Friday, May 9, 2008

The Vicious Cycle Of Rage

It’s hard to believe that any person could be so inhuman as to perpetrate the outrageous incident that took place at Mascot where a driver is alleged to have deliberately braked in front of a group of cyclists, causing an immense pile up. Fifty cyclists were brought to the ground, and traffic behind them was also thrown into chaos, with a semi trailer jack-knifing in an effort to avoid the incident. More than twenty cyclists were injured and it is amazing that no one was killed. These cyclists were engaged in an early morning training ride, and have every right to use the roadways just like everybody else.

It has emerged that the driver involved claims he had engine trouble and was simply trying to pull over, but the cyclists who were there dispute that claim. Either way, the sort of rage which is alleged to be involved is surprisingly common. Everyday, motorists emboldened by their metal skins and powerful engines take it upon themselves to decide that only motorists are entitled to be on the road and to abuse cyclists for having the audacity to encroach upon their territory. Motorists who might seem like relatively normal people in everyday life become rabid animals striking out without sanity or reason, motivated by the most primal of instincts.

Of course it’s not just cyclists who are the victims of road rage, but they are much more vulnerable than people in cars and become easy targets because they are out in the open. Road rage is a frightening phenomenon in any form, but when it leads to the sort of physical attack we have seen this week where the motor vehicle is deliberately used as a weapon it’s time for everybody to take a deep breath and rethink our attitudes.

Yes, there may be scope for better regulation of where cycles can and cannot be used, for improved facilities for both cyclists and motorists, for safety regulations to be improved. But ultimately the real issue here is the question of how we behave towards each other in society and in particular on the road. It’s time to remember that we all have a duty of care to respect each others rights and safety, not a duty to assert our own primacy by inflicting harm or abuse on others.

Just remember, it could be your son or daughter, brother or sister on that bicycle.

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