another friendly cyclist

Hey, Melbourne cyclists, what’s with the attitude?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint on the bike, and have whacked my fair share of car windows after dangerous cut-offs and near misses. But there are some cyclists who are different; their default reaction to anything happening along their ride is anger. Like this guy who gave me the finger for taking his photo. Now, I don’t really care, it’s kind of funny and makes the photo more interesting, but I’ve never had a pedestrian do that to me. And check out these guys from a post last year, waiting at the lights. Why so srs?


Recently I had to calm down a middle aged lady who was literally screaming at some pedestrians to get off the bike path. It was a beautifully calm, sunny day along a tree-lined stretch of separated bike path. Yet this woman was ready to snap at anything that got in her way.

Maybe it’s the media coverage that keeps telling us how dangerous it is to ride a bicycle, that gives people a defensive, me-versus-the-world mindset when they saddle up. Maybe it’s the occasional abuse and aggressive ‘get off the road’ behaviour of some drivers when they get behind the wheel that riles up emotions.¬†Or maybe people are just generally more grumpy than I had thought. Anyway, my advice?


20 Comments on “another friendly cyclist

  1. Hooray! At last someone else has the guts to say what I have been trying to say for a long time now. I have cycled in many other countries but Melbourne’s cyclist must be the least friendly, most aggressive bunch I have come up against. Don’t know the cause but it is just great that someone else is remarking on it. This message needs to get out there on a big way and maybe that will start the change.

  2. I’d hazard a guess that the anger might stem from the fact that a complete stranger is taking their photo without their consent.
    – Just a thought….

    • Hey Chaz,
      Yeah maybe you’re right, I can’t say this is the only time I’ve experienced a negative reaction to shooting street. But I do think that generally the Melbourne cycling community needs to lighten up a bit. As someone on my Facebook page said, “Melbourne, why so srs?”

  3. Yep, I know that dude. He’s one of the most chill guys on the road. He ain’t pissed off, he’s just bone-heading your shot!

  4. I also know the fella in the first shot. Definitely not an angry dude. I can say for certain that he was just being a bit cheeky and
    ‘spicing up’ your photo a bit.

    As for grumpy faces on Swanston St; what do you expect? Swanston St is a nightmare to ride along…

  5. OMG I know that guy. This one time I have him a friendly wave and he flipped me off! What a dick move!

  6. Firstly thanks for the great portrait. Can you please email me a hi-res version, I want to hang it on my wall. But seriously dude, what do you expect when your taking photos of complete strangers. I think your the one who needs to lighten up. You admit to damaging vehicles when a driver has failed to see you. Maybe bring your own attitude inline before publicly flaming someone you don’t know.

    • Hey Spider. I’m sorry if this came across as me ‘flaming’ you, it certainly wasn’t the intention. The shot was used as an example of a general trend I have noticed amongst cyclists around town. Which apparently doesn’t represent you at all – I probably shouldn’t have assumed it did. The reason I set up the photo in the first place was that you were cutting an interesting figure along Southbank and the road reflections suited the shot. I’m happy to take the shot down if you’re unhappy with how you are portrayed.

  7. This gut is the most relaxed, nicest , non confrontational person I know. He has no anger on the road, sounds like you do thou. he photo bombed you good and maybe your a bit sore about it. Don’t generalize, doesn’t suit.

  8. Give it a break. I’d flip off strangers taking my pic as well. Melbourne cyclists get enough bad press anyway so I can understand the distrust.

    • Hey Tim, I don’t really care about the gesture, it makes a more interesting photo, but I think it’s a bit odd and negative as a default reaction. I’ve only seen it a handful of times in 10 years of photographing strangers here and overseas.

  9. Haha the Internet is amazing. Link from a bike riding forum or similar I am guessing?

    Good shot, good general observations about a culture you are actually involved in (cycling).
    I love that the initial reaction is “this guy taking a photo of me MUST be bad press for cyclists!”
    And so to seemingly reinforce that… you flip him off!!

    Also, don’t nice people ask respectfully if something occurs they don’t like (and I can totally understand not wanting your photo taken)? I must have missed the change to giving the finger being changed from “f*@k YOU!” to “pardon me, do you mind kindly desisting from your present activity, my good man?”

    As Will has already said – LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!

  10. All this post seems to show is that cyclists from Melbourne aren’t particularly literate.

    Depending on where you’re riding round here though, it’s easy to begin to feel a bit defensive and confrontational when, at any second, some driver is likely to a] shout abuse, b] cut you off or c] open a door in your path.

    Melbourne roads are scary.

    • Based on your snarky opening comment, I’m not sure you need an excuse to feel confrontational.

  11. Nice article. I’m thinking about that subject a lot. As a cyclist, I’m simply disappointed by the reckless and arrogant behavior of car-drivers in Melbourne (Australia?). Then, when walking through Melbourne, I understand that people don’t like cyclists: why on Earth do they think they can claim footpaths only because the road is too dangerous? Every evening many of them rush through the pedestrian zones in South Warf and South Bank as if they were on a race track, not caring for anyone but their goal to be home as soon as possible (despite the signs asking them to ride at less than 10km/h).
    In general I find it astonishing how little Aussies care about traffic laws and common sense. Maybe we need a dialogue and working together instead of against one another. That way, we might see more smiles and less accidents.

  12. Hell yes I agree. I hope the hipsters are making this change (there are none in your photo – they all look pretty serious, Lycra-clad folk), but you are completely right. Cyclists with attitude don’t make more people want to ride. They just hate those of us who do.