By now I’m sure everyone has seen this video clip of the Good News Week.  I don’t watch the show but it looks like various comedians have a round table comedy skit where they all go off on a rant about something that bothers them.

Anyway, Magda Szubanski goes over the top and takes it a little too far with her rant about cyclists.  Fair enough.  I can see the humor she points out in us tapping around the cafes in our lycra and cycling shoes.  We do heaps of stuff that outsiders find comical.  We’re a prime target for humor.  The jokes practically write themselves.

(ffwd to 1:30 onwards)

Magda’s jokes start going down the toilet when her and Julia Morris start going on about “take them out with your car!” and “open your door on them!”.

I know they think they’re being funny, but we can all agree that these type of comments in front of millions of viewers fuels the very hot fire that already exists between motorists and cyclists.

When I heard this section of Magda’s rant I immediately thought of Michael Forbes.  If you don’t know who Michael is, here’s a bit about him from a comment he posted on Channel 10′s website in response to the show (used with Micheal’s permission):

My name is Michael Forbes. 15 months ago I was hit by a truck and ricocheted into a parked car whilst riding my bicycle on Beach Road. The accident was absolutely no fault of my own and I am now a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. GNW has always been my favourite hour of television and nothing has made me more angry than last night’s episode. For someone who is getting paid to lose weight to carry on like that last night showed no understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle and keep that weight off. Beach Road gets more cycle traffic than car traffic on the weekend and it is best that they do not use the bike path as it would not take long for a child to be struck by a cyclist at speed. So excuse me if I have taken this comedy show a little bit seriously in this segment but could you imagine my anger as somebody goes on a rant about knocking cyclist off their bikes on the exact road that life as I knew it ended? Especially someone who is respected in this community. I can honestly say I have not been more angry than right now in my entire life. When my wife makes her way into a cafe wearing her cycling outfit by losing weight through exercise to meet me in my wheelchair, if you are there Magda be sure to expect me to introduce myself. This rant from my perspective is infinitely worse than Kyle’s effort on the radio.

Most cyclists in Melbourne either know Michael personally or have heard of his accident.  It’s probably every cyclists’ worst fear and that’s why his story resonates with us all.  It’s also why comments like this in the media hit home so hard.

I phoned Michael to see if he wanted to use this blog as a platform to extend an invitation to meet Magda in person and show her the weight that her “jokes” carry.   Thankfully Michael is following up with getting in touch with Magda on his own accord. As it turns out she lives in the same neighborhood as both Michael and I so it shouldn’t inconvenience her too much. I think Micheal can deliver a powerful message to Magda like no one else can.  He won’t even have to say a word.

I don’t want to be the pot calling the kettle black here. I’m not going to be self-righteous and say that cyclists are angels and we do no wrong.  Take a look at the video I posted yesterday.

The point that I’d like to make to Magda is that you are are considered role model by many.  You are in a position of influence and have a voice that can reach millions of people.  Being in that position comes with an enormous amount of responsibility – even if you think you’re only making jokes.  You have the luxury of going back to your dressing room and have no second thoughts about what you’ve just said.  You have no comprehension of the physics at work when a car hits you while riding a bike. Many of us can attest that it’s far from being a joke.   All it takes is one cyclist to disgruntle one driver and then it’s the next undeserving cyclist who comes along who cops it – possibly an an act of road rage that you helped influence.

Kyle Sandilands (local radio shock jock) has had to feel the repercussions of blurting out inappropriate comments and ironically one of them has been about you. Perhaps use Kyle as an example and think about what you say in front of millions of viewers before you say it (Channel 10 is not innocent either. The GNW was not shown live and the producers chose to broadcast Magda’s comments).

You have to remember, these people out riding bikes who you may dislike, are also husbands, wives, mothers, sons, daughters, professionals, etc. They want to come home safely after their exercise just like you do. I hope you take the opportunity to meet Michael Forbes face to face to see the realities of where your jokes can lead.

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