Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Entry In the Bicycle/Car Conflict

While I support freedom of the press in all of it's forms, I do not support the spreading of hatred or condone the physical or psychological abuse of anyone, regardless of how I feel about them personally. So, I am disturbed to learn that British TV chef James Martin won't face any sort of disciplinary action resulting from his treatment of a group of cyclists while test-driving an electric car.

Mr. Martin wrote in a review of an electric sports car: "God, I hate those cyclists. Every last herbal tea-drinking, Harriet Harman-voting one of them.

"That's one of the reasons I live in the countryside, where birds tweet, horses roam, pigs grunt and Lycra-clad buttocks are miles away."

Mr. Martin has every right to say this, it is his personal opinion and he's welcome to it. But, it's what he says he did that is disturbing: "Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the birdsong – and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists.

"Knowing they wouldn't hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed.

"The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror. I think this could be the car for me."

*headdesk* Does the phrase, "Open mouth, insert foot" mean anything to you, Mr. Martin?

Furthermore, this isn't how you should apologize. He said he was sorry for his remarks. That's great, lovely. What about the cyclists he intentionally and unnecessarily frightened and endangered? He didn't apologize to them, or say that he was out of line, which he clearly was. While this oversight may have been a calculated move to save his own ass from criminal charges, what it amounts to is blowing smoke.

The sad part is, if a cyclist sneaked up on a car and smashed a rear window with their U-lock and wrote about it in a review of the bicycle they were riding at the time, there would surely have been criminal charges. What a mess.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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