26 May 2009

The Boris lorry story

The story of Boris Johnson's group cycling trip nearly being mass-murdered by a lorry grew over the weekend from internet gossip, to a Guardian politics story complete with video, to a BBC Sunday evening main news item, in between Susan Boyle getting promoted and Newcastle getting relegated.

I've little to add to what others have said. After being nearly crushed twice yesterday evening on the way home, once by a French lorry and once by a bendy bus, I'm not in the mood. And it particularly irritated me that not until I got home did I remember the French for 'Oy, *****! **** back to Clermont-Ferrand and **** your **** with a *****'.

Still, at least the French guy spoke reasonable English, which is more than could be said for the bus driver.

Freewheeler's blog has a worthwhile summary of the Boris incident and reactions. It doesn't allow comments, so I've responded to him below.


  1. Freewheeler - I know it's a bit bonkers commenting on my own blog when I should be commenting on yours, but I'm not sure how else to do it.

    First, I think you're wrong to complain about energy being 'frittered away' by campaigns for cycle parking and potholes. These things don't fix themselves, and they do make a real, practical difference. Ask anyone who now cycles to Morley College, where a long campaign eventually resulted in a clutch of stands outside the entrance. I know it's dull writing letters and going to meetings, I know it's more fun to put up angry pictures of discarded kebabs smeared across a footway, or piles of rubbish blocking a cycle lane, because I do it myself too. But it doesn't help anyone to belittle the efforts of people who actually succeed in making things better. We all want to save the world, but sometimes you have to do it one bike stand at a time.

    Second, I think you're right to suggest more direct (but, of course, peaceful and law-abiding) action. There is a lot of anger and it does indeed need channeling. Why aren't there any flashmob cycle protests, outside a courtroom perhaps as you suggest? Well, because it takes effort and electronic-networking savvy and contacts and the willingness to put a head above the parapet. But so does writing a blog.

    Movements often start with a meeting in a pub somewhere, just a handful of angry but focused people. And the rather obvious Met officer detailed to monitor them watching from a corner table with an untouched J2O. You know where to get hold of me...

  2. I think a court protest is an excellent idea. How would one find out when the case was going to be on? From there, twitter or facebook or the like could be used to organise the flash. Just having even a dozen cyclists standing silently outside with their bikes would be pretty effective (shouting and getting angry probably less so). Of course, it's easy for me to say as I've escaped the mean streets, but there are plenty of nutters up here in Scotland too...

  3. I'm warming to this idea. If done properly it could generate good PR, not piss off road users, and make a point firmly and fairly.

    Let's all keep an eye out for the next potential bonkers judge ruling that the cyclist mown down by a tipper truck was just asking for it because they weren't wearing armour. Internet gossip does seem to percolate through that such things are about to happen shortly before they do.

  4. Yeah but - there's no point protesting until the verdict is handed down - at which point it's all over really.
    Are you serious about the plod and the J2O? Ohmigod, are they reading this blog too?!

  5. But isn't there usually a day or two between the bonkers verdict (yes, the driver killed the cyclist, but it was the cyclist's fault for not wearing any Masonic gear) and the ludicrous slap-on-wrist sentencing? Enough to organise something eye-catching.

  6. (And btw Freewheeler, comment above wasn't meant to be coloured red... and certainly not an attack! I'm just trying to stick up for those who battle for small victories. Bike advocacy needs everything: from the furious polemic right across to the gentle nagging of the corner shop to install a bike stand. It needs the whole range of blogs, too.)

  7. (Freewheeler, just saw your response... thanks, and I appreciate the time and effort you've taken to reply. Though I wouldn't describe myself as a pothole reporter or bike-stand campaigner!)

  8. Does anybody know if this truck driver is off the hook?

  9. I wish Freewheeler would enable comments. As a Waltham Forest resident and cyclist, there's much I'd have liked to say.

  10. Ditto.

    I saw the aftermath (as the first police officer arrived) of the incident in Charterhouse Street that Freewheeler reports today.

    On the map Freewheeler uses, the body of the cyclist was laying motionless in the middle of the road where the "RT" of "CHARTERHOUSE" is below "B500". So I struggle to see how it was the result of a truck jumping a traffic light (as said in the Spanish article), or turning left as Freewheeler suggests.

    Ely Place is a gated private road by the way. There was a City of London dustcart being parked up further down Charterhoue.

  11. Further to my previous post: