When my wife and I first moved to Australia half a lifetime ago, we couldn’t believe what a wonderful country we had chosen. Australia is clean, with excellent infrastructure and work opportunities abound everywhere. But it didn’t take long for us to realise Australia is also a large nation with an almost complete reliance on it’s road network as it’s mass transit system.
By and large, Australia’s roads are mostly world class, if over saturated in certain locations. They need to be world class too. Heavy traffic and heavy vehicles rip up road surfaces very quickly otherwise. That’s why the heaviest vehicles pay the most registration. In Australia, annual vehicle registration is essentially a road maintenance tax, and that’s fair enough.
Over time it became clear a “crisis of purpose” exists on Australia’s roads. Namely, who is more important? Or perhaps put another way, which purpose is more important? Utility or recreation?
The road network in Australia is built to a certain standard for a reason. It allows the economy to function, for goods and services to move, for mining and heavy industry to exist. However, in every nation on earth, building and maintaining a world class road network is hellishly expensive. If local and state governments could still get away with building dirt roads they would. Providing a massive road budget each year is something they’d prefer not to do if they didn’t have to.
Which brings us back to “the crisis of purpose” I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. There’s something about cyclists which really pisses off Australia’s motorists. Most people can’t put their finger on it, they can’t articulate why they get angry. All they know is they get VERY angry whenever they see cyclists holding up traffic, and what makes it worse is cyclists are in denial about that.
As a social media platform, Facebook does some things well and it does other things poorly. One thing Facebook does very well is it provides a public town square where people can talk about the issues of the day.
The ‘town square’ thing that Facebook does so well is why the recent post on Australia’s Page (which shared one of our images) garnered so much commentary by average people who are desperate for a solution to the cycling problem. Clearly it’s a social issue which resonates at a visceral level with a huge number of people. Meanwhile, cycling advocates continue to deny there’s an issue at all.
Australia’s cycling advocates are bitterly opposed to compulsory single file for cyclists, indeed you could say the despise it, and they despise anyone who promotes it. But there’s a reason for this – Australia’s cycling advocates are incapable of seeing any perspective other than their own. In reality, Compulsory Single File for Cyclists is actually a global issue wherever shared road use is a problem.
"The problem doesn't exist," says Michael Kater, a controversial cycling advocate who loves to orchestrate online abuse towards motorists while hiding behind anonymous Facebook Pages. "The only reason cyclists are unpopular is because of big media and their negative stories!"
And thus we see the denial in one fell swoop. Cycling advocates feel an overwhelming need to defend cycling to the death in almost religious terms. More often than not their judgement is clouded, and their ability to seek a reasonable outcome is blinded by a need to promote cycling as the number one form of road use above every other form of road use.
Despite the relentless denial by cycling advocates around the globe wherever this problem manifests itself, the problem is obviously real and in desperate need of a solution. The Italians solved their particular cycling problem by being the first nation in Europe to implement Compulsory Single File. In no time at all Italy’s cycling fatality rate fell by 30% while nations like The Netherlands have seen their cycling fatality rates continue to soar. Quite predictably, Michael Kater says the data is false.
“In The Netherlands over 35% of the adult population rides a bike to work,” says Kater. “We can do that in Australia. It’s irrelevant the average temperature in Australia is 15 degrees Celsius warmer and the average distances are ten times longer. All of that is irrelevant. What we need to do is to stop spending money on roads for motor vehicles and spend that money on roads for bicycles instead!”
"Besides, the image is fake!" say Michael Kater. "Why can't the public see that? The people who made that image should be prosecuted for hate speech. It's nothing more than an attempt to drum up hate against a minority group."
Between February 2018 and October 2019, Australia’s biggest Facebook group for cyclists was a private group called The Revolution. In that group, cycling advocates who were obsessed with “fighting the good fight” colluded together to engage in online abuse towards motorists who said negative things about cycling, and also to fight against Compulsory Single File for Cyclists.
The Revolution was shut down in October 2019 but Michael Kater’s work has been saved for posterity. Kater’s standard modus operandi was, and remains, an ongoing claim which argues every image which shows cycling in a negative light is a forgery – no matter HOW real it is. Even when it is obvious an image is real, he’ll argue to the death it’s a forgery.