Category Archives: Speed

Hate Media Inc.’s 45-point Style Guide for writing nasty pieces about cyclists

Got a quick column to write about evil cyclists? Need some pointers for a radio script poking fun at those misguided people who ride bicycles when they ought to drive cars? We’ve got your back here at Hate Media Inc.* In our definitive, 45-point Style Guide we show you the correct and proper way to blame cyclists for everything, including air pollution, traffic congestion and wasteful spending on boondoggle cycleways.

As an outgroup – “them,” not “us” – cyclists are fair game and they are easily triggered (which is good for your web traffic). But be aware that cyclists have no sense of humour, see #13, especially when you joke about killing them.

In your columns and scripts it is critical to mention that ALL cyclists are guilty of the transgressions listed below. When writing about motorists it is acceptable to write some drivers.


1. ALL cyclists run red lights.

Some motorists may also be guilty of such rare transgressions but they are rogue and unrepresentative.


2. Cyclists always ride on the pavement.

Cyclists should get off roads designed for motorists and ride on the pavement instead.


3. Cyclists that ride in cities at 20mph are clearly riding too fast for the conditions and will almost certainly kill pedestrians.

It’s crazy talk to expect motorists to travel as cripplingly slow as 20mph.


4. Cyclists ride two abreast, blocking the road.

Don’t mention the fact that motorists, even when driving solo, ride two abreast all of the time.


5. Cyclists no longer tinkle little bells to warn pedestrians.

Cyclists expect pedestrians to jump out of the way when they rudely ring their stupid bells.


6. Cyclists are paupers that cannot afford cars.

Cyclists are wealthy elites that own expensive carbon bikes which get in the way of poor people in cars just trying to earn a crust.

7. Not enough cyclists wear helmets.

Cyclists wear mushrooms on their heads, haha!


8. Cyclists don’t ride with lights.

Cyclists dazzle motorists with their flashing lights.


9. Cyclists who ride with earbuds deserve it when they get run over and killed.

Motorists should be able to listen to loud music in their cars if they want to. It is not as though it is a distraction.


10. Cyclists are smug treehuggers.

Cyclists emit CO2, endangering the planet.


11. Cyclists cause pollution because of all the motorists stuck behind them forced to drive slowly.

Ergo, no cyclists, no pollution.


12. Cycling is something you grow out of, it’s only for children not adults.

Children should stick to parks and should not be allowed to cycle on roads.


13. Too few cyclists are killed.

Jeez, cyclists can’t take a joke.


14. Cycling is leisure.

A motorist driving to the gym (to ride on a stationary bike) is a legitimate road user.


15. Spending half a million on a cycleway is a subsidy too far, an incredible waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.

Spending billions on new roads for more motoring is an investment.


16. Society should pay for roads for motorists.

Cyclists should pay for cycleways.

17. Cyclists use the roads as a gym; they should ride on a velodrome instead.

Motorists have places to get to, you know.


18. A cyclist going near a motorist’s sacrosanct car is a “jerk.”

Motorists should not give cyclists lots of space when overtaking them because that would waste, what, two seconds?


19. Cyclists should wear yellow hi-viz jackets at all times for their own safety.

Motorists can choose whatever colour car they like: stealth grey is currently the most popular. Car? What car?


20. Cycleways are an incredible waste of space.

Motorists should be provided with masses of free parking.


21. Roads are dangerous so taking children to school by bicycle is criminally irresponsible.

It’s perfectly acceptable for motorists to rush their children to school in oversized SUVs and then to park right next to school gates. Kids not in cars are fair game.


22. Dockless bikes and scooters clutter the streets.

Cars parked everywhere is totes okay.


23. Cyclists don’t have to cycle, it’s a hairshirty, eco-loopy personal choice.

I HAVE to drive everywhere.


24. Cycleways take up too much road space.

Roads should be widened for motorists, and especially today’s wider cars.

25. Cycle parking corrals are a waste of valuable space and, if they are to exist at all, should be hidden away.

A parking spot right outside the cafe/my house/local shop is a God-given right.


26. Cyclists exhibit devious entitlement by demanding safety on the roads.

Motorists never exhibit any form of entitlement ever.


27. Cycling on the sidewalk is a heinous crime.

It’s necessary for motorists to half-wheel sidewalks, where else is there to park?


28. Cyclists should always use the cycleways provided for them at great expense, no matter how badly surfaced or stupidly routed the cycleway might be.

Motorists should have access to every road everywhere, and these roads should be butter smooth.


29. Cyclists should be happy with cycleways that don’t go direct to destinations because they are riding for recreation not transport.

Motorists should be provided with the most direct routes possible because motoring is transport.


30. Cyclists dress funny, they are all Lycra Louts.

Motorists are normal members of society and don’t wear silly clothes.


31. Plans for a short stretch of cycleway should be put out to public consultation and should be blocked if it requires the loss of any car parking spaces whatsoever.

Hugely expensive road projects will cure congestion so should always be nodded through.


32. It’s “accident.”

Never “crash.”


33. Remember, it’s “the cyclist collided with” not “the cyclist was hit by” a car.


34. Driverless cars roam the streets, so it’s “Four injured as car smashes into house” not “Four injured as motorist crashes car into house.”

On the other hand, always mention the mode of transport when it involves a miscreant who happens to have been riding a bicycle. So, it’s “Cyclist strangled cat,” but never “Motorist strangled cat.”


35. Cyclists dangerously weave in and out of traffic.

It’s okay for motorists to switch lanes if there’s a gap in traffic.

36. Cyclists should not ride up the inside of trucks, putting themselves in danger.

It’s okay for truck drivers to overtake cyclists, putting these cyclists on the inside.


