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Spectator journalist replies to "ridiculous" Jeremy Vine call for driver ban on overtaking cyclists in cities

Vine was quoted in the Sunday papers saying he wants "cars to pull over if they see me behind them because they know I'm faster" and suggested a ban on overtaking cyclists in major urban areas...

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".

> Jeremy Vine calls for drivers to be banned from overtaking cyclists in 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.

Jeremy Vine films bin lorry driver heading wrong way down Camden cycle lane (Jeremy Vine, Twitter)

"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".

Highway Code (Department for Transport)

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.

> Jeremy Vine tells cyclists to "cycle in anything you like" — wants media portrayal of cyclists to move away from Lycra and race bikes

"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.

jeremy vine on penny farthing may 2020 - via twitter.PNG

"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.

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26 comments

Avatar
Beryl | 5 months ago
6 likes

Yesterday I experienced a good example of a driver who should not overtake. After a junction a van driver passed me far too close for comfort, at a pinch point which meant I had to slow down or be squashed. I then got stuck behind the van as it went over the series of speed cushions on the next stretch of road. Sitting in the bike box at the next junction I was so worried the driver would do it again.... It quickly filled with other cyclists which I found reassuring, safety in numbers! I managed to stay ahead (taking a more assertive road position) until I made it to the safety of an LTN. It really seems drivers do not realise they are slower than cyclists on inner city streets, and overtaking is a pointlessly dangerous maneuver. I really love where road works have closed the cycle lane and they have DO NOT OVERTAKE CYCLISTS signs out. But really it should be everywhere in the city that drivers do not overtake.

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eburtthebike | 6 months ago
11 likes

I had no idea the Spectator employed journalists.

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grOg replied to eburtthebike | 6 months ago
2 likes

oh the mirth.. my sides, they split.

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perce replied to grOg | 5 months ago
7 likes

I saw the Mirth many years ago at the Highcliffe folk club in Sheffield on the same bill as the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra. A very enjoyable night.

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essexian replied to perce | 5 months ago
6 likes

Ah, Mirth (not to be confused with "Seas of Mirth" of course) were indeed most excellent live. Its a shame they didn't tour more. 

Sadly, there isn't much of their stuff avaialble anymore but I found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMXLIUVJtVY&t=95s

Ah...takes me back to my teen years of long hair and cider drinking. 

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chrisonabike replied to essexian | 5 months ago
4 likes

Oh, that takes me back too! A double-bill of Splitting Sides (appropriately enough) and Mirth. I think it was them. The night pungent with excitement, the fug of roll-ups and sweat, spilt cider. And vomit. IIRC that was Nottingham's Rock City. Or was it the Cockpit in Leeds? Or Sugarcubes in Lincoln? Those were the days!

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perce replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
3 likes

And Nottingham boat club. Saw a few great bands there - Stackridge, Patto etc. Great bands that deserved more success.

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perce replied to essexian | 5 months ago
2 likes

Thanks for the link, much appreciated. 

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Cugel replied to grOg | 5 months ago
1 like
grOg wrote:

oh the mirth.. my sides, they split.

Sides - plural ..... ? Shirly sum mashtake.

As I parse your cheeps, I notice there is a right side (aka the wrong side) but no others. This is what has reduced your opinions to being not just bald but one-dimensional! Mind, this at least forms a point, although its so small no one can see it.  1

 

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Rendel Harris replied to grOg | 5 months ago
6 likes
grOg wrote:

oh the mirth.. my sides, they split.

My Sides have split? Dreadful news, I'd specially put money away to see them on their next tour. I know their brand of prog-influenced jazz fusion-based bluegrass wasn't for everybody but they had their place amongst the cognoscenti.

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perce replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
2 likes

Terrible news. I heard it was because the mandolin player played Coltrane's Giant Steps and the rest of the band couldn't keep up so they kicked him out. Apparently he's already formed another band called Aching Ribs.

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mark1a replied to perce | 5 months ago
3 likes

You're right about the Giant Steps controversy , but I have to correct you on a small detail - it was the pan pipes player that formed Aching Ribs, and the mandolinist joined the swing jazz outfit Buster Gut and the Knee-Slappers. 

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mitsky | 6 months ago
7 likes

I don't know if I'm the first to consider it but maybe Jeremy Vine is putting his tongue in his cheek, metaphorically?

By suggesting that drivers pull over for cyclists (when they are in slower moving traffic areas like central London) maybe JV is trying to show how ridiculous the argument is that some drivers want cyclists to move out of the way when they (drivers) incorrectly believe they are faster?

