Friday, 6 November 2015

An open letter to Yvette Caster


I've seen your article regarding cyclists and the reaction it has caused through Twitter.

Given the backlash you're receiving, I wanted to write you an email in the hope that you might take time to digest it, rather than dismiss my criticism as trolling.

I'd like to address two points. Firstly, the damage that articles like this do to people like me.

As a cyclist, I can tell you that I suffer from a sense of entitlement that some drivers have when using the roads. Whether it's the incorrect belief that drivers pay for the roads but cyclists don't, or just impatience at having to wait 10 seconds to overtake, the manifestation is driving that endangers my life. Every day.

Your article stirs up those feelings of hatred and just simply help make things worse.

If you feed these negative perceptions and these flawed beliefs about cyclists as a group, you're helping people justify the hatred in their own mind and fueling bad behaviour on the roads. It's not helpful when we should be protecting vulnerable road users.

The second point is to address the inaccuracies within your article.

Maybe you've written it with an element of sarcasm, I don't know. But it doesn't come across that way.

You claim that cyclists 'hold up traffic'. No, they are traffic. And you know what? You'll spend far longer queuing behind cars than you will behind cyclists. There's simply no question that the more people who cycle, the less congested the roads are and the quicker your journey will be. Surely I don't need to get into the detail of that - you're an intelligent woman, I suspect.

Perhaps you're frustrated at waiting 10 seconds to overtake a cyclist? In which case, I'd take a look at yourself rather than the cyclist.

You claim that cyclists cause accidents. Do they? No statistic I have ever seen suggests that this is a big problem. Now motorists causing accidents - that is a massive issue. I'm not really sure how you can criticise cyclists for causing accidents, as a motorist, whilst keeping a straight face. A little hypocritical, no?

You claim that cyclists are rude by cycling two abreast. This is difficult, because most people who don't cycle don't realise that actually, by grouping together, cyclists make it easier for you to overtake. A long line of single file cyclists is more difficult to overtake, if you are doing it properly.

Indeed, sometimes, riding two abreast actually forces motorists to overtake properly by using the other side of the road.

Yeh sure, some cyclists are rude. So are some drivers. A lot of drivers. I don't see people generalising motorists by using drunk driving as a stick to beat all motorists with, so why should you be allowed to attack all cyclists because some are rude?

If you want to apply collective responsibility, then let's talk about the number of speeding motorists, the number of people killed by motorists, the mobile phone using motorists. Are you really in any position to take some sort of moral highground?

It's rank hypocrisy.

Road users are people. Some people are rude. Some people break the law. That's not exclusive to cyclists!

Then finally, you ask cyclists to 'get off our roads'. Yvette, they're not your roads. A cyclist has as much right to the road as you do. That attitude is appalling and I hope for your sake that you are joking, because if you are not, then it is only a matter of time before you hurt someone.

You have received a lot of criticisim because you deserve to.

You can flap your arms and blame the 'cycling mafia' for attacking you, if you like. Ignorance is bliss, after all. But perhaps one day next week, step back and have a good think about whether what you have written is remotely respectable journalism.

Because from where I am sitting, you have chosen to take something that irritates you and written an article attacking it.

Only, in doing so, you've neglected to consider the effect it has on people like me who have our lives endanged every single day, simply for choosing to cycle to work instead of driving.

Please, have some humility and accept that maybe you made a mistake here.

Or, of course, you can continue to blame everyone else and just use cyclists as a form of clickbait.


1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of Yvette Caster, so I don't know who she is or what she believes gives her authority on this subject.
    I would not class myself as 'a cyclist'. Although I have cycled for most of the last 30 years I have also driven a car for all of the last 50 years. The only claim I would make is that I am a pretty fair minded person.
    So - what do I think of Caster's article? Well, I've heard it all before from other intolerant tub thumpers. What she has written is almost all factually incorrect - and definitely no more than a mindless rant.