Nope, cyclists have no room to move, not just on the roads but in terms of winning friends and influencing people, writes Philip Gomes.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Nope, cyclists have no room to move, not just on the roads but in terms of winning friends and influencing people.

Yesterday's headlines, 'Sydney bus driver bashed in road rage attack' and 'Irate cyclist attacks bus driver', do nothing to help the cause.


The incident is easy enough to narrate: Cyclist allegedly (and illegally) rides in
T-Way lane, igniting a conflict that has resulted in police looking for
a man who is described as 178cm tall, of European appearance, aged in
his 30s and wearing a blue helmet and cycling clothes at the time of
the incident.

Transport Workers Union spokesman Darcy Waller
said the cyclist "got all upset because the bus overtook him" on a road
he shouldn't be using."

He went on to say, "He was dressed like
Cadel Evans and still wearing his helmet as he pushed past a woman and
started throwing punches at this driver."

That last statement in particular by the TWU's Waller is one that makes you sit up and take notice.

As expected, comments
by readers in response to these media reports aren't generally in
cyclists favour. And if the facts suggested in this case hold, difficult to argue against.

Already the incident has led at least one commentator to suggest that Magda Szubanski should never have apologised to cyclists for her involvement in a skit on Good News Week.

Also, there is the inevitable confused and cliche ridden tabloid beat-up, commissioned by an editor looking to generate more page views and 'reader engagement' through conflict.

There
is no question bad news involving cyclists resonate with the broader
non-cycling community - with the story trending online at the top of
the 'most read' news items of the day yesterday.

Of course
the anti-cyclist sentiment expressed as a result of this incident is
silly. You can no more brand all cyclists as evil road users as you can
all motorists as planet killers.

However, perception in this media saturated world has become reality. And the way the news business works plays into this.

What's the old adage? Dog bites man isn't a story, man bites dog is.

We
are, all of us, ultimately responsible for our own actions, no matter
our preferred mode of transport, but we are also members of society and
of a community, and as such we do have a responsibility to act in the
'greater good' for both.

What that means is that we owe it
to our fellow citizens and the community of cyclists, to keep our cool
at all times and our wits around us. Think twice, and yes, turn the
other cheek.

To not only obey the road rules, but to be seen
to be doing so despite the frustrations we often experience doing what
we do, and acknowledge when we are in the wrong.

We need to do all this in order to give ourselves the space to move that does win us friends in the broader community.