Monday, 4 August 2014

Gemma Doyle MP doesn't believe in #Space4Cycling

On Sunday night the curtain came down on the 20th Commonwealth Games.  For twelve days athletes from 71 different nations and territories came together in Glasgow and, despite my best efforts to remain typically aloof, it was great.  Sure there were a few bumps along the way, but they were met with a typically Glaswegian blend of humour and compassion.  We chuckled when Sri Lanka's cycling team was pulled over by the police on the M74.  We applauded when Billy Bilsland loaned the Malawi team new bikes to race on when their own were damaged.  We threw open the doors of our city and we loved it.

Well, most of us loved it anyway.  For Gemma Doyle, Member of Parliament for West Dunbartonshire, there were some parts of the Games that she just couldn't stomach... in particular, the cyclists.

There are many, many things that could be said about this tweet...

I could point out that complaining about a team preparing for an event - as it happens, the Men's Individual Time Trial the following day - isn't exactly in keeping with the spirit of 'The Friendly Games'.

I could tell you that the cyclist Gemma Doyle 'spotted' was actually Luke Rowe who, the following day, finished the 40km TT route in 52 minutes.  That's an average speed of 29mph.  Average. If she think's that's slow, she should come and see me on my commute to work in the morning.  It would make her cry.

If I had the time I could speak at length about the fact that cyclists are entitled to use the road just as much as Gemma Doyle is in her car and that if she is driving too fast to react safely to other traffic on the road then she is driving too fast.  Frankly though, that argument has already been made (and won) in the many replies to her original post.

What I do want to talk about though, what I think needs to be explored, is the pains she went to to clarify that she didn't have a problem with the cyclist on the road, only with the car following behind.

Just think about what she's saying here.  A car travelling 'slowly' along the A82 is dangerous because faster cars approaching from behind might not be able to react in time to avoid a collision.  However, a cyclist travelling on the same road at exactly the same speed is fine.  How can both of those statements be true?  Surely they can't?

Well, they can... but only if those same cars which are unable to pull out around the slow-moving car don't bother trying to pull out around the slow-moving bicycle.  Or, to put it another way, if the car weren't there to force Gemma Doyle to overtake using the other lane she wouldn't have bothered pulling out at all to overtake the cyclist but, instead, would just have squeezed by in the same lane at 70mph.

Whether we're talking about a professional cyclist who has just ridden Le Tour or a casual cyclist on their way to work, that is an absolutely atrocious attitude to take.  To be so dismissive of another person's safety and wellbeing, to show so little regard for human life, must surely call into question whether that person is fit to hold a driving license, let alone fit to hold public office.

I could go on (and on) but I think I'll leave the last word to Luke Rowe himself who, with this exclamation point, managed to convey the contempt felt by cyclists across the land...

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