When I post blogs with videos depicting bad drivers, I get a wide range of reactions from readers.
If the videos show a driver risking the lives of other drivers, the response in emails and Facebook messages usually consists of thoughtful self-reflection with recommendations and solutions. Here is an example of one video.
But if the videos show a driver being a dangerous jerk to a cyclist or a pedestrian, well, that’s a far different story.
It’s like someone set these drivers’ hair on fire.
What follows these blogs are drivers embarking on a quest to somehow prove that the cyclists or the pedestrians are the real problem on Burnaby roads.
This week, I posted two blogs with helmet-cam video clearly showing drivers doing dangerous things around a cyclist for no other reason than they were upset by their mere presence. Here is one. Here is the second.
I received an avalanche of responses from drivers that split into two basic camps.
The first camp consisted of drivers who examined the footage like it was the Zapruder film and they were going to prove to me that the drivers somehow didn’t do anything wrong. This despite the videos clearly showing the opposite. These drivers kept complaining about the cyclist on Kingsway being "in the way" of the driver, even though the cyclist had every right to be in that right-hand lane.
The second camp consisted of this argument: “Yeah, the drivers did something bad, BUT!!!”
The “but” is followed by a variety of excuses, from saying drivers were just fed up with cyclists, to condemning me for the tone of my blogs.
“The driver did come too close to the cyclist but hyperbole serves to deepen the divide between motorists and cyclists, not bridge it,” wrote one reader.
So, when I write about drivers deliberately coming close to maiming a cyclist, I should do so in a more respectful tone. See, I’m the one causing the divide between drivers and cyclists with my hyperbole.
One reader accused me of having a “pro-cyclist agenda.” Dude, I don’t even own a bike. The only agenda I have is a “for-the-love-of-god-please-don’t-kill-cyclists” agenda.
And I feel that since a cyclist was recently killed by a driver on Gaglardi Way, perhaps a little hyperbole is needed in order to save lives.
So, the same bad behaviour depicted in videos, but far different reactions when that bad behaviour involves a cyclist.
Why is that?
Why does the hatred of cyclists burn so deep that drivers are willing to risk the lives of people who are defenceless by “buzzing” them (as one cyclist called it) – and then semi-defending those actions?
That’s a big question to unpack. There are a lot of reasons, but I’ll supply one from this driver’s point of view.
Cyclists (and pedestrians) make it harder for drivers to be terrible at driving.
That’s it. For me, that’s the crux of it.
When cyclists and pedestrians are around, crappy drivers have less leeway to be crappy drivers.
Drivers want to drive really fast and then screech to a halt at a red light, often drifting into a crosswalk. But those pesky cyclists and pedestrians make it so hard to do that.
When drivers are not paying attention on the road, or are legally drunk, cyclists and pedestrians mean they have less margin for error when they drift or run a stop sign.
And that pisses drivers off. How dare defenceless people get in their way when they late for work and driving like maniacs?
Yeah, I know, so much hyperbole. I’m driving a wedge between these two groups.
I’m the problem.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.