To you and me, this lit-up-like-a-Christmas-tree cyclist is pretty darn visible. But perhaps not to your average motorist, hence the well-worn phrase: “Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.”
SMIDSY is usually uttered when some daft driver has knocked you off your bike at night even though you’re dripping with LEDs and smothered in Scotchlite.
Matthew Parris may be scolded by the Press Complaints Commission – a slapped wrist, at best – but those cyclists asking PC Plod to take a look at his “incitement to hatred” are barking up the wrong tree.
In February some new laws come into operation in the UK. There’s the new incitement to homophobic hatred law (oops, I’ll get knobbled there, then, apparently I’m an American homophobe obsessed with sex), and the linked religious hate law. But cyclists are not all homosexuals (there are some fine gayand lesbian cycling clubs, though – Dykes on Bikes, love it) and nor is cycling a religion.
In order to nail Matthew Parris – to coin a phrase – we therefore need to formalise what we all know to be true. That cycling is a religion.
It’ll help if we agreed to a slight name change. So, it’s not cycling that we worship, it’s cyclism.
Our Founding Father*, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily Shimano.
And forgive us our footpath trespasses,
as we forgive them that force us off the road.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the powermeter, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
As I reveal on this BikeBiz.com story, the UK Press Complaints Commission has received 200+ complaints about the Matthew Parris garrot-a-cyclist joke.
Naturally, most of the complaints have been received in the last few days so the Parris article isn’t the most complained about feature in 2007…but had the complaints all arrived in December, the article would be the third most hated article of the year.
Parris has already apologised (“”I offended many with my attack on cyclists. It was meant humorously but so many cyclists have taken it seriously that I plainly misjudged. I am sorry.”) but should that stop the complaints? Exactly how much grovelling do we need to see before we collectively forgive Mr Parris?
Via The Times, I’ve invited him on a bike ride. A UK bike supplier will kit him out with a top-of-the-range bike and as much Lycra as he can stomach. Let’s see if he takes up the invite. As I said to the editor of The Times – who is a cyclist – I promise I won’t booby trap the route.
“A bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first up against the wall when the Revolution comes.”
Come the Revolution a little black book containing the names of certain citizens will be opened. These citizens – some of whom have called for the death of cyclists – will be taken out at dawn and shot*.
Daily Mirror columnist (anti-cycling quote from 2002)
“Bicycles are for children…[they are] like masturbation – something you should grow out of. There is something seriously sick and stunted about grown men who want to ride a bike….And if we truly cared about safety on our roads, then we would make a bonfire of all those stupid hats, all that hideous Lycra and every bicycle in the land.”
TV frontman and The Times motoring columnist (anti-cycling quotes from 2002)
“When will people understand that roads are for cars and that there is no danger at all from speeding motorists if walkers and cyclists steer clear?”
“I was reading The Mirror the other day and came across a letter from a reader who wrote, ‘I was riding my bike to work when this red Ferrari pulled up next to me. Out of the window, Jeremy Clarkson shouted ‘Get a car’, and drove off.’ What I actually said was, ‘Get a car you hatchet faced, leaf-eating Nazi.'”
Actor (anti-cycling quote from 2006)
“Much of their environmentalism is nothing more than posturing. If you conducted a complete audit of the lifestyles [of cyclists], you would quickly find that they are far less green than they claim. 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.
“Pomposity and selfishness runs through everything committed cyclists do.
“I have longed to have a stick to jam between the spokes of their wheels and bring them to a deservedly painful halt.
“Once, at the National Theatre, I had to share a dressing room with another actor who insisted on bringing in his bicycle…I often felt like putting a knife through the tyres.”
BOB AND MADISON
These two US shock jocks used to rant and rave on G105 in Raleigh, North Carolina. In September 2005 they held a listener call-in where listeners were encouraged to share any violent activities they participated in against cyclists, including running them off the road. One of the two DJs admitted that he carried empty soft drink bottles in his car to throw at cyclists. Following protests from cyclists, the DJs were suspended by Clear Channel Communications, owner of the radio station.
US shock jock, Jammin’ 95.5 (alleged anti-cycling quote from 2006)
“When I hear on TV that a cyclist has been hit and killed by a car, I laugh‚ I think it’s funny. If you’re a cyclist, you should know that I exist, that I don’t care about you, that I don’t care about your life.”
PK later recanted after being taken for a bike ride.
The Times columnist (anti-cycling quote from 2007)
“A festive custom we could do worse than foster would be stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.”
Got more names to add into the little black book of anti-cyclists? Email them to carltonreidAmac.com
* That is, shot by our photographer, recording for posterity the columnists’ first Bike Buddy sessions.