Especially during planting and harvest seasons, there is a wealth of messaging about safety on roadways, often directed at both farmers who are driving massive machinery and sometimes-impatient automobile motorists. But rarely are cyclists ever mentioned in these kinds of safety notices — at least until this week. A long criticism of how cyclists can act dangerously around farm equipment was posted to the Facebook page Farmers Against Misinformation, and in just a few days, it has drawn over 16,000 shares, 10,000 comments, and 43,000 reactions.
It’s certifiably viral, particularly when you consider how niche the farming industry is.
The “polite-ish notice” was made by someone identifying themselves as “an irritated farmer,” and based on some of the language used, we have no doubt about their high level of irritation. The criticism in the post is largely centered on too many cyclists not sharing the road and riding two-abreast even when large agricultural machinery is approaching.
“If I’m driving a car I always give plenty of ‘safe space’ when passing cyclists which is only fair, we know how sensitive you are to your requested road space, you have just as much right to the roads as anyone,” the Facebook post states. “HOWEVER, if I’m coming at you in a bloody great big tractor with 20 tons behind me on a single track road, do me and yourself a favour and STOP for one second, either move as far over to your side of the road or just step on to the verge if there is one, so I can pass safely, do not just continue at full speed and then piss and moan as you go past because if it goes wrong you’ll end up being pressure washed off a tractor wheel.”
Many of the comments on the post supports this position about cyclists. And there’s certainly a point to be had. Farm machinery is not as mobile as typical cars, and country roads have little to no shoulder and are banked by drainage ditches. Most tractor and combine drivers drive slowly and cautiously and move over as far as possible, but for a cyclist (or motorist or group of runners) to not share the road can be a major hazard to the farmer — a farm machine in the ditch can lead to too many unfortunate financial or injury implications.
“There’s a lot of arrogant selfish stupid cyclists on the road these days. All they care about is self, self, self and sod everyone else,” one comment said.
Another noted: “I’m with the Farmer on this one. The cost of repairing a tractor tyre, not to mention the time off the road during harvest season is unbelievable. I cannot stand entitled cyclists and for the Govt to advocate side by side riding is ridiculous. Yes cyclists are the most vulnerable as with pedestrians, so if a big tractor is coming towards you, get out of the way!”
Of course, not all cyclists behave this way, and it’s heartening to see when respect is shown on the roadways. There is an argument to be made that planting and harvest season safety recommendations should be broadened to include more on cycling, running, and other pedestrians who may be encountered on country roadways.
To see the May 14 Farmers Against Misinformation post and to add comments, visit this link.