Perceptions Of Cycling: Question Everything

After a sopping wet night there’s something ‘oo eck missus’ delightful about riding along a road surrounded by full-to-the-brim water courses. The lane leading to Sandford Mill was only just above the rising Loddon and all the lakes and channels around there.

Afer the rain of yesterday, today was a gorgeous day for cycling – just the right temperature, no strong wind and for the most part a classic English blue-sky-with-a-few-fluffy-white-clouds.

I spent a lot of the 40-odd miles in the territory between Reading and Windsor thinking about the issue of ‘who’s the victim’ that I started musing on after the last ride. As soon as you start unpicking things, things always get complicated.

Necessary complication isn’t inherently bad. Perhaps the best thing you can realise is the need to question.

I’d say it’s wrong to paint a picture of cyclists as actual or potential victims – vulnerable and ‘at risk’ whenever they’re out. There are millions of miles cycled without incident. There are millions of bike-car interactions that pass off perfectly happily. It’s easy to believe that ‘it’s very dangerous’ view of cycling, to feel it as a rider and to repeat it, but it’s wrong.

Once you start questioning the idea of who is the victim, then you quickly (should) start asking other questions too. Where does this perception come from? Is it in anyone’s interests to promote that perception? (When questioning interests, it’s always a good policy to ‘follow the money’ – i.e. think about who might gain financially.) Where did the perception originate and who is spreading it? Who’s influencing who’s spreading it?

And so on.

You have to be wary of your own questions and your own conclusions – they all need to be questioned too. (Developing into someone who sees a conspiracy in everything won’t do you or anyone else any favours.)

Ultimately, the question becomes: how many questions should you ask?

And the answer to that one should be: until you’re your own person, making up your own mind on the basis of verifiable evidence. And if we all did that, we’d end up with a very different and I dare say far happier society.