My therapist tells me anger is a secondary emotion. We go over nursery stories, of cruel maids, cold attics, glimpses of daddy, mother’s stories of daddy’s families all throughout Asia, poor little me believing it normal for porridge to be served from a trebuchet. I fly into fits and my therapist reminds me again that anger is a secondary emotion. Anger starts, usually, with some primary feeling of loss, or belittlement.
What primary feelings underlie the anger some drivers clearly feel toward cyclists? I am not talking about drivers who may just be in a hurry today. Most of us at some time have been running late in a car, and felt frustrated by everything else on the road, not only the cyclists. A driver in that state of mind might as readily abuse a cyclist as they would a little old lady crossing the road.
But now I am thinking of drivers whose vitriol is reserved especially for cyclists. What is it about cyclists in particular that arouses that primary sense of loss, which for these people is translated into that secondary, dangerous, emotion of anger?
As an alliteration slut of the first order, I posit their pain proceeds from their perception of us either as poor, pious, pert or progressive. Let me explain:
With so little to lose, the poor cannot lose. Plus many have been pushed to society’s margins precisely because they lack impulse control. Drivers, therefore, have due cause to fear the cycling world’s poor, and naturally too some will resent a poor cyclist’s freedom from the responsibilities that burden him or her daily, and further resent the poor cyclist having the upper hand should a skirmish break out on the street. Yet although many car owners know they are enslaved to social mores, their sacrifices have armed them with weapons: cars. Ah, cars, such huge lethal devices like no other we are allowed by law to posses. When fear and resentment morphs into anger, the civilized driver becomes a car toting criminal, as guilty as any gangster toting a gun. Tailgating, buzzing by close, revving motors at lights, and any such threatening gesture by someone armed with a car, toward someone armed with no more than a bike, are criminal manifestations of anger, arising from fear and resentment.
Drivers who perceive cyclists as pious/progressive (two P words, one thought), are prickly because they know they are too heavily invested in a way of life they uncritically received from their parents. They curse themselves for overcapitalizing on that house in the burbs, and for buying cars during the age of increasing energy scarcity. The cyclist ahead of their car is salt in their wounds. Should they compare their fat arse with the steel buttocks of some pious pert prick like myself, their sense of loss is bound to turn into anger.
I hope this has helped you understand why the car-bound get angry at cyclists. They are puny, pathetic, purposeless people, not to be pitied, but properly punished.