It’s fair to say that the internet is full of opinion. When it comes to cyclists much of that opinion, as far as I can tell, seems to be on the verge of rage.
Cyclists are dangerous. Cyclists are untrustworthy. Cyclists should not be allowed on the road. Cyclists should pay road tax. There are a lot of angry people out there who do not like cyclists. Not…one…bit!
Although when I say the internet is full, strictly speaking it’s not, and mores the pity really, because just when you think you’ve heard it all there seems to be room for more lunatic fringe opinion.
Like this little gem:
According to the boss of London’s biggest taxi driver’s association, “cyclists are the ISIS of London”.
OK, so presumably you’ve just picked yourself up off the floor having fallen off your chair in disbelief at that, but yes, you read that correctly; ISIS, as in the Islamic extremist group currently terrorising, kidnapping, controlling, and attempting to establish a worldwide caliphate whilst simultaneously manipulating the world’s media to act as their PR department.
And cyclists, as in…well, people who ride bikes.
And so we’re apparently being led to believe that cyclists are now on the attack in a manner which resembles what is currently one of the world’s most feared terrorist organisations. I have to say, of all the cyclists I’ve met I have never once suspected they would make a suitable recruit for ISIS.
I’ve come across cyclists with pretty strong opinions about stuff, don’t get me wrong, including those who vehemently hate motorists (and come to think of it, I’ve met some who hate other cyclists too…and pedestrians for that matter) but not to the point where they feel compelled to spread their message by forcibly taking control of large swathes of the country.
But hang on a minute; let’s get beyond the initial incredulity of that headline and look at what’s really going on here.
In the interest of promoting a more balanced perspective I should point out that later on in this story – y’know, a couple of paragraphs below the dramatic headline – this taxi boss does distance himself from the ISIS comparison, making the point that giving opinions under pressure in a live interview doesn’t always lead to the most balanced views; but the Telegraph headline doesn’t contain that distinction.
So perhaps this isn’t a taxi boss making a comparison between cyclists and Islamic extremists (again, just writing that sentence with a straight face is difficult), but rather a prominent national newspaper spotting an opportunity to do just that, and in the process generate clicks, comment, outrage, and yes, blog posts like this one by people like me.
Is that what it boils down to?
The ongoing debate/argument/mud-slinging contest between cyclists and motorists makes for good ‘content’ (as I believe this kind of thing is called these days). A good dollop of international terrorism is hardly going to harm the viewing/clicking figures is it?
Which probably makes the headline “cyclists are the ISIS of London” something approaching the perfect storm.