is reader-funded journalism. To keep it going and free-to-view, it takes people like you to act now and subscribe today for €5, €10, or €20 per month.

Deconstructing the truckers’ defence (part three)

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: When you listen to and transcribe the arguments made by opposers of the minimum passing distance law, strong narrative emerges that cyclists are people whose behaviour violates social norms.

This is part three. Read part one and two first — find them here.

Cycling is constructed as an inherently dangerous activity, with people who engage in it framed as reckless, irresponsible, and delusional: people who believe they are invincible and therefore knowingly refuse to protect themselves.

They are further inhuman because they would swerve into the path of an overtaking vehicle purely to get the driver into trouble. Verona Murphy does this on Today with Sean O’Rourke on 25 January this year:

“The new proposed law enforces a strict liability on only the motorist. It is irrelevant if the cyclist is the one who actually veers into that path, and at that time it’s recorded on video it can be shown that the distance wasn’t one metre in a certain zone or 1.5m in the country…

I do not understand why they refuse to protect themselves by wearing helmets…

we’ve got, we’ve got to inform the public. In Australia, what liability attaches to the cyclist?…

The cyclist isn’t mentioned, so if the cyclist veers further onto the road than is, when the motorist happens to be overtaking him, there is absolutely nothing…”

I should emphasise that Verona is by no means the only one to engage in this, and there are others who go much farther. Sean O’Rourke offered this jaw-dropper as cyclist fatalities climbed, in an interview with Ciaran Cannon in February 2017:

Ciaran Cannon: I was in the cycle lane, the defined cycle lane, and a bus passed very close to me, almost touching my elbow. Ahem, I’m an experienced cyclist, I was able to cope with that, but it’s a very, very frightening experience for the vast majority of cyclists…

Sean O’Rourke: Yeah and maybe the basic wisdom should be you don’t argue with a bus if you’re on a bike.

He listened to the situation described, and posited that the problem was that the cyclist did this crazy thing: in their form as incredibly vulnerable sack of flesh, they instigated an argument with an eighteen-tonne-metal-monster.

There is a word for this phenomenon: dehumanisation. Where people are aware of it, we usually think dehumanisation is only when a group of people are given animal-like characteristics, as has happened on Irish television.

However, dehumanisation also means representing a group of people as being lesser humans, as lacking some qualities that make us fully human. Case in point: knowingly engaging in an extremely dangerous activity, refusing to protect yourself, believing yourself to be invincible, picking a fight with a twenty-tonne machine, deliberately swerving into the path of a car hurtling past them.

The problem with what these people are making themselves guilty of is that the discourse they put out there, the national conversation they shape through their privilege of access to media broadcasts that reach almost every ear in our nation, is that discourse matching this tone and content is associated with the path to violence, often as a deliberate tactic in the process of training soldiers to kill.

Verona, Sean, and many others may never lift a finger to cause direct and deliberate harm to any cyclist, but they tell a very large group of people, all by definition armed with a deadly weapon, that cyclists are less than human, they are to blame for their own misfortune and more than that, they will try to pin that blame on you, the innocent driver.

You're read this much of the article... So, if you value our journalism, please subscribe today for €5, €10, or €20 per month.

They don’t commit direct violence against cyclists, but they turn the soil, work in the fertiliser, plant and water the seeds. They should not throw their hands up in shock if something grows.

Nadia Williams is a postgraduate researcher investigating the role of social dynamics in cycling uptake and safety. She lives car-free with her family in Dundalk. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

Subscription drive update: reached its target of 270 subscribers by the end of August -- thank you to all who have helped! Our new target is to have 300 subscribers by the end of 2022 -- originally this was hoped to be exceeded by the first year of running the site full time (end of October).

If you can help push above 300 subscribers, please subscribe today for €5 or more. If you have already done so -- thank you!

Please remember, every month there's a natural drop-off in subscriptions due to people getting new cards, cards stolen, Revolut not topped up etc.

*** is a reader-funded journalism publication. Effectively it's an online newspaper covering news and analyses of cycling and related issues, including cycle route designs, legal changes, and pollical and cultural issues.

There are examples, big and small, which show that the reader-funded or listener-funding model can work to support journalism -- from the Dublin Inquirer and The Guardian to many podcasts. To make it work for, it just needs enough people like you to believe!

Monthly subscriptions will give's journalism a dependable base of support. But please don't take free access for granted. Last year had an average of 15,800 readers per month and we know our readers include people who cycle and those who don't, politicians, officials and campaigners.

I know only a small percentage of readers will see the value of keeping this open enough to subscribe, that's the reality of the reader-funded model. But more support is needed to keep this show on the road.

The funding drive was started in November 2021 and, as of the start of June 2022, 250 readers have kindly become monthly subscribers -- thank you very much to all that have!

But currently, it's only around 1.6% of readers who subscribe. So, if you can, please join them and subscribe today via

Cian Ginty


  1. I despise the argument that “well they might be a little in the wrong by passing too close or cutting in front of you or turning across you, maybe, but the real issue is that you shouldn’t even be there”. How exactly is cycling in the cycle lane “arguing with a bus”. If you follow that line of argument to it’s logical conclusion then surely the bus driver “started an argument” with a vulnerable road use who they could easily kill without even having to get off their seat.

    Would Sean O’Rourke accept that line of reasoning in other interactions? Perhaps ones where he isn’t the one with all the power. I note that I’ve heard that argument many times when I relate stories of dangerous driving but when someone tells about the time a truck or bus tried to merge in front of them when they were in their car we never hear how the car driver should have just kept their distance with a sly insinuation that the whole thing was their fault for not knowing their place as a weaker, smaller being.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.