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Conservative MP Philip Davies accused of "massive prejudice against cyclists" after "angry email rant" to constituent who questioned his "contradictory" road safety views and number plates for cyclists stance

The cyclist was left disappointed by his MP's "aggressive tone" and that Davies "ignores the overwhelming cause of road danger, which is drivers of motor vehicles", instead "enthusiastically" supporting dangerous cycling proposals...

A cyclist in Bradford frustrated by his MP's views on cycling and road safety reported receiving an "angry rant" from the politician displaying "raw prejudice" against cyclists having emailed him to discuss his attitude to making the constituency's roads safer and the topical debate around dangerous cycling proposals.

Sir Philip Davies has been MP for Shipley in Yorkshire since 2005, the Tory politician earlier this month stating that cyclists should have a licence and registration plates as a means of "tracking those that cause problems or flout the laws of the road". He has also written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper asking for the proposals to be implemented and his Twitter/X feed features numerous retweets of Harper communicating the government's intention to introduce "dangerous cycling" laws.

> 'Dangerous cycling bill' will not become law, after UK general election announced by Rishi Sunak

One road.cc reader challenged Davies on his cycling views, telling us that the constituency is "a bit of a hellhole for road safety" and that he has "never been terribly impressed by Davies' responses". The recent comments about number plates for cyclists and "enthusiastic" support of "dangerous cycling proposals" was the final nudge our reader needed to email his MP.

Philip Davies tweets

However, following multiple replies, much of which amounted to "an angry rant", the cyclist was left frustrated by the MP's refusal to "engage with the argument and facts", instead displaying "raw prejudice" and "completely misrepresenting my point of view".

In the first reply, Davies declines the offer to join our reader on a bike ride, and concludes: "I am not sure what the issue of licencing would be if cyclists are all saints as you seem to suggest. Perhaps you simply don't want cyclists to be held accountable for their actions for some reason. If you think that nobody has been seriously injured as the result of an irresponsible cyclist then I feel it is you in need of education rather than me."

Philip Davies emails

In response, our reader pointed out obviously he does not, as Davies suggested, believe "all cyclists are saints", and accepted that cyclists can cause harm, going on to make the point that his argument is "about likelihood, magnitude and probabilities" where the "overwhelming danger is bad infrastructure and bad drivers".

"There are three areas of frustration," he later told us about the email exchange. "The first is he ignores the overwhelming cause of danger which is drivers of motor vehicles. The danger of cyclists to pedestrians and pedestrians to cyclists is just completely insignificant compared to that and that's just a matter of clearly available statistics and basic physics.

"The second point is that I've had collisions with pedestrians who ran onto the road and there's no protection for cyclists from dangerous pedestrians. I don't think there should be much because, you know, I got cuts and bruises but it's such a rare occurrence relative to the harms of motor vehicles as a cyclist. Pedestrians doing dangerous things is not my top worry compared to motor vehicles, but statistically you find it quite hard to say that cyclists are a greater danger to pedestrians than pedestrians are to cyclists. I think that was one of my points and he just refused to engage with that.

"My third frustration is with the tone of emails which I felt was very aggressive. He repeatedly says 'I bet you think that cyclists are all saints' and I repeatedly said to him 'no clearly some cyclists are dangerous idiots' and he just would not accept that I recognise the danger from cyclists. He was completely misrepresenting my point of view and not engaging with what I'm saying and I felt that he had this very prejudiced view of cyclists — that every single one is a menace, every single one is a danger and they can be studied and lumped together in a group, so therefore I'm trying to defend these dangerous cyclists or something. It was a fairly stupid thing to say on his behalf."

Philip Davies emails

In response to our reader's latest email, Davies replied: "Perhaps you will come down to London sometime and stand by the pedestrian crossing outside the House of Commons and count the number of cyclists who drive through a red light. I can tell you now that it will be easier to count the number who stop for a red light. However, you can still believe that all cyclists are wonderful people who are always wronged and never wrong. The experience of the rest of us is very different whether you like it or not."

Again, our reader tried to reason with the MP, again accepting that there are people who ride bikes dangerously (just as there are "many dangerous drivers" and "dangerous pedestrians stepping out into the path of cyclists without looking"), but making the point that the statistics just do not point to cyclists being a major cause of road danger.

"I really do implore you to try cycling around your constituency," our reader told Davies. "Only then can you understand the implications of anti-cyclist infrastructure and culture. I have been assaulted, deliberately driven into, had things thrown from vehicles, all for the 'crime' of being a cyclist. Only then will you understand the (relatively small) dangers posed by pedestrians, and the massive danger posed by drivers of vehicles, and anti-cyclist culture."

Davies replied: "I am afraid that we are not going to agree about this, and based on the Q&A sessions I have with constituents, I am afraid it would seem the majority of my constituents don't agree with you either."

Speaking to us about the email exchange, our reader concluded: "I think he has just got massive prejudice against cyclists, that he won't engage with what cyclists are saying, he won't engage with the argument and the facts. It's really odd for him, because he's very keen on civil liberties and small states but he really wants to bring in this kind of state overreach into the area of cycling.

