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Philip Hammond
riot girl
Dear Philip Hammond,

Congratulations on becoming the new Transport Secretary.  And excuse me, while I take out a black handkerchief and blow my nose during a short mourning period for your predecessor, Lord Adonis.  

I see you're ending the imaginary war on motorists.  I don't know if you've seen this week's Private Eye, but it points out that the Labour government bent over backwards to appease the road lobby, scrapping the 'fuel price escalator' and dropping the overall real cost of motoring by 14%.  It insisted that speed cameras be conspicuous, thereby tacitly condoning speeding elsewhere.  It scrapped tram schemes, ruled out pay-as-you-drive schemes, opposed London's congestion charge and weaselled down the Road Traffic Reduction Act to a white paper flag, flapping surrender in the breeze of outrage from the motoring lobby.  It counted time savings for motorists as worth more per minute than that for cyclists or bus passengers, thereby weighting the balance in favour of road widening or building rather than improvements to public transport or cycling facilities. 

Now that's a funny sort of war. 

But never mind all that.  Perhaps you were just appeasing popular opinion.  There are, after all, those in the media who regard law enforcement as a personal affront when it happens to the middle classes in their cars, whilst simultaneously crying for harsher and harsher penalties for the rabble who break the law in public spaces. 

No, what I was interested in was this comment:

“Cyclists need to be more aware of the risks around them. It frightens me to death when I see them pull out around other cyclists, completely unaware there is a car behind. Maybe they need wing mirrors.”

I love that you can make these sweeping judgements right after you told a journalist that you've never, in fact, cycled in London at all.  If you had, you'd know that turning your head gives you a better view than a mirror.

You're not the first government official to make comments about cycle commuting when you've not got the first idea what you might be talking about.  I wrote a very polite letter to David Curry on the same subject last year, although I'll admit I did call him a cockwomble when I first read his bilious froth. 

But for you, Hammond, I'm not writing so politely.  And that's because you admit that you're scared to ride a bike in London whilst simultaneously condemning cyclists as unaware of risks.  You - get this - are telling me that I need safety equipment such as wing mirrors while completely ignoring what really makes cycling anything other than 100% safe, which is, of course, idiots.  Idiots, as I said in my letter to David Curry, are just idiots on their bikes but they're dangerous idiots in their cars. 

Do you know the sort of idiot I mean?  Not yet?  Let me try an example:  the sort of idiot who might break the speed limit in his Jag and then brag about it in the media

If you can't keep the rules of the road, matey, don't even think about telling me how to make myself safer.  I'm very safe on the road myself.  It's selfish pissweasels speeding along, thumb up bum and mind in neutral, who might take me out.  Don't you fucking dare lecture me that cycling is dangerous when it's people like you who make it so.

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Well, how very dare we overtake slower cyclists. It had never occurred to me that there might be cars around. On a road? Don't be so ridiculous!


Why do people who can't/won't cycle feel like they're the world authority on cycling? Makes me cross.


You haven't highlighted this one in green. You are going to actually send it, aren't you?


Good work, and imaginative use of language. Well done.



Very nice crescendo!

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