Sydney TV Tells Pedal Parent, “You Are Doing It Wrong!”

This aggression will not stand, Pedal People!

Sad story. Melea, a pedal mom in Sydney, Australia who hauls her kid in a trailer behind her sweet Brompton was riding a familiar route through downtown traffic in Sydney the other day when she found herself subject of a different kind of attention than the positive responses that her lovely rig usually gets. Melea and her daughter were followed, harassed and filmed from all angles by a couple in an SUV. They peppered her with criticisms that what she was doing was unsafe and illegal. Melea felt pretty crappy about the experience and shared her story on a local cycling site.

As usual, the incredible Yehuda Moon is right on target, even coincidentally. They have a new site! I like this comic so much that I’m linking to the “Support” page, too.

Melea writes,

At first I thought it was more of the same attention we were already accustomed to, but it persisted, we were filmed from all angles, just about, all the way to glebe,  ( a good 15 minute ride). I was probably doing 20k/h uphill pushing it, (dont forget, Im towing 40+kg!) not thinking, or even capable of pulling to the kerb (along the busy bus lane) while being hurled abuse, “thats ILLEGAL!” … the girlfriend was then being a smart ass within a meter of my bike trailer (while his hand was out the window with his camera, ) attempting to illicit a hostile response, i suppose (it never happened) whilst they held up traffic and were doing the very thing they accused me of: putting my childs life at risk.

That sucks, right? It relates to some stuff we’ve been talking about here, the whole, You’re Doing It Wrong belittling posture that many strangers take…

Then, everything gets a bunch weirder when the folks in the car turn the footage they shot over to a TV show called “A Current Affair” (we’ve got an equally classy “news” show by that name in the States, yeah?). The piece they produce is horrifying. I am not sure I can even summarize the thing. In many ways it is a classic example of those TV news spots designed to highlight some made up threat to you and your family, killer bees, violent video games, poisoned Halloween candy. What is really ticking me off about this one is that it is not even pretending to be informing the viewers about anything affecting them at all. Its just pure, high-budget criticism of one mom and her personal, reasonable transportation choices!

There is a concept called ignoring the bull, an aspect of car-headed thinking where commentators and policymakers shift the burden for road dangers onto the backs of vulnerable users (often inattentive walkers or scofflaw cyclists). The analysis that is left when the bull is ignored is an outdated and unjust distraction from the truths we will need to confront if we wish to start building livable, or even just survivable cities.

We need to stop shaming legitimate road users and start fixing things in our cities before it is too late.

Click on this link and post a comment of support for Melea and her family, will ‘ya?

-Updated for Betterness-

The huge Australian news blog, Crikey! has picked up the story as well. Glad to see A Current Affair getting some negative attention for this crappy reporting and behavior.