Edmund King is to give a presentation at a road safety conference and will highlight how motorists and cyclists are not two different tribes but often the same people (87 percent of British Cycling members own cars). He will also discuss the demonisation of cyclists by a minority of motorists. ‘Two Tribes? What drivers think about other road users?’ will be delivered at the Road Safety GB Annual Conference 2012 to be held at the Britannia International Hotel, Canary Wharf, London, 14-15th November.
While he’s the president of the AA, the UK’s top motoring organisation, King rides a mountain bike at the weekend, often prefers to get around on a Brompton ("I never drive in London,") and has more in common with CTC president and Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow than motormouth Jeremy Clarkson.
"In an environment where people are being encouraged to walk and cycle, [my] presentation will look at motorists’ perception of vulnerable road users – cyclists, pedestrians (adults and children) and motorcyclists," said King.
Based on surveys of 20,000 drivers from the AA/Populus Panel, the presentation will provide a useful insight into the “mind of the motorist”, said King, adding "I will also have some positive poll results about cycling."
However, he will also discuss the dark underbelly of motoring, the antipathy shown to those not in cars. This is evidenced by the unbidden hate shown against cyclists and now being logged by @cyclehatred on Twitter. This anonymous account has his/her work cut out: retweeting unbidden hatred against cyclists is almost a full-time job. King has said he will use some of the hate tweets in his presentation to road safety professionals.
The Road Safety GB Annual Conference will also have a presentation from psychologist Dr Martin Langham who will talk about SMIDSY, or as he puts it: "’Looked but failed to see’. This error is responsible for between 60-80% of [incidents] and is caused by a driver failing to see another road user."
An example of this happened last week, when Bradley Wiggins was knocked from his bike in a SMIDSY incident (and which soon led to lots of hate comments against cyclists in the media and on forums).