It was our greatest modern writer George Orwell who, in his 1941 essay on the English character, conjured up the evocative image of old maids cycling through the mist on their way to Communionâ€¦
Gentility and modesty have been replaced by aggression and arrogance. Brimming with hostility, utterly indifferent to those around them, they appear to think they are above the law.
Of course, â€œthey” refers to cyclists, though anyone less retarded than Havers (a Teletubby, for instance) might note that it could equally – if not more equally, if Havers will pardon me briefly hijacking his Orwellian imagery bandwagon – refer to motorists, or indeed the public at large.
Havers is clearly having a bit of a blood pressure problem (well, it is for The Daily Mail after all – the poor readers canâ€™t possibly read anything unless itâ€™s bilious tripe, bless â€˜em) – he continues,
Normal rules about red lights, pavements and one-way streets are treated as a matter of supreme indifference by this new army of Lycra-clad maniacs, whose every action demonstrates their contempt for pedestrians and motorists.
Let me paraphrase that: Normal rules about speed limits, mobile phones and parking restrictions are treated as a matter of supreme indifference by the incumbent army of tin-box-clad maniacs, whose every action demonstrates their contempt for pedestrians and cyclists. See how it works, Nigel? You can generalise about everyone. Iâ€™m sure you donâ€™t abuse the speed limits and parking restrictions – although we all know about the mobile phone thing now.
When a cyclist bangs on the roof of my car or scrapes my mirror without even bothering to apologise, I sometimes wish for the good old days of Edwardian England, when young men would be sent to jail for swearing in the streets, causing a danger to the public or cycling without a light.
Oddly enough Iâ€™ve never had an experience â€œwhen a cyclist bangs on the roof of my car or scrapes my mirror without even bothering to apologise.” Havers conjures up a ludicrous image of a cyclist riding through the streets, wilfully hammering away at cars for no reason; but then thereâ€™s the rub: Motorists who get their cars hit by cyclists believe these things happen for no reason, and thatâ€™s because they have either just nearly mown down someone they didnâ€™t even see, or they simply believe that nearly mowing people down is perfectly within their rights (they – allegedly – pay more tax, goddam it, it must buy them something).
And oddly enough, rear cycle lights werenâ€™t always compulsory (the reason being that it was the responsibilty of the faster vehicle to sufficiently illuminate its way ahead) – I canâ€™t seem to find when this legislation was introduced, but it might make an interesting point – not that Havers will give a toss about the facts getting in the way of a good gobshite.
Havers really flails wildly in his ranting, pulling in seemingly random generalisations, assumptions, suppositions and pretty much anything he can to spit blood about anyone on two wheels.
They probably go on regular cheap flights overseas to hip new locations in eastern Europe or Africa, feeling very good about themselves as their planes emit huge clouds of noxious gases.
They do not bother to question whether their garish Lycra garments were made by children in the Third World, or, indeed, whether their bicycle was manufactured in some exploitative, low-wage factory in China.
Now come on, Nigel, letâ€™s see your air travel schedule and compare it to mine; letâ€™s see where all the bits of your car were made. Have you really gone and checked out the working conditions in the cycle factories in Taiwan? Of course you havenâ€™t. Do you really buy your clothes from firms such as Howies? Of course you donâ€™t. No-one buys all their stuff from unimpeachable sources even if there are any. But there you go, it just wouldnâ€™t be Daily Mail to take look in the mirror (pun not intended) now and again, would it?
And after this rather splendid spleen vent, it seems an appropriate moment to let Nick let rip at the latest oh so simple solution to the Death to all cyclists campaign supported by almost everyone in London.
Mary Williams, Brakeâ€™s chief executive, said: â€œIt is no surprise that cyclists, one of the most vulnerable groups of road users, are dying in increasing numbers. Britainâ€™s roads are still plagued by speeding drivers, as well as law-breaking uninsured, unlicensed, drunk and drugged drivers.”
Itâ€™s that kind of obsession with speed instead of educating car drivers about the needs of other road users that achieves nothing. Cars infringing into my local cycle lanes mostly do it at a crawl, well under 10mph. Iâ€™d put money on none of them being drugged or drunk either.
This childish thinking has led to a policy of â€œenforcement, enforcement, enforcement” instead of â€œenforcement, education and engineering”
We cyclists are the ones who pay the price for that shortsightedness.
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