Cycle Incentives: One free coffee with purchase over $7.50

There have been a bunch of bad news stories for cyclists lately that I’ve been studiously ignoring. I piss and moan enough without getting on the bandwagon of Twitter storms and trial by social media.

There was the woman in Melbourne who got doored trying to creep past the inside of a taxi in Collins Street. I don’t know if you know much about Collin Street. It’s the “Paris end” of Melbourne. Having lived in Melbourne for decades, I used to wonder what that meant but now I understand that Parisians like dooring people. At least I think that’s the idea.

Anyway. She was riding past the inside door of a taxi-load of noisome executive types stopped in one of Melbourne’s busiest streets when the door popped open. Surprise!

What shocked some people was the reaction of the guys alighting from the taxi. If they’d spat on her their dislike for cyclists wouldn’t have been any more obvious. If she’d been a legless beggar in Calcutta staining the pants leg of the Raj’s pure white linen suit she would not have been shown more contempt.

Outrage followed when the video was posted on You Tube. Cyclists everywhere bleated for justice cruel and unusual. Some guy who leads a minor party in the Victorian Senate (as in, got about 5% of the vote) called for the police to arrest the man responsible. The police, predictably, yawned and feigned ignorance. When the guy in question handed himself into the police later that day they considered their options at some length (read: over coffee and donuts, or croissants perhaps this being the Paris end after all) and then let him go without charge.

Now…it’d be a bit unfair to charge these guys with dooring. The legislation is there but lets look at the facts. The cyclist was on the inside of a taxi that was stopped. There were people in the taxi. People in the back seat who don’t have access to mirrors and who can’t see through the back of their heads. If she can’t make a proper assessment of that situation and avoid driving into an open door then it’s hardly the fault of the passengers.

What would be fair is to charge these guys for being arrogant dickheads, though we’d have to get the legislation through parliament first. And parliament being parliament half the legislatures would fall to their own laws. So our fall-back is to charge them with leaving the scene of an accident. Clearly there we have a case yes? No. No charge. The law must reflect the values of the society it represents and clearly ours hates cyclist. Read the comments on some of the bike related news and see what people think of us. Most of them would happily replace duck hunting season with cycle hunting. For these people the only problem with dooring cyclists is it’s too slow and ineffective.

If dooring is slow and ineffective then perhaps the answer is running cyclist straight under the front bumper. Like this woman did:

The good news is the cyclist was okay. Somehow he escaped injury. Even though there was no mattress to magically appear from somewhere to break his fall:

Anyway, I promised I wouldn’t piss and moan and as you can see I haven’t. Well anyway. The point of my good news story is that our Brisbane City Council is encouraging cycling. Yay! With free coffee! Yay! Never has it been such a good time to risk your life on the roads. Now you get free coffee!

(I love how Brisbane City Council didn’t even buy their own domain and web hosting for this initiative. That URL looks a lot like a sub-domain hanging off the back of the people who designed the website. Check it: http://bcc177.khemistrydigital.com.au/. Who might just be these guys: http://www.khemistry.com.au/)

The council were discussing plans for one of those ineffective cycle awareness campaigns. The type with posters and TV ads to remind you that bicycles are traffic too. So the next time you’re texting while driving or preparing to tie down a mattress with string you might stop and make the unlikely leap of logic that you’re endangering cyclists.  But it wasn’t the fact that they’re proven to be useless that deterred them. Government doesn’t mind papering over cracks. It was the fact that it cost them money. So some bright spark came up with this cycle incentive campaign that makes it look like they were doing something without spending any money.

At the moment we have 25 traders in Brisbane offering discounts for cyclists.  That’s as much as one discount centre for every 88,000 people in Brisbane. If that doesn’t get bums on seats I don’t know what will. With discounts like free coffee (when you purchase food valued at $7.50 or more) it’s looking a lot more like a café promotion than a cycle promotion but I’m sure that won’t hold back the success of this awesome plan. I’m sure cartards everywhere will abandon their motorized vehicles for bikes so they can get a free (well..it’s not free really is it? when there are strings attached?) coffee.

My only concern is over how I’m supposed to even leave the house without having my coffee first. It’s my experience that the consumption of caffeine is what makes the ride possible.

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