Fw: MP warns of Lycra Lout menace
MP warns of Lycra Lout menaceThe following article by Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, appeared in the Mail on Sunday last Sunday. As you can see it is an attack on cyclists that contains many questionable assertions.We will be writing as a group to Kate Hoey expressing our concern at her opinions and whilst not condoning irresponsible cyclists we will highlight the fact that large number of motorists break the law on a daily basis which potentially has a far more serious result and has an impact on cyclists behaviour.Kate Hoey is likely to listen more to the people who elect her so if you are a constituent of Kate Hoey -ie living in the Vauxhall, Brixton, Clapham area- please write to her and express your (pro-cycling) views. Please send letters to Kate Hoey MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. You may wish to also write to the Mail on Sunday - their address is Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, address letters to the editor Peter Wright.LukeTo find out who is your MP go to the UK parliament website constituency locator http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/ and type in your postcode.***MAIL ON SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER 2003
An attack which will strike a chord with motorists everywhere
THE REAL MENACE ON BRITAINS ROADS ARE SELFISH, AGGRESSIVE, LAW-BREAKING AND INFURIATINGLY SMUG LYCRA LOUTS
by Kate Hoey
As a child I cycled everywhere. From my fifth birthday until I was 11 l rode four miles each day to primary school. The journey was on country roads with virtually no cars, though there was always the risk of being held up by a herd of cows. But even then I had been taught to stop at crossroads and use hand signals. The little bell on the handlebar was rung fiercely when I come up to pass the occasional person walking by the roadside.
I recount this to make it clear that I have nothing against cycling. Indeed, when Sports Minister, I supported and encouraged the British Cycling Federation in its attempts to increase participation in a very successful sport. The first gold medal at the Sydney Olympics was for cycling and acted as a huge boost to the entire British team.
However, I do have something against the Lycra Lout cyclist who seems to take pleasure in flouting the law and deliberately winding up motorists. So it was with no surprise that I read the recent report of a survey by the RAC Foundation, It was a snapshot of driver behaviour in two cities, London and Glasgow. And it showed cyclists seem to show the least regard for the law and for their own and other peoples safety. The survey found one in ten drivers failed to stop at a red light, while another two out of ten accelerated through the amber. Bus drivers were even worse one in five in London went through the lights. But worst of all were cyclists with an astonishing 50 per cent in London and 25 per cent in Glasgow ignoring a red light.
In my constituency in inner London there is intense competition for road space and this can add to bad behaviour by all road users. But while the police seem to spend ever-increasing time and resources targeting motor offences, particularly speeding, cyclists appear to be able to break the law with impunity. I see this regularly as I drive in my Mini around London. As I waited patiently at the traffic lights near Parliament with a police car behind me, a cyclist rode past at a fair old speed straight through the red light. The police totally ignored the incident.
Since the introduction of Congestion Charging and the tinkering with London traffic lights, motorists in our capital city are already frustrated. The sense that there is one rule for them and another for cyclist merely feeds the resentment car users feel and risks bringing the law as a whole into disrepute. Lycra Louts dont just break the law; they often do so in an aggressive and threatening manner. How many times have you seen a cyclist deliberately riding in the middle of the road, preventing any car passing and screaming abuse at the poor driver who dares to try?
Another trick of theirs is to slip through on the inside just a you try turning left, or flying by so near that they knock against the wing mirror. The assumption is that drivers must always be in the wrong (there is a kind of innate moral superiority about cycling that assumes they should be immune from the law and have the freedom to do as they please).
The recent European Union proposal to make motorists involved in a collision with a bicycle automatically liable to pay compensation from their insurance, even if it was the rider who caused the accident, is grist to the mill of the cyclist rights activists.
Even in rural areas there are knock-on effects of anti-social behaviour. Farm Weekly reported a farmer in Devon complaining that cyclists caused cattle to stampede, and moving them on the roads from one field to an other was increasingly difficult.
And what of the poor pedestrians- the third-class citizens of the road? What protection is there for them against cyclists who have no compunction about mounting the pavements or riding over a zebra crossing when it is being used? The river walk on the South Bank of the Thames is a beautiful place to walk but it has been made quite intolerable for elderly pedestrians who struggle to avoid speeding bikes. Riding on the pavement has been illegal since 1835. Since 1999 police have been able to issue a fixed £20 fine, similar to a parking ticket, but it is a rare sight to see a policeman even warning an offender.
Cyclists are not forced to buy insurance to cover themselves or others unlike drivers of cars and motor Ike and scooter riders. Responsible cyclists and there are many can take out insurance covering legal liability and legal costs as well as theft and medical insurance for around £30 a year. The London Cycling Campaign actively encourages its members to do so. But it is still the cyclists choice.
It is not as if Government and local authorities deny the cyclist funding. Millions of pounds have been poured into creating thou sands of miles of cycle networks with s lanes in every part of our large cities. The Millennium Commission allocated £43.5 million of Lottery funds, the second-largest grant after the Dome, to the National Cycle Network. I am not against this, even though in some parts of London the roads have been drastically narrowed to create them, but I do think the least those who cycle could do would be to use them.
Yet time after time I am stuck behind someone ignoring the cycle lane and holding up the traffic in the road. If I dare to blow, my horn l am subjected to a combination of sign language and verbal abuse worthy of an Oscar. I am sure that such tactics are as annoying and enraging to responsible cyclists as they are the law-abiding decent ones who then suffer the backlash from the frustrated motorist.
Of course there are some very selfish car drivers who act equally irresponsibly but at least there is a tiny chance that they will be caught by the police. The Lycra Louts have no such fear. They don't have a driving licence to lose. So speeding, cycling under the influence of alcohol or abandoning their bike where it is obstructing pedestrians merits no penalty points and virtually no chance of even a police warning.
There are laws in place. The police tell me that a cyclist can be given a fine of up to £2,500 for jumping a red light and £1,000 for defective brakes. But it rarely occurs. Too often the cyclist acts as if he owns the road when in fact he has paid nothing to be there. They do not need a licence and they pay no road tax.
There should be room for every one on our roads. But I think it is time that those who cycle have to face up to their responsibilities and pay something for its upkeep like the rest of us. Maybe then the Lycra Louts who tarnish the image of all cyclists would gain some respect for the law.
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