"I have completed my first year as a London cyclist reborn, and realise I was wrong"

classic33

Legendary Member
Simon Jenkins: I'm happy to eat my words over London's 'heroes' on two wheels
"Columnists are often asked if they change their minds. Do such self-opinionated persons ever admit they might be wrong? Just for once? The answer is yes. I have completed my first year as a London cyclist reborn, and realise I was wrong.

I used to think cyclists were a civic nightmare. They were anarchists of the public realm. They thought themselves above the law. They rode where they liked, when they liked, shouting, whistling, abusing pedestrians and drivers alike. Other citizens might respect traffic lights and road signs. To a London cyclist, such curbs were monstrous diktats.

When the inevitable occurred and there was an accident, the cyclist was never to blame, even when overtaking on an inside left-turn. The lobbyists would demand the arrest, fining, imprisonment and banning of any hapless motorist who must, by definition, have been at fault. To me, cyclists were Lycra louts, self-proclaimed saints of the tarmac jungle.

Cyclists claimed not only their own lanes on the road — swerving out to occupy whole lanes for one puny bike — but lanes on pavements and footpaths too. Pedestrian users of such spaces were peasants, to be abused and, if necessary, clipped with a handlebar to teach them a lesson. How dare they allow their dogs and children to get in the way of holy bikers?


Cyclists knew no highway code. They respected no rule of the road, weaving in and out of walkers, crashing into each other, liberal with expletives. In my experience, most of them needed courses in anger management.

As for “Boris bikes”, Mayor Johnson said they would cost taxpayers nothing, yet City Hall has ended up paying more than half the £11 million-plus annual cost of the scheme, while sponsor Barclays is pulling out early. Unlike similar schemes in Paris and New York that made a profit, London’s cyclists demanded 10,000 bikes virtually free at someone else’s expense. According to Transport for London, the average cyclist is white, university-educated and of above- average income. This group claims the Mayor’s patronage largely because Boris is himself a cyclist. They are unavailable in poorer swathes of London to the east and south of the river. To me, Boris bikes were London’s wind turbines, a crazy, faddish subsidy from poor to rich.

All that is what I thought. Nothing changes our view of the world like passing through the golden gate from the third person plural to first person singular. After a year of cycling I realise I was wrong."



 

Shut Up Legs

Down Under Member
Unfortunately, the journalist ruins the good start with the second half of the article, which is just as biased towards cyclists as the first half was biased against. That's why I 'liked' your post, but then retracted it. No offence, @classic33, mate, but I think the article probably doesn't do cyclists any favours overall.
 

deptfordmarmoset

Full time tea drinker
Location
Armonmy Way
Why haven't you reproduced the second half of the article?
Yes, I thought the most interesting bits were in the second half. A bit that chimed with me:

We have become catalysts for the reform of London’s archaic one-way streets and its “dumb” traffic lights. That traffic engineers should be stuck in the early-20th century shames London as a modern city. Cyclists see no point in being ruled by stupid one-way signs or waiting idly at red lights. Such impediments to the efficient use of urban space are for wimps and robots.
It's the inefficient use of space that gets me the most. There don't appear to be any one way streets that have become so because of any danger presented by cyclists. They are restricted to one way because of the size of motor vehicles (and, every increasingly for parking). I still don't think that there are any red lights in the country that are there because of a danger that cyclists cause. (I did have a rather pointless dispute about this with a Brummie expat.) And yet we sit there watching traffic go nowhere, lumped in with the inefficient and dangerous space users, near or at the front of the queue. The bike is a solution to that inefficiency and yet it's prevented from fully using its go roundability because we're lumped in with the motors.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Talk about damming oneself with faint praise.
 

subaqua

What’s the point
Location
Leytonstone
problem with catalysts is that they help the reaction but don't change in it . and we as cyclists need to change as the infrastructure does.
 

jarlrmai

Veteran
Bizarre article to be honest. I was expecting his change of heart to be expressed differently than it was, the second half almost reads like a parody of a cyclist, like it's sarcastic or something.
 
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