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16 April, 2004

Consider yourself disowned

The BBC reports that a man has been sentenced to 16 months in prison for slashing nearly 2,000 vehicle tyres in 10 days after being soaked by an inconsiderate motorist while cycling.  The BBC's characterisation of the offender as 'a cyclist' is a bit misleading, as he certainly doesn't represent cyclists, and I have no sympathy for him; the BBC seems to suggest he was a campaigner, but 'lone nut' is more accurate.  The offender's vandalism does nothing to help any alleged 'cause' of cyclists - if one inconsiderate driver made him angry, what is the relevance of 'punishing' 548 entirely different parked cars, lorries and vans?  Because all drivers act identically?  Untrue.  This division of people into homogenous mobs of 'cyclists' and 'drivers' is not only needlessly and unproductively adversarial, it's also inaccurate - many cyclists drive too.

A fact that makes this action even more stupid is that if he wanted to act against that one driver, he could have stayed within the law. As the AA says in a supplementary BBC report, drivers who drench cyclists or other road users by driving through puddles or cause them to fall off their bikes can face a 2,500 fine and up to nine penalty points on their licences for driving without due care and attention.

Yes, there are inconsiderate drivers and inconsiderate cyclists - mutual consideration is the way forward; confrontation and demonisation are pointless. And dangerous.

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