An Open Letter to the Drivers of St Andrews

A cyclist’s tale.

To the man who verbally berated me for cycling “too [expletive] slow” down Market Street: 

To the lads in the blue sports car who thought it’d be funny to tailgate me and rev your engines so loudly and so closely that I could feel the heat on my back: 

 To the old lady who pulled out in front of me on Pipeland, missing me by mere centimetres, causing me to forgo my brakes and land on the pavement, before driving off without making sure I was OK: 

 To all drivers of St Andrews:

 We’re people too.

Cycling through the streets of St Andrews is challenging, not least because the uneven cobblestones and sheer topography of the town make it feel like you’re cycling through a Martian landscape. Add belligerent and short-tempered drivers to the equation, and these quaint streets turn into a battlefield.

I’m not prepared to begin a #CyclistLivesMatter campaign across various platforms of social media (and for the record, I know that it’s not all drivers), but perhaps it is not out of place to ask for an iota of respect from my fellow road-goers. We, those who opt for a form of transportation faster than walking but more frugal than owning and maintaining an automobile, are just as entitled to the streets as you. The lone fact that our top speed is a minute fraction of yours does not give you the right to drive us off the road. Cycling aside, I’d also like to kindly remind drivers that you are in a provincial town of three major streets, home to thousands of students, children, and tourists; it’s probably not a good idea to be going fast anyway. 

We, like you, are simply trying to get to our destinations as quickly as possible. No cyclist sets out with the intention of deliberately harassing drivers, as far as I know. We can’t help the fact that it’s physically impossible to go as fast as you, and your less-than-encouraging words and less-than-polite gestures certainly don’t make us go faster. Rather than letting your own self-righteousness and childlike impatience lead you to anger, I urge you to give in to your spirit of kindness and consideration.

For at the end of the day, are we not all human? Whether a man has two wheels, four wheels, or no wheels at all, is he not guaranteed the daily privilege — nay, right — of safety and tranquility as he hastens to his morning lecture? Or are we to live in perpetual fear of our motored menace, oppressing us from the coddled comfort of his leather-padded seats and voluminous cup holders (such luxuries we in the Plebian class are not afforded)?

No, this shan’t continue. The time for peace is imminent. Let us lay down our arms and lay off our horns as we join one another in camaraderie. For this conflict has grown as sour as our words, and as worn as our brakes. Unlike Bell and Church Streets, this ceasefire must not be one-way; let us both swear peace and understanding!  Let us end it now!

But seriously, it’d be nice to get to my class without being given the finger by a burly forty-something in a lorry, simply because I’m cycling on a road where cars also go. I hope that’s not too much to ask. 

Yours sincerely,

Jackson Pieters

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