When the RACV posted this story on their website from the upcoming Royal Auto Magazine - the world almost ground to a halt.
Driving on Empathy
"Has the RACV become a front for the bike lobby?", "Has the RACV Board been taken over by lefties?", "I'm pulling my insurance" - these were the cries from #Motordom.
From the others were the cries of "Wohooo, RACV gets it, they are my best mates." and "Yip, that sums it up, all drivers are barking dogs." Well before you get too excited, let me explain something here. This is not a news piece, it is not an advert, it is an editorial (mind you it is a damn good one, but it is an editorial none the less).
The image is so powerful, Dogs drive, birds ride, cool cats on motorbikes and deer cross roads.
The editorial is about how we are losing our humanity. Our empathy on the roads is reducing through our desire to make it from A to B in the quickest time possible.
This is not just a traffic problem, it is societal and it is encouraged from the top down.
Let me explain:
- Trucks have schedules or they lose income - move aside
- Trams and Buses have schedules or the passengers complain - move aside
- Work needs that report by 10am - move aside
- Have to pick up the kids before they charge fees - move aside
- Rushing home to watch the News - move aside.
The motor vehicle is not the catalyst of this, it is the tool used by the people to enable the conclusion. Even on the bike we are in a rush, rush to get home, rush to get to work, rush to pick up the kids, some milk, dinner, etc etc... no different, just a different choice in weapon to complete the task.
But here in lies the difference, the Weapon, regardless of how you get around, on a bike you have a recorded death of a pedestrian by a bicycle rider in around 1 per 10 years. There has never been a motorist killed by a cyclist in Victoria yet. So if your weapon is a car, you are pretty much safe from cyclists. But you have a high chance of collision and death if you are in your metal box if you are hit by another metal box. In this case you have a one in every 200 million kilometres travelled. Sadly, that is actually one in every 1.2 days. Injury rates are even higher at 1 serious injury every 4 and a half hours, and that is just those that are in other metal boxes. The weapon of choice of most people is killing us and we are in too much of a rush to even notice.
Ian Munro, author of the editorial, reminds us that the past 15 years has seen the biggest resurgence. Many people are choosing to don the lycra for a ride down Beach Rd, or up into the hills. We are very lucky that most motorists are OK with this. He discusses the lack of empathy from the motoring public because they don't ride. I would go further and say they don't ride because of the medias has had a bias against riding for the past 20 years that is only starting to end as many of the reporters are joining us on the roads.
We should always look out for each other. We never know who it is on that bike, motorcycle or in the car in front. We all have family and friends waiting eagerly for us to make it home safe. What we all want to see is that no one on the road toll is someone we know. #TowardsZero is not strong enough - #Zero is the only right answer.
But I digress, the editorial is very well written (not like my ramblings) and shows us a little glimpse of how much softer the RACV are beginning to get on issues other than cars. It is always important for them to remember - 95% of adult riders are potential RACV members. And most of them can afford it too.