Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards takes a unique slant on why some people might hate bike riders.
For years I’ve been struggling to fully answer to the question, ‘Why do people hate us bike riders?’
Last week two things happened that clicked a vital piece of the puzzle into place for me.
First, someone said to me, "You’ll never get anyone to support bike riders until they pay their way."
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. But it was the first time I heard it from a 19-year-old, inner-city greenie.
The second, was a parliamentary inquiry into whether a bike trail should be built to boost tourism in Tasmania. One of the major objections has been, ‘Bike riders won’t spend any money.’
Then it hit me.
There’s one thing you don’t want to be seen to be in Australia: a tight arse.
It’s un-Australian to go missing when it’s your turn to shout or to get out a calculator when it comes time to divvy up the dinner bill. Could it be that people think bike riders are tight arses?
Any person who shows these tendencies will get one swift warning, ‘Don’t be such a tight arse.’ And if they don’t pull their head in quickly, social outcast is just around the corner.
For example, if you only take your partner to the movies on Tight arse Tuesday - get ready to go alone.
Why it took me a while to realise some people think of bike riders as tight arses, I’ve known for some time that it’s just not true.
We’ve all copped the ‘pay rego’ abuse from a passing person in a car at some stage.
We've also all wished they would slow down for a moment so that we could simply explain, ‘I do. My family has three cars. In any event, its taxes that pay for the roads and I pay a heap of those. Anyway, rego pays for TAC coverage and I don’t get that when I ride my bike. So I’m paying for you.’
How the myth that people who ride bikes don’t spend money on holidays got going is even more baffling. The view that every person on two wheels free camps by the side of the road, does their business in the bushes and only eats two-minute noodles is totally erroneous and unfounded. The reality is touring riders spend more than other tourists.
I also wonder if when you open a shop you receive some propaganda that says, ‘bike riders will send your shop broke.’ How else would they not stumble upon the mounds of evidence that shows people on bikes means more people, who stay longer and spend more?
It would be a real shame if this mistaken belief about the fiscal frugality of bike riders meant Australia never became a nation of bike riders. Happier, healthier people is the type of country we should all want to live in.
So next time you’re driving behind a bike rider feeling annoyed, take a deep breath and readjust your thinking.
It’s time to stop thinking about what a tight arse they are and start thinking what a nice arse you could have if you joined the two-wheel revolution.
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