responding to the poll only nine per cent have never had a problem.

The majority (61 per cent) have suffered occasional verbal abuse, nine per cent have suffered regular verbal abuse and 22 per cent - almost a quarter of voters – have suffered worse than verbal abuse while cycling on the nation’s roads.

Comments on the website detailing specific incidents include a driver deliberately driving into a cyclist at a roundabout, drivers abandoning their cars to chase or confront cyclists on foot and a London cycling commuter who was punched in the face on two separate occasions after telling motorists they were driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Commenting on the results, road.cc editor Tony Farrelly said: “ Although cycling has got a vast amount going for it sadly all too often the attitudes of other road users aren't one of them. The poll result won't be a surprise to many cyclists for whom a certain level of abuse is a part of daily life, there is an awful lot of resentment towards cyclists out there, but then our roads are very angry places anyway.

"What is worrying is the high proportion of people, more than 20 per cent, who said they had been the subject of 'worse than verbal abuse'. It just shows how compelling the case for cycling is that despite all of this the numbers of cyclists continues to grow.”

The road.cc poll was conducted in response to recent stories on the website showing that anti-cyclist feelings run high amongst motorists and can be sparked by relatively minor cycling-related matters.

Last week road.cc ran stories about a filter lane on a York Street - which attracted a massive amount of anti-cycling comment in a very short time on the local paper's website, and a Guardian blog - supposedly a cycling one - which invited much the same response to a story about a cyclist as the victim of some pretty extreme violence.

We've also seen how different things are in Holland, which does make you wonder if Britain's roads are just angry places or whether cyclists are a particular target of that anger?

And the results are interesting when looked at against the increasing number of stories about police “crackdowns” against errant cyclists.

In Brighton and Hove, police have pledged to crack down on cyclists who ride irresponsibly saying cyclists themselves are to blame for a third of the accidents they are involved in. And who’s responsible for the other two-thirds?

A recent report in the Bath Chronicle says police issued 100 fixed penalty notices in the past six months to crack down on cyclists who break the rules, while cycling campaigners say the long-term answer is to create more cycle lanes in the city.

And here's a road.cc story about Edinburgh police’s crackdown on cyclists.

As always, the remedy to this situation is complicated and, cycling organisations say, a combination of improved road conditions combined with campaigns to increase the numbers of cyclists thereby increasing safety levels and general acceptance of cycling, as has happened in other countries.

What our road rage results show very clearly, however, is that cyclists in Britain suffer more than their fair share of abuse.

3 comments

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John_the_Monkey [436 posts] 6 years ago
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Two quotes sum things up for me - the first is from Hunter S. Thompson's "Hells Angels" (talking about motorcyclists, but I think it applies);

"The highways are crowded with people who drive as if their sole purpose in getting behind the wheel is to avenge every wrong ever done them by man, beast, or fate. The only thing that keeps them in line is their own fear of death, jail and lawsuits...which are much less likely if they can find a motorcycle to challenge instead of another two thousand pound car or a concrete abutment.

A motorcyclist has to drive [sic] as though everybody else on the road is out to kill him. A few of them are, and many of those who aren't are just as dangerous - because the only thing that can alter their careless, ingrained driving habits is a threat of punishment, either legal or physical, and there is nothing about a motorcycle to threaten any man in a car.

A bike is totally vulnerable; its only defence is manoeuvrability, and every accident situation is potentially fatal"

The second is something a poster called "Cab" said on the cyclechat.co.uk forum;

"They're angry to begin with. They're sitting there, burning expensive fuel in a vehicle that is depreciating by the minute, going nowhere fast. They're tetchy, they're irritable, they're easily upset. They see a cyclist doing something vaguely different, and their view isn't at all about what the cyclist is rationally doing wrong or what there may be that makes a real difference between a cyclist and a motorist, they simply vent their frustrations towards thoe who they perceive to be different.

And so many people are thus angry, tetchy and irritable in their cars all day that we've got a sort of national acceptance of bad road behaviour as the norm. It is expected that people will get angry at others who are different, its even tacity encouraged by referring to incidents of thuggish abuse as 'road rage'; people say 'Oh, I totally road raged at him...' as if yelling obscenities from a car window is just one of those things.

We are, as a nation, gripped by a sort of mass hysteria; get a car, drive around, conform, conform, CONFORM! And it is so pervasive that for many people mistreating cyclists is viewed as totally normal.

Its rather like racism 35 years ago. Its respectable to hate cyclists. And it has to change. And we don't change it by giving any credibility to the insane, out of proportion, snivelling criticisms from motorists."
( http://www.cyclechat.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=239842&postcount=11 )

I think the one plus for the commuting cyclist is that drivers do seem to get to "know" you if you're travelling the same route in. If you're a good, consistent and considerate rider, they'll learn where you need room, where you let them pass, etc etc, and commuting can start to get less fraught as time goes on.

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hammergonewest [105 posts] 6 years ago
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There's a lot of anger on the roads.

One of the reasons we are so aware of it as cyclists is that we're not cocooned inside a car, van, or lorry. If motorists weren't protected by a metal and glass box they wouldn't feel so confident about venting their anger on other road users.

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dave atkinson [6142 posts] 6 years ago
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hammergonewest wrote:

If motorists weren't protected by a metal and glass box they wouldn't feel so confident about venting their anger on other road users.

that's certainly true.
talking to one of the guys on the highclere ride it's clear he's had his fair share of idiots in novas/corsas/saxos/insert crap car here ranting past him and his mates and getting the bird for their efforts by the group. Sometimes they stop and get out, he said, at which point they realise they've made a serious error of judgment: without the metal box it's two boys versus ten large, fit and angry men.