“I’m a London cyclist – and I want you to stop verbally abusing me in the street”

Why are female cyclists such easy targets for abuse in the streets?

17.10.2019

London needs to readdress its anger towards city cyclists, says writer and cyclist Hollie Richardson

Why are female cyclists such easy targets for abuse in the streets?

“You need to look where you’re going,” she told me, a sentiment which I readily accepted. As I tried to regain my focus and started to cycle away, however, she hurled that abusive comment at my back: “I hope you get hit by a bus!”

Shocked, I braked again and asked her to repeat what she said. Unabashed, she once again repeated that awful comment to my face, adding: “If you can go around nearly hitting people, you deserve to be hit yourself.” I continued my cycle home that day shaking like a leaf. At one point, I pulled aside for about 20 minutes to have a cry and ring my friend. Nervous cyclists do not make good cyclists, and my nerves were completely shot. The following day, I chose to take the bus to work instead – because I’d rather ride one than risk the stranger’s wish that I be hit by one come true.

Cycling rage: why do Londoners hate cyclists so much?

And you don’t need me to tell you about the amount of terrible car drivers on our roads. The difference is, they can easily shut themselves off from abuse thrown at them by pedestrians.

. But please, please think about the language you use: not just because we are all human beings and we should all be kinder to one another, but because an abusive comment could shatter a cyclist’s nerves. Indeed, it might just be the reason that an actual accident does happen.

Read more: Stylist Magazine

Plus ‘nearly hit’ is a matter of her perception. If you haven’t hit someone who didn’t look, it’s because you used your brakes and rode with skill. I’ve ‘nearly hit’ (ie NOT hit) many a pedestrian stepping out suddenly, looking at their phones not the road. Thanks due, not abuse. A lot of self-blame in this article too. I cycle every day in London and for every 10 seconds that someone is waiting to overtake me I spend at least five times that in huge jams of cars and buses that no one complains about. Hollie, you have every right to be there. Cycle safe.

Whats missing from this analysis is the difference in abuse women get on other modes, eg railway platforms, parking structures, on night busses. Without that, this article is less a defence of women and more an attack on cycling. At night i'd rather be on my bike than the bus Cyclists in other European cities get far more respect from other road users and the infrastructure is so much more bike friendly. London has a long way to go.

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