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Two days of stalking Ed Miliband's partner gets Daily Mail a tour of London road "insanity"

Justine Thornton taking sensible shortcuts shock horror probe

A Daily Mail story pillorying Justine Thornton, wife of Labour leader Ed Miliband, for breaking traffic laws on her bike, actually demonstrates the "insanity" of London's roads, says a leading cycling advocate.

The Mail accuses Ms Thornton of running a red light, ignoring a 'No right turn sign' and a 'No entry' sign, riding the wrong way up a one-way street and riding on the pavement.

Some might say that all those and more are mitigated by the fact that she was being followed by a Daily Mail photographer who stalked her for two days to collect the images that illustrate the story.

But cycling advocates including GB Cycling Embassy chair Mark Treasure say Ms Thornton's route between work and home uses segments that campaign bodies and councils have intended for years to make into cycling shortcuts.

Treasure tweeted:

The simple solution here would be a protected contraflow cycling lane — there's plenty of precedent in Cambridge among other places for contraflow bike lanes — allowing riders like Ms Thornton to avoid the multi-lane one-way traffic of the Strand gyratory.

Alex Ingram of hfcyclists, the Hammersmith & Fulham branch of the London Cycling Campaign, picked up on the shot of Ms Thornton riding between a pair of 'No entry' signs at the end of Dartmouth Park Road.

Here it is on Google Streetview:

And here's the same short stretch of cobbles from the other direction:

There's no reason these 'No entry' signs couldn't have 'Cycles excepted' exemption signs, though it would mean less fun for those who enjoy seeing the Mail get its knickers in a knot over nothing.

A Labour spokesman told the Mail: "Justine believes it is very important that everyone obeys the Highway Code and she will be more careful on her bike in future."

It's a pity the Labour Party didn't take the opportunity to say it would encourage London borough councils — often blockers of high-quality cycling provision — to execute some of the simple ways to make cycling faster and safer that they've known about for years.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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