37. Cycleways can start and end in the middle of nowhere.

Roads for motorists should be hyper-connected.


38. Cyclists who ride fast are scofflaws.

Motorists may break the speed limit from time to time, but these are arbitrary war-on-the-motorist rules and, anyway, we are just trying to get somewhere in a reasonable length of time, the police should be out there catching real criminals.


39. Cyclists who kill pedestrians deserve jail-time.

Motorists who kill pedestrians didn’t mean to so shouldn’t even be charged, never mind jailed.


40. Any bicyclist in front of a motorist is “in the way” and has to be overtaken swiftly and aggressively.

Any car in front of a motorist is just how it is and it’s fine to wait patiently behind because it’s not like you’re going to get anywhere any faster.


41. Electric cars should be subsidised.

Electric bikes are a luxury, middle class items and should never be subsidised.


42. A motorist’s time is more important than a cyclist’s life.


43. Roads were not built for bicyclists.


44. Cyclists are very angry people, always shaking their fists.

Why do cyclists get so defensive about being nudged from behind by my bumper, cut up on corners or nearly being sideswiped when I shot out of that junction without looking for anything other than other motor vehicles? It’s a total mystery.


45. Cycling is weird. Driving is normal.


* Naturally, Hate Media Inc. doesn’t exist, it’s a fictional representation of those mainstream media outlets that allow columnists and shock jocks to write or say things about cyclists that would never be said about other groups in society. This post was inspired by an earlier “Bingo card” and a Twitter thread.

Just 2 percent of motorists plan to be nicer to cyclists in 2017, finds AA poll


According to the AA more than half of its members plan to drive less in 2017. The poll of 17,979 AA members found that the most common New Year’s driving resolution was to walk more. Ten percent will also try to cycle more.

But the least popular resolution – with less than 2 percent of all respondents selecting it – was “I will try to be more courteous to cyclists”. There was a disappointingly similar result for “I will try to park legally more often.”


Populus received 17,979 responses from AA members to its online poll between 13th and 20th December 2016.

Speed sells

Cycling has many well-understood health and economic benefits but a key benefit is often overlooked – urban nippiness. Motorists slow to a crawl in “rush” hour; those on bicycles don’t. Many people perceive cycling to be a slow form of transport, which it is, if you have to undertake a long journey. Short hops are swift on a bike. There’s a chapter on the history of speed in Roads Were Not Built For Cars, and I’ll explore the subject again in Bike Boom.


The illustration above is by Italian Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni. The sketch was used for Boccioni’s “Dynamism of a Cyclist”, below, painted in 1913. I prefer the sketch because it’s a more graphic illustration of cycling’s dynamism.


Raleigh bicycle poster 1932

Raleigh stressed speed in the 1932 advert above, even though it was selling utility bikes to women.

Speed doesn’t have to mean head down, sweat and Lycra. Cycle routes which steer away from the fastest A to B routes may direct cyclists away from motorised traffic but it’s not just MAMILs who want to follow ‘desire lines’, the shortest and more desirable routes.

In the UK, dedicated cycle routes are often circuitous, interrupted by junctions where cyclists do not have priority. They can add precious time to journeys. For cycleways to be effective, they must be not only made safe for hesitant cyclists, they must be made fast. By fast, read direct.

Copenhagen traffic light greenwave

Copenhagen does this well. Traffic lights propel cyclists on a ‘Green wave’: pedal at 20kmh and you hit green for much of your journey. The green wave is set to work best towards the city centre in the morning rush hour; and away from the city centre at 12 to 6pm.

Those who use their bikes to get to work want to arrive in the least time possible. When cycleways are provided, they need to be very wide, and well designed. For many of today’s advocates this means one, Dutch-style network rather than a fast network for MAMILs and a slower network for 8 and 80 year olds.

This hasn’t always been the preferred option. In 1996, the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, writing about bike paths, said:

“The fast cycle commuter must not be driven off the highway onto a route that is designed for a 12-year-old or a novice on a leisure trip, because if that happens, the whole attempt to enlarge the use of the bicycle will have failed.”

While the “dual network” approach is now largely discredited it’s worthwhile looking at that phrase “fast cycle commuter”. It does not just have to mean a young, fit, male cyclist on a carbon road bike. Dutch roadsters can be pedalled fast, and so can “Santander Boris Bikes”. For some people, bicycles might be “aids to walking” but if bikes travelled no faster than pedestrians, why cycle at all?

Joe Breeze with Breezer #1 (built 1977)

In 2011 I chatted about speed with Joe Breeze, one of the founding fathers of mountain biking. He may have built the first designed-for-the-job clunker (it was Gary Fisher who helped popularise the name ‘mountain bike’) but Breeze got into the bike biz to spread his love of utility cycling, cycling from town to town. His father built race cars in California, but rode to work on a bicycle. Breeze Jnr started racing bikes to prove what Raleigh and others had been promoting: that bicycles are fast.

“In the 1970s, I saw road racing as a stepping stone. Bicycles in America were seen as a children’s sidewalk toy, for riding round your neighbourhood only. I saw cycling, through my father, as a way to get somewhere. And through racing you could show people how quickly you can get from A to B. Maybe there’d be a little squib in the newspaper about it the next day and people would go ‘oh, you can get from A to B in a short amount of time.’”

Speed – to and from work – remains important. A survey of Copenhagen bicycle users found that the number one reason people ride is because it’s faster than any other mode of transport. Fifty-five percent of Copenhagen riders said they bike because it’s fast. Only 9 percent of Copenhagen bicycle users ride because it’s deemed good for the environment.

So, when pushing for dedicated bicycle infrastructure we must always bear in mind that today, and in the past, speed has always gone hand in hand with convenience. Make cycling slow and it loses a big part of its appeal.


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