Can We Bridge the Rift on Our Roads? New Research Suggests the "Two Tribes" Mentality between Motorists and Cyclists Is Still Rife on the Roads. MARY GRIFFIN Takes a Look at the Rivalry and Attempts Some Myth-Busting
Byline: MARY GRIFFIN
FIVE hundred regular cyclists were questioned for a new survey measuring the relationship between cyclists and motorists.
Lawyers Slater & Gordon was commissioned to carry out the survey as part of its work with national cycling charity the CTC. But the survey's findings make uncomfortable reading.
An overwhelming 85 per cent of cyclists said they felt there was "conflict" between cyclists and other road users and a quarter reported being a victim of road rage in the last 12 months.
Three-quarters of cyclists questioneAd said they feel they don't get any respect from other road users when they're on a bike.
Nearly half had suffered verbal abuse, while more than a quarter said they had experienced drivers shouting profanities at them from their vehicle as they drove past.
Worryingly, seven per cent of those questioned said they had experienced people purposefully throwing objects at them while they were cycling, while one in 20 had actually been pushed off their bike by an aggressive road user.
Paul Kitson, lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: "These worrying statistics illustrate the two tribes mentality of motorists versus cyclists.
"There is a need for much greater respect and tolerance."
Common complaints from cyclists were that drivers failed to check their blind spots, couldn't accurately judge the speed of cyclists and had a tendency to drive too close to them.
Seventy per cent said they often had to take evasive action whilst riding to protect themselves and one in 10 had suffered an injury in the last 12 months.
But more often than not, car drivers and cyclists are one and the same person, with research showing that the majority of regular adult cyclists are also car owners.
And last year, AA president Edmund King called for an end to the "two tribes" rivalry, saying: "We really must get past this dangerous 'them and us' mentality that sours interactions between different groups."
So, could a little myth-busting help ease the understanding between motorists and cyclists? MYTH 1 'CYCLISTS DON'T PAY ROAD TAX' The notion that cyclists don't pay road tax and therefore have less right to the road than motorists is raised so frequently that Carlton Reid, bike-rider, car-driver and editor of cycling magazine BikeBiz, launched the website ipayroadtax.com to clarify the matter.
He points out that "road tax" was abolished in 1937. The fee paid for a motor vehicle's tax disc is actually a "car tax" or vehicle excise duty - a tax on your car's tailpipe emissions.
"All tax payers pay for roads," he says, "Those who pay income tax and those who pay council tax are the ones who pay for roads, and that's not just motorists. And anybody who buys anything in Britain also helps to pay for roads because VAT also contributes to the national coffers."
MYTH 2 'CYCLISTS SHOULD STAY CLOSE TO THE KERB' In advising motorists how to share the road, Shoosmiths lawyers point out the dangers of cycling too close to the kerb or "hugging the gutter", saying: "This area of the road carries a significant risk for cyclists in the form of potholes, road bumps, loose gravel, broken glass, drainage outlets and debris (not to mention the risk of colliding with an opening door of a parked car). …