A quick revision of the threads in the "Advocacy and Safety" forum provides another reminder of the way that cyclists and motorists set themselves up in opposition to one another in some sort of contest to decide who "owns" the road.
In the car corner we have the argument that cars are bigger and faster and (supposedly) pay their way, while cyclists are weak, pathetic bludgers who break the law. In the bike corner we have the argument that cars are oversized, dirty, smelly, dangerous, oversubsidised and that drivers are totally inconsiderate of anyone else.
Of course, this argument often gets taken outside of the forums on the occasions that we choose to venture into the outside world. There are a number of threads here that tell of situations in which cyclists have abused/been abused by drivers for no good reason. Both sides cling to their beliefs (quite irrationally at times), with no consideration of any opposing viewpoint.
I'm going to step into some radical (possibly naive and idealistic) ground and ask why it necessarily has to be so? When you think about it, both are on the road for the same reason (i.e. travelling from point A to point B), and for all the arguments about who roads were built for, isn't this the main function of a road? Why shouldn't they get along?
All it really requires is for people to give up the idea of "owning" the road, and is that such a big sacrifice? Some will say that it involves giving up some of our freedom, but I really don't see it. In fact, I would argue that letting these ideals go would actually give us more freedom.
How so? Well, I'll provide an example from my own experience. About five years ago I was in a habit of abusing just about every driver who annoyed me. Those that I didn't abuse generally got the finger salute. The thing was, I'd then spend the rest of that ride thinking of all the things I wanted to do to them or should have said to them. With all that aggression in my mind I wouldn't be able to enjoy the ride anymore. And for what? It's not like it was going to change what happened
Now, I very rarely bother with the abuse/finger salute (if ever). When these situations occur, they're generally forgotten completely within ten minutes, and as a consequence I'm free to enjoy the rest of the ride. Now, I don't know how this works from the perspective of drivers, but surely one must question the wisdom of carrying aggression around for a day because a cyclist "held them up" for 3 seconds.
So why shouldn't we all get along?