This time last year, cycling in Belfast was still basking in a nice cuddly pink post-Giro glow, cyclists were good people, cycling was a good pastime and all was right with the world.
Jump back to the present day and you would scarcely believe that the warm fuzzy feeling was barely a year ago. Cyclists, according to the media are the devil incarnate, the local media are baying for blood and they quite literally will get it, with the blatant anti cycling agenda they seem to be promoting.
Take the Belfast Bikes, there is a short system failure and it's front page news, a former contributor to local media who has moved to London is hit and injured by a cyclist over there and there's a media furore about it, even that fat waste of space Nolan is on giving his 2p's worth because he got stuck in his huge car behind a couple of cyclists on the way down to his huge house. Incidentally, about 3 days after his usual rant, I was held up in my car by the same Nolan who was driving to Comber at 35mph, I would have passed but he was all over the road, maybe he was trying to eat a packet of prawn cocktail, but I'm digressing here.
Yesterday, the Gran Fondo was here, and quite a few roads were closed off, now I know that it was father's day, but the road closures were advertised weeks in advance, ruddy big signs up poles telling the world what was going on, one contributor to the early morning media assassination of cycling, which started at just after 7am, said he was pissed off because it took him longer than usual to go to Ballynahinch or somewhere, then he openly admits he hadn't been paying attention to signs in the area advising of the road closures? Err, hello? Is there anybody there? The Gran Fondo is not my bag, but considering the amount of roads closed for the 12th parades, and the hundreds of other parades every summer, it was not a big deal, but because it's only cyclists, folk will go on the radio and admit to not being an observant driver.
The print media are at it too, the Belfast Telegraph ran a piece by their very own pound shop version of Katie Hopkins, only without the looks, Fionola Meredith, saying how cyclists "hogging" the towpath "ground her gears" She talks about "Sneering, privileged blokes" in "Yellow lycra" who are "travelling so fast that you can feel the blast of disturbed air he leaves in his wake" This is errant bollocks unless he (because no women ever ride bikes on the towpath) was doing about 60mph. Funnily enough, the last time I rode the towpath, I was in the delightful company of two elegant young ladies with not a trace of lycra between any of us, Lets face it, nobody wears lycra on a Pashley Princess, do they?
The same delightful paper, frequently posts letters from idiots demanding that cyclists should have licences, fair enough, but what if little Alice, age 6 on her Raleigh Budgie is "detected" by the cops without her licence? She's below the age of criminal responsiblity for starters, but no doubt there would be tweets from the cops with pictures of a sorrowful looking Alice hashtagged "Keeping people safe" quoted in the local rag under a headline about "Pre teen cycle joyrider" or some other bollocks.
Nationally, the media are getting their collective knickers in a twist over cyclists with cameras, the same media that will happily use cycle camera footage on their own shows, the same media that make entire shows out of in car camera footage, and who can forget Police Camera Action, presented by serial drink driving offender Alistair Stewart.
The problem is, people take this crap in, a few of us were on a gentle evenings ride, when we were told off for riding on a shared use path by an elderly gent who clearly couldn't see the large sign denoting the path as shared that was no further than 12 feet from his head. The demonizing of cyclists is working judging by the looks we received, a group of normal folk out enjoying ourselves on a summers night. Honestly, if we were swigging buckfast dressed in Kappa's finest, we would have been better received. An elegant picnic? Nope, lets wreck a bus shelter instead, we'll be more popular then.
Anyway, in a while they'll have moved onto some other poor bastard, maybe it'll be Rottweilers again, or DJ's or the royals. But who cares, it's 99% bullshit in any case.