The Daily Mirror tailed David Cameron on Wednesday and caught him violating four road laws on his cycle ride to the House of Commons. Red lights ignored, one-way streets transgressed, bollard flows flouted, the Leader of the Opposition, a 'cycling menace', according to the Mirror, is hanging his head in shame.
Actually, only four traffic violations on route shows him to be a relatively responsible cyclist. Compared to the standards set by most cyclists anyway. On the same route I reckon your average London cyclist breaks a dozen or so. London is slowly being adapted for cyclists without any real thought about the consequences for pedestrians, public transport users, or cyclists themselves. Cyclists don't have to know the Highway Code, they don't have to pass any sort of safety or proficiency test, they don't have to take out insurance, there is no real enforcement of road safety laws when it comes to cyclists. So it's a bit of a ridiculous (and dangerous) situation really.
It is impossible to walk from my place in Hackney to London Fields station without walking on a cycle lane or taking a detour. From time to time, I'm barked at by a cyclist on the way (yes, despite the fact that they have no training, London cyclists tend to be very vocal), only to be nearly mowed down by a cyclist bombing down the pedestrian lanes in the Fields. How many times have you been on a bus crammed with 100 people or so crawling behind a single cyclist going at about 3mph?
All the Mayoral candidates want to expand provision for cyclists in London. Can I suggest that they properly think through the consequences for all Londoners before they do so? In the dash to look green and appease a vocal pressure group, nobody has given this issue proper strategic consideration.
A friend once described cyclists as smug, self-satisfied, narcissists. I thought that was very harsh even if their number does include the Leader of the Opposition and Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayoral candidate. But a bit more consideration of the consequences of turning London into a cyclist's post-industrial nirvana wouldn't go amiss.
Post script: Why don't I cycle? Have you seen the way I drive? If there are others on the road who are that bad then it is just not safe at all. And have you seen how silly those helmets look? No, thank you.
Post script 2: You can WATCH David Cameron's traffic violations here! God bless the Daily Mirror.