09 April 2008

Fear-Mongering on the Silence Ride

I just had to chuck this post up. I'm in the midst of reading reams of research studies and formulating a blog response to the world of bike helmet advocacy.

Regarding the fear-mongering inherent in the whole debate, I was quite shocked to find this video. It's absolutely mad. It's from the Ride of Silence website.

The Ride of Silence is apparently some kind of memorial event where cyclists honour cyclists who died over the past year with a tribute ride. Which sounds nice.

They have a video on their website about last year's ride, where the ride went around a lake.

Here's a link to the page - it opens in a new window and starts playing automatically.

Here's what the speaker says:

"This has grown way beyond anyone's dreams. No one ever saw this happening. South Africa, Scotland, England, Brazil, Greece... the list goes on and on. You'll be riding with them, 'cause there's still carnage goin' on out there on the roads.

Someone's going to ride around the lake with us tonight... and they won't be here next year."

Get that last bit. He's basically saying that out of a couple of thousand cyclists present at the ride, at least one of them is dead next year. Period. Fact.

Every rider in the short video looks like they're trying to make the cut for the Tour de France [and looking dreadfully incapable of doing so...] They don't exactly look like a group of cyclists who ride casually and attempt to share the road. How many challenge the traffic instead of working with it? And where's the 'Cycle Defensively' angle in the video? Or a sense of 'Let's be careful out there...'?

No, no. Cyclists are helpless victims of 'carnage out there on the roads'. It is an absolute certainty that someone will die.

Nevermind the fact that all scientific statistics show the opposite. That cycling is safer than walking and certainly safer than driving. [more on that in a later post]

It's a nice, beautiful idea, this Ride of Silence. There's a lot of potential for a good, simple memorial. What a horrible, horrible shame that they use fear-mongering to sell their message. Preying on people's emotions in order to get more people to show up next year [after all, they have to replace the dead ones...]

One thing is certain, if anybody gets together to ride in memory of me - unlikely, i know - I'll be having no lycra, no goofy specialist bikes and no helmets. Promise me that. And tell the world that facts and science beats fear-mongering any day.

Ride of Silence Website