I know, I know, you are thinking to yourself “What the f*ck is he babbling on about now?”
Well, bear with me and all will become as clear as mud crystal.
THE PINK POUND
The pink pound relates to the “gay economy – i.e. the money spent by the lesbian / gay / bisexual /transgender community (LGBT). The LGBT community were traditionally discriminated against. Indeed it was only in the 1960s that homosexual acts in private were decriminalised. Even in the 1980s, “queer bashing” was a regular occurrence in towns and cities across the country. Now, through the LGBT standing together and through groups such as Stonewall, the pink pound is a major economic force and the LGBT community have gained equal treatment on most issues. I am not saying this is a good or bad thing, merely it has happened.
The breathalyser was introduced into policing in England & Wales in 1967. Prior to this date it was generally not too frowned on by many to drink and drive even if it was illegal. The number of convictions for drink driving massively increased after the breathalyser was introduced as there was now a specific limit for the offence. However, the number of offences is now falling in real terms and as a percentage of those breathalysed. It is now not considered socially acceptable to drink drive. Credit for this change in attitude goes to lots of groups, from the police, the Home Office and various pressure groups. These days pubs provide non alcoholic drinks or tea/coffee for drivers. There is no stigma in not drinking if driving.
Again, in the 1960s and 1970s racism was very common in society. TV Sit coms like “Love Thy Neighbour” and “In Sickness & in Health” were based on this. In the 1980s, racism was seen on the terraces at football matches. For example where the fanzine sellers now stand outside Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground used to stand the New National Front paper sellers with their latest copies of “Bulldog” in which they published a “Racist League of Louts” which was the first thing people turned to in order to see where the NF had placed Newcastle in their league. Pride for the fan was in seeing your club at the top of the league. Black players were racially abused, both verbally and had bananas thrown at them. These days, it is exceptionally rare to hear any racist chants or behaviour in a football ground. Again, this comes about partly as a result of anti racism pressure groups.
“So what?” I hear you say. “What has this got to do with cycling? Come on, get to the point.” Well, in each of these three examples, the attitude of the public at large has been turned around as a result of co-ordinated and consistent pressure from pressure groups. There are no doubt many other examples that you can think of.
Well, now think of the general attitude towards cyclists including:
They ignore the rules of the road
They red light jump
They are a menace
They kill pedestrians
They deserve all they get
Well, what has this to do with the LGBT community or the anti racist groups? If we as cyclists could actually get our bodies together to campaign for us together on issues of common interest, we may be able to change public attitudes towards us.
Sadly, the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC), British Cycling, The London Cycling Campaign and other groups such as the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists and TLI all appear to be so insular and almost hostile to each other that we do not have a common voice.
It is considered an aggravating feature of an assault if you assault someone because of their race or sexuality, or if you assault someone weaker than you. We need to get assaults on cyclists treated in a similar way. We are vulnerable out their on the road and need protection. We should be campaigning to get assaults on cyclists treated in the same way as racist or homophobic assaults.
Instead our cycling groups refuse to back an idea introduced by a different group for fear people will join that other group rather than them. This petty feuding prevents positive campaigning for cyclists rights being as effective as it could be, thus resulting in campaigns that are ineffective. This is to the detriment of cycling and existing cyclists and prevents action being taken to address the concerns of those who don’t cycle at present.
Come on cyclists and cycling organisations lets fight the corner for cyclists together.