"It doesn't fit with his world view: light-touch small states, less regulation, people should be free from government interference, and then he wants to micromanage cyclists, it seems a bit contradictory for him. It was frankly an angry rant and it's not 'let's agree to disagree', I think it was just raw prejudice." 

We contacted Davies, giving him the opportunity to explain his views on cycling further, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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20 comments

Avatar
eburtthebike | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Not tories.

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i-am-furious | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

I wont forget to celebrate on the 5th of July when the Labour candidate for Shipley knocks this idiot out of parliament. What makes it all the more sweeter is the candidates statements supporting Vision Zero.

Get stuffed Philip

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Fursty Ferret | 2 weeks ago
4 likes

I think this is less a case of Philip Davies hating all cyclists, and more the fact that he's too frightened to ride on his local roads but can't admit it in public  

There's also the possibility that he can't ride a bike at all - something he no doubt finds embarrassing - which would explain the slightly hysterical replies and victim blaming. 

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The Industrial ... | 2 weeks ago
12 likes

Invite him to stand at Fox Corner, the busy light controlled junction outside his own Con Club in Shipley.

He can watch the clustefxxk that is Bradford driving.

Number plates and insurance don't seem to be impacting much on the free for all that counts as driving in the city.

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fincon1 replied to The Industrial Biscuit | 2 weeks ago
1 like

I used to cycle through Fox Corner daily when I lived nearby. I would see motorists jump red lights there at least two or three times a week. And you are spot on about Bradford drivers. I am much happier, and safer, in Devon!

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wtjs replied to fincon1 | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Recounting RLJ tales doesn't really count without a video - then, note can be taken of the forces who are decidedly averse to indisputable video evidence of motorist serious offences, and choose to ignore them with or, like here, without making up stupid excuses. Those are the verified dodgy forces!

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CyclingGardener | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

Extraordinary level of rudeness to one of his constituents who seems to want to debate courteously. You'd think if nothing else self-interest would dictate reasonable politeness.
I guess he knows he's on the way out - or maybe assumes (probably correctly!) that not many cyclists will be voting Tory this time round, so no point pretending.

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Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
17 likes

Sir Philip Davies wrote:

"Perhaps you will come down to London sometime and stand by the pedestrian crossing outside the House of Commons and count the number of cyclists who drive through a red light. I can tell you now that it will be easier to count the number who stop for a red light."

This one, Phil? I ride through and around Parliament Square hundreds of times a year, yes there are the usual cockwombles who run the lights, I would say maybe 5%-10% of riders, fewer at rush-hour when the pressure of traffic makes it harder to do. There most certainly aren't more who do than don't, you're simply lying. I see that your seat in Shipley is predicted as a 93% certain Labour win, enjoy your last few weeks on the gravy train!

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mattw | 2 weeks ago
9 likes

Checking up on the IDS speech on his Causing Death by Dangerous Cycling clause, he mentions a litany of cases where to my eye half had the cyclist at no fault.

I had a look at the shit IDS has been shovelling.

So weak is his case that he felt the need to mislead the House of Commons:

IDS: In July 2020, Peter McCombie, 72, was killed by cyclist Ermir Loka, who had jumped a red light.
(Loka: did not stop, they found him, prison 2 years)
https://news.sky.com/story/cyclist-ermir-loka-who-jumped-red-light-and-k...

IDS: In June 2022, Stewart McGinn, 29, was jailed for a year after he sped on his bike around a corner on the pavement in Monmouth, south Wales, hitting Jane Stone, 79, who died four days later.
(McGinn, did not stop, turned himself in, prison 1 year)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-62153644

IDS: Regents Park Case. In June 2022, Hilda Griffiths—this is a very important case—who was aged 81, was run over by a cyclist, who was racing along at 29 mph in a 20 mph zone on a high-performance racing bike. She subsequently died.
"The case was unable to proceed because the speed limit does not apply to cyclists. "
(Coroner's verdict ACCIDENT, with no unlawful acts, IDS misleading Parliament. It did not proceed because the cyclist did not cause the collision by any unlawful act; the claim that it did not proceed becasue of cyclists not being subject to speed limits is a lie. The pedestrian stepped out directly into traffic.)
https://road.cc/content/news/no-charges-cyclist-after-crash-which-oap-wa...

IDS: "In 2016, Diana Walker, 76, died when a cyclist hit her in Pewsey, Wiltshire. "
(Police found that 'no crime had been committed'. The pedestrian stepped out directly into traffic without looking in all accounts I have seen.)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-41047810

 In June 2020, Ian Gunn, 56, died in south Manchester yet the cyclist was cleared of wanton and furious driving.
(Cyclist, Cornelius De Bruin, was found not guilty by a jury.  The police could have charged him with Careless Cycling, but did to feel it would likely succeed, which is the criteria.)

