Best of Times, worst of Times: Safety campaign gets silly
The Times’s campaign for safer cycling got rather silly on its third day.
Finger-wagging articles appeared telling us cycling is so incredibly dangerous, we need to take “body armour and helmets... Lycra and face masks”.
A helpful graphic (top right) detailed what we must buy if we are to avoid a slow, painful death under the wheels of a blameless heavy goods vehicle: £160 helmet, £170 leggings, £100 top, £27 gloves, £26 overshoes, £125 backpack – a total cost of over £600.
The Real Cyclist’s response to this is: tosh, balderdash, tummy-rubbish. We reject your London-salary, aggressive-urban-professional nonsense.
I cycle round York in my normal clothes (total cost £30 from Peacock’s). Backpacks are rubbish for everyday cycling; you want panniers. And the helmet, frankly, will make far less difference to your survival chances than cycling assertively and safely.
We should also, the paper instructs us, avoid all roads and only stick to cycle tracks.
Er, right. Ones like this (right), near the Oval.
Don't be silly; most of them are full of broken glass, go the wrong way, and stop to let traffic past every two minutes; see this and other blogs passim.
Times hacks, why don’t you ask someone who actually knows, such as me? Except I’m not very good and will probably be off cycling somewhere anyway. So better, someone like Carlton Reid (who has contributed some lucid comments on the paper's campaign).
In other Times foolishness, rower James Cracknell wrote a piece full of opinion and devoid of any supporting evidence, saying those who do not wear helmets are being ‘selfish to your family and friends’.
That’ll be the entire population of the Netherlands and Denmark, then.
Here’s an idea: I don’t know anything about rowing, so maybe the Times could do an interview piece with me on what you must do to win Olympic medals.