Case in point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7enDsD5bpc&pp=ygUIc2EwNSBvemM%3D

Presumably we should all be sensible when cycling/driving and just do both with everyone's safety in mind (when moving through slow traffic) rather than just trying to get everywhere as fast as possible?

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IanGlasgow replied to mitsky | 6 months ago
8 likes

I'd like to think Jake understood that when he wrote "not theirs to pull over meekly to the side of the road as if Judge Dredd was looming in their mirrors."

But we all know he didn't. He genuinely wants cyclists to pull meekly to the side to make way for cars, but not vice versa.

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mattw replied to mitsky | 5 months ago
1 like

Ten years ago Jake was writing positive pieces about cycling.

I think he knows he is in the Spectator and the gammons need their boots licking.

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BigDoodyBoy | 6 months ago
2 likes

So, what is the average car speed in cities other than London? In central London, I don't think it's a stupid idea to ban overtaking cyclists. They do, probably go faster overall. For other places, I'm not sure it would be appropriate though.

By saying that cars should get out of his way, I'm afraid Mr. Vine clearly shows he's only interested in policies that would benefit him in his small part of the world. If he considered the wider implications before shouting his mouth off, he might get a better response. Or maybe he doesn't care? As long as he's front and central in the headlines, that's mission accomplished for Brand Vine!

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lonpfrb | 6 months ago
0 likes

.

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marmotte27 | 6 months ago
8 likes

"[as] a cyclist myself"

Disqualified.

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chrisonabike | 6 months ago
10 likes

Boo / Nigel / Rakia / KYA Jake Wallis Simons wrote:

I'm a cyclist myself and even I can see this.

Bingo!  Even a child can see this!

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peted76 | 6 months ago
8 likes

I'm enjoying this newspaper type banter.. it's all part of the larger conversation which is what we need to continue to happen ...  Vine is probably reaching a bit far here I feel, but as the saying goes shoot for the stars and reach the moon... (or something like that anyway..)

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lonpfrb replied to peted76 | 6 months ago
3 likes
peted76 wrote:

I'm enjoying this newspaper type banter.. it's all part of the larger conversation which is what we need to continue to happen ... 

For #VisionZero to become reality there must be a change in behavior to take responsibility for the safety of all road users. The limited budget for highlighting Highway Code change shows that government hasn’t the means to engage the news media and social media to get the message across. The toxic attitudes present in mainstream media, and failure to implement Reporting Best Practice Guidelines show that regulation is required to change attitudes.

“The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad” so they are responsible for regulating the Media on Digital/Culture/Sport matters.

While they do not achieve that, e.g. banning hate speech against cyclists, there is no prospect that Active Travel will become the new normal. Department of Transport will not deliver Active Travel alone so must work across government.

It’s time for that media regulation objective to be campaigned…
@CyclingUK @LCC

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HarrogateSpa replied to lonpfrb | 6 months ago
4 likes

There are almost certainly toxic attitudes present in 10 Downing St.

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kinderje replied to peted76 | 6 months ago
6 likes
peted76 wrote:

I but as the saying goes shoot for the stars and reach the moon... (or something like that anyway..)

It was Reach for the Stars - an 'S Club' classic 

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HarrogateSpa replied to kinderje | 6 months ago
8 likes

Don't Stop Moving (unless it's to pull over for a cyclist).

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Car Delenda Est | 6 months ago
8 likes

Any bets to how long it'll be before he's writing an article on how 'as a cyclist' he think cyclists should "pull over meekly to the side of the road as if Judge Dredd was looming in their mirrors" whenever a car is behind them?

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Cugel replied to Car Delenda Est | 6 months ago
6 likes
Car Delenda Est wrote:

Any bets to how long it'll be before he's writing an article on how 'as a cyclist' he think cyclists should "pull over meekly to the side of the road as if Judge Dredd was looming in their mirrors" whenever a car is behind them?

Mind, for some locations this is the case. Self-appointed dreadful judges peering from their red little eyes, foot hard on the go-pedal, are quite keen to be polis, judge, jury and executioner, all within a second or two as they apply not a just a punishment pass but the full maiming or murder of the evil cyclist in their way.

Happily, many locations about these septic isles are as yet unsullied by full carloonery. Islands of civilisation remain, in which loons are generally frowned at and regarded as a shameful mode of being human albeit familair enough from several past-historical versions.

But loonery of every sort is metastasizing in Blighted, speading like a plague via anti-social media, gutter press and Toryspiv engines spewing intolerance-gas along with the other massive pollutions they seem to enjoy foisting upon us all. (I believe that they all have shares in,  & bungs from, Polluters-R-Us).

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