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An alien species on our roads

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Cyclists even speak an alien language. They say words like sprockets, dérailleur and cadence and did I mention, they wear lycra?

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On Sunday I had a conversation with an evil person; a wicked, scheming monster that doesn’t deserve to live – according to popular opinion, that is.

At the time, though I knew he was from the bowels of hell itself, our conversation was light, friendly and rather pleasant. I was even tempted to believe he was human.

What he didn’t know is that I knew that he was a cyclist – one of those devils who have been referred to as “cockroaches of the road”.

How bad are cyclists? On a recent trip to Cape Town, I was driving my family around Chapman’s Peak enjoying the incredible view. We were going along at a steady pace, seeing as we were on our way to meet someone; when a lycra-clad cockroach appeared in my rearview mirror a few hundred metres back.

Within minutes he was tailgating me, it lasted just for a moment, and then he breezed past my car as easy as you please – and we were going uphill at the time!

Bicycles are slower than cars, and even slower on an uphill, so he was defying the laws of nature and therefore bringing the very fabric of reality close to being ripped apart!

I couldn’t believe it. I realised that I needed to teach him a lesson, but despite all my effort I could not catch him again. What made it worse was the polite wave he gave me as he cruised past my car! Almost like a human would do!

Cyclists even speak an alien language. They say words like sprockets, dérailleur and cadence and did I mention, they wear lycra?

Of course I am not being serious, but the debate around cyclist hatred has become very serious of late.

A recent Twitter post is a good indication of the seriousness of this matter: “Had enough of cyclists today! Just wanna ram them with my car” it said.

This kind of outburst would get people into deep trouble if directed against an ethnic minority or religion, but it seems that cyclists are fair game in many people’s minds.

And yes, I know that taking sides in such a heated debate (between motorists and cyclists) could be committing popularity suicide, but to me – a motorist – some of the arguments of motorists do not compute.

For example, motorists argue that roads are designed for cars. But if you investigate this claim you may find that roads have been around for thousands of years, and during this period they’ve carried foot traffic, carts, horses, trams, carriages, buses, and yes bicycles and cars.

In fact it’s only in the last sixty or so years that we’ve decided cars should get priority on our roads.

And yes, let’s not drift too far to one end of the debate that we paint an unrealistic picture of the innocence of cyclists – there are many cyclists on our roads who, it seems, believe they are above the law.

Just the other night I was driving home from work on a dark stretch of road when I narrowly missed a cyclist myself. The only reason I saw him – he didn’t have lights or reflectors on his bike, and was wearing dark overalls – was because I saw the reflection of his cellphone in his face. He was texting while cycling, seemingly without a care in the world.

No, like I said, he wasn’t wearing lycra. You see, usually the lycra-clad aliens are just out to enjoy the exercise, to experience the open road, to clear their minds and to de-stress.

I am embarrassed to say that I know some lycra aliens. One of my best friends is a lycra extraterrestrial. I know ministers, businessmen, doctors, principals, teachers and other professionals who cycle. Wearing their lycra kit, helmets and glasses doesn’t make them evil, it just makes them comfortable.

So if you dislike cyclists, just avoid them; give them a wide berth and put them in your rear-view mirror. But we have to learn a lesson very quickly: It is never OK to harm those who offend us nor air views that would incite others to harm them.