Link to speech:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2024-05-15/debates/70FB3786-C2A3-4...

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mattw | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

I wonder three things.

1 - The small state point is interesting; I have not tried arguing that one. But then this administration in 2014 brought in the changes to PSPOs which makes them able to be done with little or no evidence, in little or no time, with a mere 6 weeks' consultation and severe restrictions on reasons for objection.

2 - Perhaps it is time we started editing sober, cited and evidenced to the contrary, accounts of view on cycling into politicians' Wikipedia pages. If he is defending his opinions, he is presumably proud of them.

3 - Davies is down as a likely loss in the General Election. Labour Target no 59, and Cons are expected to lose 200+ seats.

In that sense he is probably a Sunk cost, like Rishi Sunk. But he may have a decent Captain Mainwaring vote.

I wonder if there is humourous merit in compiling a list of anti-cycling fopdoodles who are for the chop. Then we can have a Bingo Card for July 4th.

On the list already are Theresa Villiers, Mark Harper, Iain Duncan-Smith, Philip Davies and several others.
 

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hawkinspeter | 2 weeks ago
11 likes

He's being disingenuous (obviously - he's Tory) and the real reason that he wants registration etc for cyclists is to put a barrier in the way of getting people onto bikes and starting to cycle.

Tories - they want people sick and dying, not healthy and happy.

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eburtthebike | 2 weeks ago
15 likes

Never argue with stupid people tory MPs: they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience, Mark Twain.

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Zazz53 | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I detest this rabble rousing populist rhetoric.  
However,  living, riding and working in London for the last 30 years, I would say the increase in people on hire bikes (esp the elec assist ones) is definitely causing issues.  I would estimate I have to avoid cyclists whilst crossing on a green man at least 3 times a week.  Nothing to do with risk management on their part , just rudeness and a disregard of the rules of the road.  
 

 

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Argos74 | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Davies

I just used language that would see me excommunicated from just about every organised religion in this arm of the galaxy. His views on cycling might be amongst the more anodyne and less offensive of his smorgasbord of douchebaggery.

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Eton Rifle | 2 weeks ago
19 likes

Look, I know that we have more than enough evidence that Tory MPs are mostly fuckwits but is anyone else surprised at the puerile language from this specimen?

"I bet you think all cyclists are saints" WTF? And a complete failure to even debate or discuss. Isn't that pretty much the most important quality for an MP?

Just how the actual fuck did we end up with these morons running the country?

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TwoHeadsTalking replied to Eton Rifle | 2 weeks ago
13 likes

Certainly, most educated people would be able to construct a far more articulate justification of their political stance. 🙄 And then to be flippant in the response just seems impatient, condescending and petty.

However, Sir Phil has probably been reassured of his superiority through education and honours, and feels he shouldn't be questioned, as he knows best.

These lot have likely been groomed from an early age, and achieved their positions through a combination of nepotism and connections, similarly to any organised crime. (Not saying they are criminals who are selling the country for personal gain, I would never suppose to know anything about that..... water, post office, blood, ppe, personal donations, board membership, undeclared interests, the list goes on)

Edit: I forgot about the NHS whistle-blower cover ups, that's a real doozy, and I have personal experience with NHS speak-up, nothing good to say there.

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marmotte27 replied to TwoHeadsTalking | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

"These lot have likely been groomed from an early age, and achieved their positions through a combination of nepotism and connections, similarly to any organised crime."

The section on his education from his Wikipedia article linked to above suggests that this is an individual who did not arrive at his despicable views on just about anything through any particularly privileged education.

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TwoHeadsTalking replied to marmotte27 | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Don't think I mentioned education, Wiki article also has link to his father's page.

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TwoHeadsTalking | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

Interesting to see that the representation of Yorkshire constituents is based on MPs personal experiences from crossing the road in Westminster.

I don't condone running red lights, but perhaps this is seen as a "risk-reduction" method, as the longer you are cycling in London, the higher the chance of being a victim of armed robbery or hit-and-run.

The above is also a perfect example of the flawed logic of using licence plates to control crime. Armed robberies are often carried out with the use of motor vehicles, which require licence plates. This does not seem to be an issue for criminals, licence plates are only useful for issuing minor penalties to typical road users.

Fake/cloned plates, no plates and camera blocking tape are common practice with criminal and reckless road users, so why would this be any different for cyclists?
If he's so concerned about cyclists jumping red lights in London, why not just get some bobbies to stop them and issue tickets? This would surely be simpler than a nationwide requirement for licence plates, affecting thousands of responsible road users, with the costs borne by the tax payers. 🙄

Perhaps Sir Phil is also annoyed by watching cyclists cruise by while he's stuck in the interminable London traffic?

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Mr Hoopdriver | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

"It doesn't fit with his world view: light-touch small states, less regulation, people should be free from government interference, and then he wants to micromanage cyclists, it seems a bit contradictory for him."

Cyclists are sub human & therefore not people according to the polls that have been conducted recently so it probably isn't contradictory for him.

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