Table of Contents
Part One: Welcome to the hornet's nest.
Poor Rob, he didn’t mean to piss off half of Britain’s cyclists. Who knew they were that touchy? Nonetheless, it’s a measure of how bitter the great divide is between cyclists and motorists that a seemingly innocuous tweet could generate such an instant tsunami of white hot anger.
So let’s examine how it happened in chronological order. On a peaceful Saturday night in February, Our columnist Rob Scott hopped on Twitter and saw an interesting tweet from Jeremy Vine, the well known journalist and cycling advocate. Here’s the tweet.
A former London native, Rob took the tweet at face value and he complimented Jeremy on a great video, while also agreeing the new cycle lane improved safety for families and young children. However, that’s not how all the trigger happy cyclists saw it. You be the judge.
Part Two: Triggered, oh so triggered.
Before we go any further, how do you reckon the rest of this exchange played out? Do you think all the cyclists calmly sat down and replied with finely nuanced insightful responses?
Of course not. It’s Twitter, and that means take no prisoners! It means war, it was time to go into full blown anti-hate mode! Here’s a sprinkling of the responses. Interestingly, not one cyclist commented on the positive part of Rob’s post… all they went for was the part THEY perceived as negative.
Part Three: Jeremy Vine's response...
Rob Scott says his intentions prior to writing his comment weren’t dishonourable. “When I saw Jeremy’s tweet I thought, I’ve always liked this guy. He’s a really talented journalist with a top shelf career as a war correspondent in some pretty scary places.
“My goal wasn’t to piss him off,” he adds. “My goal was to engage with him and to hopefully discuss a certain perspective which is often overlooked in the ongoing debate about cycling. I raced bikes for years at an elite level, I’m not unaware of the issues cyclists face on the roads.
“But on top of that, everybody approves of cycling, including us at Single File Please. What I was hoping to discuss is why cycling is so contentious. Is there a valid perspective we haven’t heard before?”
Sadly, Jeremy Vine gave Rob a reply – a reply best described as “fuck off…”
In fairness to Jeremy Vine, he wasn’t impolite, nor did he swear or use threatening language. However, he did send a signal, loud and clear, he remains blind to a certain double standard.
Part Four: The glaring double standard.
In a nutshell, cyclists say they need segregated infrastructure. They say they need more safety. They say they need to be separated from cars. Even Jeremy Vine stated the new cycle lane in his video improved ‘safety for all’ and yet, most infuriatingly, cyclists ALSO demand the right to ignore that infrastructure any time they want.
Quite understandably, most reasonable people are reacting to this situation with a simple question. What’s the point of building segregated cycling infrastructure if bike riders are allowed to ignore it?
One of the most viral images Single File Please has ever published is the following image. It gets right to the point of the matter. All too often cyclists demand cycling infrastructure for safety reasons, it gets built at great expense, and then they ignore it because ‘the road is a faster surface’.
Rob Scott also had this to say. “It was the overwhelming intolerance for a motorist’s perspective I noticed more than anything else. This is no longer cycling as I knew it back when I used to race. Cycling has become a political movement now, rooted in tribalism, with one tribe (cyclists) firmly convinced their perspective is the only perspective that counts. But it’s a flawed perspective.
“The majority of people understand our roads work best if the various classes of road users stick to their own bits of turf,” he adds. “For example, pedestrians know they should stick to footpaths. And motorists understand they should stick to their allocated lanes. But not cyclists. The modern cyclist seemingly wants it all. They want their own segregated lanes, and they want all of society to fund that, but they also want to use footpaths and main traffic lanes too.”
Part Five:- The Final Word
So yes, Rob copped quite a good comeback from Jeremey Vine. Indeed, many of Vine’s followers reckon Rob was served a world class smackdown. Oh well. That’s Twitter for you. No biggie. We all get ace’d sooner or later.
Nonetheless, playing the ‘Highway Code Card’ is frought with danger and here’s why. Whenever we do that, first we need to ensure we have a faultless driving record – lest we come across as a hypocrite. And that’s what Jeremy Vine found out the hard way – thanks to the aptly named Frank Bullitt.