Words by Alan Ramsey of Road Peace
With the rise in anti-Semitism, MP’s have proposed that those spreading racial hatred online should be treated like sex offenders and served “Asbos” restricting their online access and possibly banning them from social media sites.
From ‘God I fxxxxxg hate cyclists using the road’, to postcards which read: ‘I always hate cyclists’; ‘Everyone hates cyclists’; ‘Either way, I hate cyclists’ and much worse, then shouldn’t cyclists also be entitled to ‘Asbo’ type protection? (Just type 'cyclists into a Twitter search bar on any given day for examples, the below are from last hour alone - strong language warning.)
Just as the Jewish community have suffered physical and verbal abuse, so too have cyclists. There is evidence of throwing eggs etc., from as far back as the 60’s. Indeed, given evidence posted on You Tube, it would appear the cycling community suffers as much, if not more than the Jewish community.
And, the recent comment from Transport for London board member Sir John Armitt: "I would say the biggest danger to London cyclists on the roads in London are actually themselves", could bring about even more.
Also, with them being compared with ISIS extremists by a London taxi boss, this too could aggravate matters. While it’s said that, the vast majority of drivers are law abiding, it only needs a handful to spread fear. In 2013, 896 cyclists were victims of hit-and-run collisions in London alone.
Hate crime against race or religion, is easy to prove! For a cyclist however, it’s all too easy for a hate-filled driver to deny any wrong doing – “He swerved in front of me.”
Sharing the roads with huge lumps of metal can be terrifying at the best of times. Even with the governments ‘THINK Cyclist’ publications, the (little known) advice: ‘Cyclists Ride Central On Narrow Roads’, could attract all manner of abuse from a driver short on patience. Realistically, this can only be identified by a head-cam!
Constantly in the ‘firing line’, then without tougher laws, cyclists could effectively be ‘sitting ducks’, not least on the narrow country lanes which make up much of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.