I was watching this stage of the Tour de France and my jaw dropped in disbelief seeing Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland being wiped out by a France television car. Soon after I thought to myself, "oh dear this will be in the news tomorrow and I bet there will be all these neanderthals thinking Awesome!" boy was I right... Reading the comments on the smh.com.au website I found this comment:
"And then the cyclists blame it all on the driver when they are hit at 80 km/hr with no protective gear on them & no sense of the rules of the road applying to them"
This comment made me think a lot about the type of mentality that some people have towards cycling generally in Australia. It's a culture of victim blaming - that it's the cyclist's fault for not wearing "protective gear" and that somehow absolves a negligent driver for nearly killing them. I get this sense that many people have this mentality that cycling is a high risk activity and that if you get hit by a car, it's your own fault - regardless if someone sideswiped you because they didn't check their blind spot or they didn't give way to you when they should have. This kind of thinking is somewhat common in Australia, scarily.
You can draw parallels to victims of sexual assault, that if a woman dresses in a certain way it's her own fault if she gets assaulted - that she accepted the risk, that the victim is to blame and that the attacker bears no responsibility for their actions. This kind of thinking disgusts me.
People have to take responsibility for their own actions, but the duty of care owed to others should be proportional to their capability to cause damage to others. For example a pedestrian has much less capability of causing damage to others than an aircraft pilot flying a 747 full of passengers. Likewise a person driving a car owes a higher duty of care towards others than they would if they were walking or cycling. When was the last time you heard of a cyclist losing control of a bike and then running into a child care centre full of children?