Guest Article: Down with the YJA
Bicycles and automobiles- can’t we all just get along? @Kah writes about this universal (do aliens have this issue also?) problem of us co-existing with humans in cars. We all drive cars too and have cursed the occasional cyclists for some good reason. Cars are our greatest threat. We can crawl away from our own bicycle crashes, thanks very much. We always lose when a car is involved. Thanks for contributing @Kah.
Yours in Cycling, Gianni
High-visibility jackets offend me. I’m not in the position to judge fashion really, and generally don’t care what other people wear, but something that tarnishes an entire mode of transport as unsafe and dorky is not okay. These garments misinform the general public that cycling is an unsafe activity (look, that cyclist looks like a lit up flare and a Christmas tree had a baby!), they make all other cyclists look like dorks.
Now, I’m not picking on genuinely introverted people, but people who are just less comfortable interacting with other vehicles on the road. As someone truly in love with spinning pedals on the road, I don’t see why there is this reticence to spend time on the road. The footpath is by far the worse option: congested with pedestrians, littered with signs, and unpredictable in its ebb and wanes.
There’s a spectrum of how happy you are with sharing the road: going from very uncomfortable to exuding quiet confidence before becoming attention-seeking and finally there is a thin line to obnoxiousness.
Uncomfortable, more introverted cyclists tend to hug the kerb, trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Every potential interaction is exaggerated; every passing car becomes a danger. Confident cyclists who are experienced know when to draw attention to their intentions, when to back off while negotiating between quickly moving cars, and how to tell the difference between a passing maneuvere that is actually dangerous and one that is not even worth commenting on. This comfort around other road users is something you can cultivate, but not one you can fake.
Attention-seeking cyclists and obnoxious cyclists tend to feel more self-entitled. “I’m a vehicle/road user too!” is the common mantra of these cyclists who don’t feel inclined to offer the same courtesy they demand to the other road users. To be fair these rolling douchenozzles tend to be the same regardless of vehicle.
My problem is, the introverts are trying to make up for their meekness with the artificial posturing afforded by the YJA. Their mistaken assumption of course is that this magical garment bestows visibility, and thus invincibility in traffic, leading some to jump to the illogical conclusion that they have automatic right of way in every circumstance by virtue of the highly visible jacket.
Magic jackets are not the answer to safer cyclists. Learning to share the road on a bicycle is the answer. Anticipation, not hindsight.