Review of British hate crime law considers misogyny and ageism, but not prejudice against cyclists

anti cycling headlines

Prejudice against cyclists might not have an officially recognised name, but whether you call it autochauvinism, veloism or manslaughter apologism there’s little denying it exists. And while it may not manifest itself as discrimination against cyclists as a class in quite the same way as other prejudices, discrimination against cycling as an activity is undeniably murderous in its outcome.

Social media platforms are saturated with prejudice towards cyclists.

anti-cycling tweets

Views like those expressed above are legitimised not only by the social media platforms – who absolve themselves of any publisher responsibility – but by endless articles in the mainstream media normalise prejudice against cyclists. Anti-cycling rhetoric and behaviour is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Unfortunately, this discrimination is not viewed as incitement – despite the fact that many thousands of cyclists are seriously injured on British roads every year and there are numerous examples of drivers targetting cyclists deliberately. Make no mistake, cyclists are dying as a result.


Given that anti-cyclist behaviour is considered a socially-acceptable hate crime and helps sell papers across almost all quarters, the media are not about to stop of their own accord.

Goths, men, women and elderly people could soon receive protection under hate crime laws following a review of current legislation by The Law Commission. However, rather than waste time extending the existing list, perhaps we should redefine the offence.

Currently the term ‘hate crime’ in law can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. These aspects of a person’s identity are known as ‘protected characteristics’. A hate crime can include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.

If we broadened the definition to any prejudice-motivated crime that occurred when a perpetrator targeted a victim because of his or her membership of a certain social group, we would all benefit – whether or not we cycled.

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  1. Philip


    The introduction of “hate crime” as a separate offence is one of the most unwelcome, and least intelligent, additions to the UK criminal justice system, and is effectively shutting down free speech in the UK since “hurt feelings” can now interpreted as a hate crime.

    It is also a very effective method of preventing the police from dealing with what most people consider to be real crime (burglary, physical assault etc) in favour of “hate crimes”.

    The laws against “verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property” already exist.

    There is little doubt we have an anti-cycling culture in the UK.

    Adding cyclists to the never ending, and sometimes laughable, list of persecuted minorities would not help to combat the anti-cycling culture one iota. And yes, I am a cyclist, and motorist.

  2. wulliam johm white


    I live in a semi rural town in noth wales , I ride an adult tricycle the ammout of verbal abuse I get is common I also get cut up and have almost been knocked off a number of times and to report to the police is a waist of time

  3. Victor Stroud


    Just because someone has an opinion about cyclists does not mean they hate them. Stop stirring the mud! When I started cycling in the sixties large vehicles where about 7ft6ins wide now they average 8ft plus. But the roads remain the same narrow cart tracks.

  4. Tom O’Toole


    I absolutely agree with Philip, i do not agree with the concept of ” hate” crime, a crime is a crime.

  5. Julian Pitt


    I think raising the separate identity of cyclists likely makes prejudice worse & may reduce willingness to cycle in general population. It also misrepresents reality in the sense that a sizeable proportion of population can cycle, & most adult cyclists also drive cars. Key issue seems to be trying to build safety into systems – eg segregated lanes, & increasing awareness in drivers. Best way of raising awareness is probably getting more people on bikes.

  6. Mike Fortune


    Totally agree with everything stated by Philip on 19/10/18 could not agree more.

    Can someone please explain to me why cyclists should be given preferential treatment just because they ride bicycles, am I missing something?

    I tend to be a bit confused at the attitude of cyclists who seem to think that wearing Lycra and a rather flimsy helmet (if you can call it that) is the sensible kit to wear when out cycling particularly as it is apparently so dangerous being a cyclist.

    I’m a biker and when I’m out and about I wear full body kit in the true sense of the term,crash helmet armoured jacket ,trousers, protective gloves and boots, oh! and I have to be insured and have my means of transport taxed.

    If I have a prang on my bike at 25/30 mph I reckon I stand a better chance of survival than a cyclist wearing cycling kit.

    So come on folks get a grip, your not special but it appears that you like to think you are, you are like everyone else you bleed, so suck it up and give it a rest.

    The roads are for everyone NOT just an elitist few.

  7. Matt Hodges


    The main trouble with your proposal is that it would protect the popular press journalists from the opprobrium they so richly deserve.

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