It Will All End In Tears

A reasonable length road ride and a lot of bike riders about – it’s good too see. There’s a huge range of abilities and experience on display, with a sizable smattering of what look to be new riders amongst them; new but taking it seriously enough to have a decent chance of enjoying it.

That is one of those profoundly annoying things in life – having to take things seriously to give them a chance. If you ride a lousy bike and you don’t dress comfortably for it and you don’t have any help with the basics – from changing gear to riding in traffic – then you’re not going to enjoy it and you’ll more than likely give up. So many things are like that. If you want to try playing the guitar but buy a cheap one, because you’re “just giving it a go”, it will be much harder to play it and pretty well impossible to get a good sound out of it – you need to buy something that’s half-decent. And so on. I’m not saying you have to go in at the top with each and everything you do, but it really saddens me to see people buying cheap stuff that’s really is just rubbish, that they really would be better off not buying.

What’s even sadder is that people can sell this tat and sleep at night. No, they are not giving people a chance do something / experience something / enjoy something or whatever it is, even if they have little money. They are cruelly ripping people off – taking money from those who can least afford it and giving them nothing worthwhile in return. It’s a brutal fact that sometimes, if you can’t afford to do it then you’re better off not doing it, rather than trying to attempt it on the cheap – and that applies across any number of aspects of life. The justification for selling this kind of rubbish, that it’s giving everyone a chance to participate in whatever it is, is bogus. All they’re selling is frustration and disappointment and failure. And as for the people doing the buying, we all need to learn that it’s better to only buy something that’s worth having and if that’s not achievable then buy nothing at all. Something else they don’t teach in schools but probably ought to.

Anyway.

Along the route today there were a few of those signs saying how many accidents there have been on such-and-such stretch of road over such-and-such time span. Of course, they’re just meaningless, context-less assertions that are impossible to take seriously. What caused the accidents? How many road users have there been on that stretch in that time frame? Etc. That aside, the signs set me thinking about accidents, riding and the coming disaster.

I confidently predict that there is a disaster coming for some cyclists. For some, it will all end in tears.

I can say that because there are more cyclists. That means it is pretty well certain that there will be more accidents – more cyclists will get injured or die than was the case, say, two years beforehand.

To what extent they will be real accidents – wholly unforeseeable events that didn’t involve anyone who could have reasonably been expected to act differently – is an unexamined factor in most incidents that are called accidents but that’s another issue.

What the rise in accidents will mean is that at some point there will be some scary story by someone – a safety organisation or a government body or similar – that will be picked up on by media outlets and trumpeted loudly as evidence of the dangers of cycling, the dangers of being on the road and proof that we should all … I don’t know, wear helmets, wear body armour, stay indoors, stay in bed, only drive cars … or something. The story will be as meaningless as the ‘this road is dangerous because of all these accidents’ signs I saw today, just padded out more. And it will scare people, and put some people off cycling.