I’m a POB
There’s many the time I’ve railed against the use of ‘POB’ as some sort of distinguishing factor between the speaker as a ‘real’ cyclist and the actions of some other ‘Person Onna Bike’. It’s not a dislike of acronyms (though I’m likely to beat anyone who says ‘lol’ too much with a track pump), and I have no awful childhood memories of a spitting television puppet (one for a certain generation there…). It was simply because I thought it was a bit arrogant.
Joe Driver Bloggs or Jane Pedestrian Doe can’t tell the difference. Won’t tell the difference. And when faced with the myriad anti-cyclist rants I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to point out someone in the middle distance and simply claim they’re not ‘real’. After all, when we complain about ‘drivers’ if the only argument that came back was ‘yeah, but he’s a boy racer/taxi driver/BMW driver, not a ‘real’ driver’ we’d rightly think the issue was simply being dodged.
But today the use of POB started to bother me for another reason. I was thinking about the humanisation that comes about quite naturally with cycling. Without a cage around us we’re able to interact with each other and pedestrians in ways in which drivers could only dream (if they could think, quite literally, outside the box that is). We can even interact with those in cars and buses a lot more. Filtering up traffic one morning my wheel kicked up a stone against a car door. I could immediately stop, realising it had happened, check for damage, and have a quick chat with the driver explaining what had happened and that the door was mark-free.
The space I got as she passed me half a mile on was as strong an indication I could have got at having connected as ‘people’. Humanisation means that we see people on bikes and people in cars, not cyclists and drivers. It breaks down the warring tribes (and I use the word knowing that suggesting there’s a ‘war’ is touchy, and it isn’t something I subscribe to, but for the minute I can’t think of a better word). What we need to be saying is that person there who just ran the red or rode without lights is a ‘Nutjob Onna Bike’ (a ‘NOB’ if you like), because when I ride a ‘person’ is exactly what I want people around to see.
After all, you never see Daily Wail articles ranting about ‘People’ being a menace.