Despite road rage videos, there's more respect for cyclists

CYCLETOURER8/YouTube

A driver has been filmed cutting off a cyclist and then unleashing a tirade of abuse on Pirory Lane near Richmond Park.

OPINION: The spectacle on our news feeds of spats between two angry men - one holding a bicycle, one yelling from a car, is commonplace in this age of GoPro cameras, and media hungry for sensation.

Despite resulting in no injury beyond insulted pride - not even a scratched bumper or buckled spoke - a recent row between a cyclist and SUV driver in Roehampton, England has had over 170,000 views on various media.

Makes you wonder how many road-rage incidents between van and car drivers, or truck and motorbike drivers, occurred in the same week without fanfare.

An explosive fight between a cyclist and 4x4 driver.

An explosive fight between a cyclist and 4x4 driver.

READ MORE: Road rage driver apologises for foul-mouthed road rage rant at cyclist

Yes, there's a prevalent urban myth that cyclists and motorists are at odds, battling for space, and failing to understand each other.

There are people on bikes who act like idiots, and, far more dangerously, people using cars as though they were the only vehicle on a racetrack.

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But in reality, on the streets of New Zealand, anecdotal evidence is that the majority of motorists are in fact treating cyclists with more consideration than ever before.

Why?

Well, biking is booming in NZ.

Since the phenomenal take-off in the popularity of mountain biking, which in turn inspired the network of cycle touring trails, cycling has moved into the mainstream.

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Now, with the Government pouring an extra $100 million into the Urban Cycling Programme, and a high-level Cycling Safety Panel established, cycling for everyday journeys, on-road is rapidly increasing as well.

Some districts of Christchurch and Wellington have up to 16 per cent of commuters using a bike, and bike sales have never been stronger.

Bikes are everywhere.

Part of the change is that, when I'm driving, I'm now encountering far more people on bikes.

I'm hearing things in the media about bike lanes being built and about 1.5 metre overtaking distances, friends and family are taking up cycling, and though I've had a driving licence for decades, I'm starting to see road use from a slightly different perspective.

This is how more space is being made on our roads for people using bikes, and talking to advocates for cycling throughout the country, this is the experience.

We only have to hear the offending filmed driver's statement, "I fully appreciate that cyclists have as much right to the road as any other road users" to see how much has changed.

Will Andrews is interim project manager at Cycling Advocates' Network, who work with government and local authorities on behalf of cyclists, for a better cycling environment and whose motto is, More people on bikes, more often. can.org.nz

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