A month ago, the television game show Family Feud, set fire to the Twitterverse with this question: ‘What is something annoying cyclists do?’ The highest scoring categories, which the contests had to predict, including such gems as ‘Riding in the driving lane’, ‘wearing lycra’, and, my personal favourite, ‘everything’. You might argue with me about the extent that Family Feud is an barometer of social values in this country, but I fear that it might not be too wide of the mark!
I gave up reading online ‘debates’ (I use the term very loosely) about cycling a few years ago. While my rational self knew that the violent, hateful comments on such forums were not a representative sample of my fellow citizens, I simply found it too distressing to be reminded that people would even articulate such thoughts. Social media platforms have provided a megaphone for extreme opinions that I just do not need to hear. My head, however, is not in the sand. Sadly, as a keen cyclist, I am frequently reminded that some members of the community hold my chosen mode of transport in low esteem.
How did it come to this?
In response to the Family Feud provocation, I’m giving a talk this weekend at the National Museum of Australia in response to the question: “Is cycling normal?” I picked this title because the implication of the Family Feud question is that cycling is a fringe activity, illegitimate and out of step with regular society. My talk will explore the historical currents of today’s most contentious cycling issues: right to the road, red lights, helmet laws, MAMILS and how cyclists of all kinds have been represented in the broader culture. I will also look at some inspirational developments from around the world and suggest what we can do to shift the current debate so we can generate a little less heat and a lot more light.
Come along and join the discussion.
Is Cycling Normal? The past, present and future of cycling in Australia
National Museum of Australia, Saturday 21 February 10am – 12 noon. $10/$15. Refreshments included.