A journalist has responded to Jeremy Vine's call for drivers to be banned from overtaking cyclists in major cities, saying the idea is "ridiculous" and that "the real problem isn't motorists but Jeremy Vine himself".
Jake Wallis Simons is also the editor of the Jewish Chronicle and penned the column in The Spectator as a response to Vine's comments, which unsurprisingly made bank holiday weekend headlines after being published in the Sunday Times, the presenter and broadcaster suggesting "we shouldn't allow any overtaking of bicycles in big cities".
"That's one step. And I'm starting to think I want cars to pull over if they see me behind them because they know I'm faster," he said. "You look at it from their point of view: they bought this vehicle that they saw advertised speeding around a mountain at 120 miles an hour, and they can only move at seven. And they can't accept the fact that cyclists are faster."
Mr Wallis Simons said the idea is "ridiculous", adding that "[as] a cyclist myself" he does not believe that motorists should pull over to let those on bicycles pass.
"On the whole they go faster than me," he wrote. "The average speed of traffic in Britain's biggest cities is 22.6mph, which is a lot faster than Vine ever cycles, and me too if I'm on my Brompton. And even if cars are stuck in slow-moving traffic, it's the cyclist's job to weave his way safely through the gaps, not theirs to pull over meekly to the side of the road as if Judge Dredd was looming in their mirrors."
According to the London Assembly, weekday (7am to 7pm) traffic speeds between 2008 and 2018 dropped from 8.7mph to 7.1mph in central London and 20.3mph to 19.3mph in outer London, while recent research by sat-nav manufacturer TomTom crowned London the world's slowest city to drive in (of those included in the research), ahead of Bengaluru, Dublin and Sapporo.
Mr Wallis Simons suggests that there has already been an effort to "pound drivers into submission" and that they have become "public enemy number one".
"I suspect the real problem isn't motorists but Jeremy Vine himself," the column continues. "He swans around London like a member of the morality police wearing a large camera rig on his head used to film motorists' indiscretions, which seem to occur more often in his life than anybody else I know, and edit them into Matrix-style whizzy videos. He's a cyclist powered (rather slowly) by the fuel of self-righteousness. I'm a cyclist myself and even I can see this.
"So let's make an amendment to the Highway Code, stipulating the following: no motorist is permitted to pull over to let Jeremy Vine pass. After all, the zealots don't represent the moderates."
Last year, the writer criticised the Highway Code changes, brought in with the aim of better protecting vulnerable road users, in a much-criticised article
which "perpetuates all the worst myths and misunderstandings about the recent Highway Code changes".
His response to Vine's latest comments came after they were published in the Sunday Times this weekend, the BBC and Channel 5 presenter also making the case for segregated infrastructure across London, telling the newspaper that "painting a lane just doesn't work".
"Drivers ignore it. They sit in it, they park in it, they veer into it. We need to have segregated lanes, and there just aren't enough of them. There are 15,000km of roads in London and 175km have a segregated cycle lane, so we're nowhere near having as many segregated lanes as we need," he said, pointing out that he believes many more people would cycle if they were not forced into frightening situations with dangerous drivers.
"At the moment, they think: 'No way am I putting my life in the hands of some van driver who's been up until two in the morning taking drugs' or whatever. They just don't like the odds. At some point they'll realise the odds have shifted in their favour and they'll start cycling.
"My wife has told me I'm not allowed to drive any more because I drive too slowly. This is a very unusual situation in a marriage. And the reason I drive so slowly is that I'm suddenly so aware of the danger of two tonnes of metal that will go at 60mph if I just touch my right foot.
"The thing that makes the roads dangerous isn't even the cars, it's the driver's mind. And drivers, a lot of them, are still in the 1970s. They still believe they literally own the road. So we get this stuff about 'We were here first' or 'We pay tax and you don't'. And until we change that mindset, we haven't got a chance."
Vine also touched upon his own view of cyclists before taking up the bicycle as his primary mode of transport, explaining that he used to be "anti-cyclist" before he started commuting by bicycle, but is now a "totally paid-up member of the cycling fraternity because I just found it wonderful".
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.