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What’s wrong with calling drivers “cagers”?

Interesting topic came up on Visordown the other day… the use of the term “cagers” for car driver. Someone used it in a non-offensive way when talking about hazards posed on roundabouts, but this reply came back:

“I’d suggest that you ignore the ‘cage’ thing though. It distracts from the fact that what you are really dealing with is a mind/person wrapped in a car.

“Think yourself into their heads…they may be dozey, distracted etc. The ‘cage’ they’re wrapped in is NOT the problem nor is everyone in one a dozey ‘cager’.”

Personally, I’ve never really liked the term, but hadn’t rationalised it quite as clearly as this.

First up, how many of us with a bike licence also drive cars? How many of us actually DON’T have a car licence? Very few I’d suspect.

And how many came from cars to bikes, rather than the other way round? If we were in 1967 or even 77, I’d suspect that most of us would have had a bike first. In 2007, I’d suggest that if you are 40 or under, you probably had a car first.

It’s a weird leap that people make when they get a bike after driving a car for 10 years – they do a 5 day DAS course, notch up 1000 miles on a Powered Two Wheeler and suddenly everyone on four wheels is an aggressive alien species, a “cager” and a “dozy tw*t” “out to kill them”.

Does that mean the newbie rider was a dozy tw*t too before they gained their ‘wheels’?

I doubt they’d admit that they were “out to kill” bikers when they were on two wheels, so it seems strange to label the rest of the four wheeled road users that way.

That’s not to say that car drivers becoming fledgling bikers don’t learn new things on a bike course, cos they do… a recurring theme at the end of a DAS course is “I never realised… I never knew… I didn’t understand…” how there are bike specific problems that we as riders deal with every day.

The majority of drivers out there are doing the best they can. There are doubtless a few of them who really ARE completely inattentive to the job in hand 24/7 just as there are a few psychopaths – but we’ve both sorts in the biking world too – they just tend to get to meet the ghost of Darwin rather sooner on two wheels.

Likewise a few highly skilled drivers and riders are out there, but along with the dopy drivers and the psychopaths, they are one of the extremes corners of a triangle, with the largest body being “average” riders and drivers who just get on with the job with the skills they’ve got.

And like all average people, doing any task whatsoever, we and they are fallible.

A defensive riding mindset understands and accepts that, and seeks to deal with it. But treat everyone else on the road as our enemy and we’re worryingly close to a ghetto mentality which rejects rather than embraces. Then understanding other road users by getting ‘thinking yourself inside their head’ becomes next to impossible, and our safety goes down rather than up.

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