It’s time we started calling it “hate speech”

People who ride bicycles are a good humoured lot. We must be. If we weren’t, we would be naming as “hate speech” every taunt yelled at us from a car window; we would sue newspapers for language insinuating all cyclists in the wrong doing of some cyclists; we would insist bullying drivers be charged for using their cars as weapons to threaten us; and we would be having right wing shock jocks charged for inciting violence against a vulnerable minority, in need of protection.

In the age of political correctness, cyclists are among a few remaining minority groups that bigots can harass, and not be taken to court. “Get off the road lycra boy.” “Hurry up hippy, with your box bike and bread sticks.” “Move over bike rider, or I’ll run you over.” For a broad definition of hate speech, in principle, we can quote Wikipedia:

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against […] a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic.

Laws differ from state to state, but in Australian states, being a bike rider is not a characteristic that earns protection. Why not? Because we haven’t complained. But we have to. We have to stop being good humoured. More people are killed, because they can be characterised as a cyclist, than are killed because of their race in Australia. They are killed by criminally negligent drivers, who don’t give us space, because they hate us, and if they hit us, have their crimes treated as though they were accidents. Indirectly, cyclists are killed because presenters and producers of TV shows like Top-Gear, can incite violence against us, and not go to gaol.


While I believe cyclists need a lot more designated infrastructure, there will always be zones that cars and bikes share, that bikes and pedestrians share, and that all three have to share. In this age of change, from driving, to more walking and cycling, lives would be saved if law makers broadened their definition of hate speech.

Comments are closed.