A bogus article in The Guardian about getting cyclists to sit in a lorry cab, to better understand the hard life of a lorry driver in seeing cyclists, and then putting lorry drivers on a saddle to see the world from a different viewpoint is the perfect journalistic conceit:
- Repeat what someone told you without any conceptual questioning of the principles;
- Secretly recognise that you will polarise views completely amongst your audience;
- Stand back and admire your blooming comment/page view statistics as irate readers vent their spleens.
As I found myself thinking at the recent Cycling Embassy of Great Britian Policy Bash, there are generally not simple solutions to complex problems. However, media debate and politics is just not capable of the sustained and difficult thinking often required - I refer you to the idea of stripping Fred Goodwin of his knighthood, as a way of reforming the banking system. Not exactly Nietzsche is it.
What the cycling blog of a national newspaper should be doing is calling this kind of lazy thinking to account. Whilst there is not a simple solution to the lorry problem, there is a simple philosophical position one can adopt when considering the issue. If a lorry driver, despite being highly trained and not setting out to kill anyone, is capable of causing death and injury simply due to the poorly designed machine he is operating, then the machine is not fit for purpose. Dragging cyclists into the frame and demanding that they be aware of the blind spot of a lorry or suffer the consequences is dangerous, unhelpful and just about the most counter-productive thing to say if you want to be encouraging cycling.
Of all people, the cycling blog of The Guardian ought to be the ones pointing that out.