Cycling debate: what you said

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Nothing gets you, our readers, steamed up as much as cycling in London. Here, for your amusement or aggravation, are some of the most partisan letters and emails – both for and against – of the past 30 years

  • Cycling debate: what you said

    Faster than a speeding steamroller

  • ‘Grhhh! I hope Carol James never writes the sociology of the bicycle, or determines the correct line for the comrades to take on the bicycle revival! Who cares if it’s romantic and/or trendy? As long as people get on the things and ride them. As for the cobblers about bicycle clubs and working-class culture – grhhh! again. If you want to get into class use of cycles and cycle clubs you’ll find a far more complex picture than the superficial one you sketched out.’
    Pete Grafton, E7 (November 1975)

    ‘Cycling to and from work across London for the last four years, it never fails to amaze me how ignorant some pedestrians can be. Jeff Cotton (TO 1395) and Harry Bovis (TO 1396) miss the point completely. What if the likes of me, who does occasionally ride on the pavement, really did dismount and push our bikes every time? Bitter and twisted losers like Bovis and Cotton would simply have to shift their butts out of the way a bit more!’
    Tilo J Harting, SE10 (June 1997)

    ‘Your reader, Anouska Anquetil (TO 1838), is amazed that wearing cycle helmets isn’t the law yet. But she misses the point. We pedestrians should be made to wear helmets. That way we’d be protected against all the feral cyclists on the pavements these days – as I told the A&E staff at King George’s only last week.’
    Matthew Saxton, SW2 (November 2005)

    ‘As I cycled home through Green Park the other evening a fellow commuter called after me, “I could have sworn it says No Cycling.” I should have immediately retorted: “The only reason I’m not allowed to cycle through this park, unlike virtually every other park in London, is because the Queen owns it. I’ve just spent nine hours working hard to pay for not only my own family, but hers too so I’m sure she won’t mind me trying to get home as quickly as I can to see my daughter before bedtime.” – but unfortunately it took me until Brixton to compose.’
    Fred Freeman-Edmonson, SW4 (January 2006)

    ‘In likening bicycling to fascism, Michael Hodges (TO 1915) neglects the long history of cycling in progressive politics. Bicycles played an important role in the birth of feminism in the late Victorian era; the bicycle also made possible the daring acts of the French Resistance. The Viet Cong used bicycles to move arms and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail. [Left-wing Chilean politician] Jose Antonio Viera-Gallo said that “Socialism can only arrive by bicycle.” It is hard to conceive of a more egalitarian invention. As HG Wells said, “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of mankind.” ’
    Jack Thurston, email (May 2007)

    ‘Michael Hodges’s article about cyclists was spot on. The combination of extreme arrogance and amazing stupidity exhibited by cyclists in London just boggles the mind. Frankly, those cyclists being crushed by lorries are usually asking for it. Let’s call it Darwinian Theory at work – if you really are ignorant enough to pass a large vehicle on the inside or run a red light in a busy intersection then you really should not be breeding. I’m so disgusted by these rude two-wheelers that I’ve started cheering every time I see one hit the pavement.’
    AR, W1 (May 2007)

    ‘Having given up my car two years ago in favour of public transport, I’ve never been much interested in the war between cyclists and motorists that graces your pages. However, now the water-main replacement work on Cable Street has closed the cycle lane, I’m beginning to look at cyclists with a motorist’s hatred. Each morning I am confronted by these stormtroopers in Lycra on the pavement hurtling at speed.
    What part of “Cyclists dismount” don’t they understand? Anyone remember Ken’s 1980s “Pavements are for people” campaign?’
    Debbie Gorringe, E1 (May 2007)

    ‘I am a cyclist who can be found waiting patiently at a red light with the other traffic, shouting “tosser!” at every cyclist who ignores the signal. Do these ridiculous all-in-one DayGlo shiny leotards they wear make them think they are superhuman?’
    Jon Dyson, NW10 (May 2007)

    ‘Just once, it would be great to make a journey without deviation, repetition, hesitation or deflation. The roadworks on my route are a menace. Then there are builders who think cycle lanes are parking spots, delivery van drivers who reverse without looking and pedestrians busy nattering on their mobiles. And what do you say to a disabled person on a mobility scooter puttering the wrong way on a cycle lane?’
    Elaine Bradkte, by email (March 2008)

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