Ken Livingstone, invested £400million into improving the cycling infrastructure in London, in order to demonstrate that ‘cycling is now associated with a modern cosmopolitan city that is in control and at ease with itself’, whatever that means. This might be bona fide bollocks, but you get the gist: cycling is modern, cosmo, good, pure, etc. Two years ago, the New Labour government announced a £47million funding pool for any city that willingly turned itself into a ‘cycling city’, where walking and cycling take precedence over driving and destroying the environment. Getting people into the saddle can make a ‘real difference to congestion and pollution in local communities’, said a minister. [Well, it can, you internal combusting smarty. Y‘know? Put your gob against an exhaust pipe and start breathing in, if the stuff coming out is so harmless.]
The first notable thing about the beatification of the bicyclist is that it explains why some of them – not all, I know! – are insufferably arrogant. I can’t be the only walker who has encountered sneering cyclists who, when you try to cross the road, look at you as if you are a grubby-haired chimney sweep who has just stepped on to the manicured lawns at Balmoral. [That’s because you had decided you could dash in front of them against the lights, as after all, they aren’t a car. People are always scurrying in front of you. As for being looked at in a nasty way, if it had been me on the two wheels, there would be a lot of swearing as well. Oy, are you colour blind? Don‘t you know the difference between red and green? Or do you think that lit up humanoid doesn‘t hold for you, you flabby, spatially challenged f’wit.]
Look, we’re never going to have ‘cycling cities’. Why not? Because people have children whom they don’t want to transport to school on a tandem thanks very much; because we do weekly shops which won’t fit into a wicker basket; because workmen need to deliver big things to businesses and building sites and that can’t be done on a BMX; and because some people like the speed and wind-through-the-hair feeling that comes with driving a Ferrari but not a Chopper. [I’d agree we’d need delivery vans and the like, but why should cities turn into horrible suburban stretches or gridlocks because children can’t catch buses, and why should we end up destroying one part of the world (Louisiana at present) because the other part’s role model is Jeremy Clarkson?]
Anyway, O’Neill exposes himself as an over-privileged dickhead:-
Anything that makes London a bit more like Paris is a good idea in my books. So I’m quite excited about mayor Boris Johnson’s cycle-hire scheme. Having tried out Paris’s bikes-for-hire during recent trips there, I can confirm that they’re perfect for people who enjoy cycling but not so much that we would ever fork out £1,000 for two wheels
£1000 - WTF? My cycle, a sturdy Dawes Colorado hybrid, fine for commuting and touring cost £399 brand new. Habitat armchair revolutionary. I bet he’d insist on wearing gloves if he ever came to hurling brickbats.