Top Trolling from Rod LIddle in the Spectator.

Off yer bikes! Cyclists are a menace to society — and self-righteous to boot 

You are just pedalling, you plastic-hatted ninnies, not saving the bloody planet 

 Rather than the invisible cyclist, who’s American, perhaps fat, out-of-shape, double-chinned Labour party member, Rod Liddle could have started his Spectator rant with an article about why stupid, working class, labour-voting ignorant chavs cannot control themselves around cyclists, written by someone who lives in the UK and who knows what they’re talking about. Like this one, by me. Instead he finds a pretty harmless piece of hyperbole from a San-Fransico Blogger to start with.

‘Such anti-cyclist anger reminds me in many ways of the feelings about gypsies that I would hear expressed when I lived in central Europe. In Hungary, people would tell me they disliked gypsies because they were lazy and dishonest. The truth was that gypsies — like, I would suggest, cyclists — were unpopular principally for being different.

So he starts with a cyclist complaining that others treat them (us) as an outgroup. Liddle Then moves on to a classic piece of trolling – nice and controversial treating cyclists as an outgroup:

Like many people, I am worried that too few cyclists are being killed on our roads each year.

Q.E.D. Can you imagine being able to write that in the Spectator about any other group of people? Premiership footballers perhaps.

While the number of cycling journeys undertaken in the UK has risen enormously since 2006, and exponentially since the exciting, hirsute Sir Bradley Wiggins won a bicycle race in France in 2012, the official statistics show only a moderate rise in fatalities.

The first error of fact. Wiggins’ win in the Tour De France came long after the number of cyclists started to rise.

This suggests to me that car drivers have become more accommodating in their behaviour towards these people and have lost their radical anti-cycling zeal.

This is a good thing. No-one is bothered by black neighbours any more either. The only people who still hate cyclists are stupid, ignorant, working class, labour-voters mostly in white vans, who hate anyone different. Hate. It’s a bad thing, Rod.

They have been bullied out of it, one suspects, by official propaganda that insists that knocking cyclists over, deliberately or otherwise, is somehow ‘antisocial’, and by the effusions of lionised celebrity cyclists like Wiggins, and that also ennobled Scottish man who cycles round and round a track very quickly indeed, like a sort of thin-lipped ginger hamster with outsized calf muscles.


Wiggins and the Scottish man are both militant campaigners against the killing of cyclists, and they are also in favour of more cycle lanes (which cyclists like to see built, but never use)…

To understand why few cyclists use the laughable provisions in the UK, see the excellent Warrington cycle campaign’s facility of the month.

…and further speed restrictions on the people who actually pay for the roads (car drivers), but the government is on board too.

Of course car-drivers don’t “pay for the roads”. Most cyclists also own a car, and indeed are more likely to do so than the average member of the public. Cyclists are drawn from two populations: those too poor to own a car, but these are now outnumbered by affluent people for whom cycling is an enjoyable way to get to work. Of course Rod Liddle, being a member of the Labour party, is not concerned with tiresome research, or so-called “facts”.

My concern is that if killing cyclists is no longer allowable in a free country, then it is the thin end of the wedge and it may be that down the line cycling will become an ‘acceptable’ pursuit for normal people. We have seen this happen before with homosexuals, single mothers and some foreigners; one moment we are enjoined not to victimise them, the next they are clamouring for equality. Somewhere, surely, we have to draw the line.

OK he’s trolling. Good work.

Well, ok, I jest, in predictably bad taste. And you were probably aware that I was joking, unless you are a committed cyclist who is determined to be outraged. By ‘committed’ I do not mean that you are the recipient of state protection in a secure asylum….

Thanks for admitting you’re joking. But what… there’s more to this article?

…but rather that you are one of those people with an expensive bicycle, a lot of Lycra, a pompous little pointy plastic hat, hilarious goggles, a fatuous water bottle and the fervent conviction that you are a Victim as a consequence of your Vulnerability. And that in being a Victim as a consequence of being Vulnerable you are somehow empowered to take it out on everybody else you see on the public highways, especially car drivers and pedestrians.

Oh, so having said you’re joking, you then start with the SERIOUS BIT? About how we’re all so insufferable for not wanting to get crushed by a fucking truck? Or for expecting drivers to respect our safety? Is that what you’re saying Rod?

There is nothing quite like considering yourself a Victim to bolster the self-esteem, nothing like resentment to make the hours go by a little quicker. Not all cyclists fall into this category of course, far from it. But plenty do. Dare to disparage the cycling fraternity and all hell will break loose; when you are a certified Victim all sense of proportion — and humour — departs.

Well forgive me for not wanting to be crushed by a truck.

I discovered this when I mentioned in a blog recently that I was not sure why I had to pay, through my taxes, for my friend to have a new bicycle — there’s a government scheme on offer which effectively gives you a bike on tick, interest-free.

No there isn’t, Rod. There’s a scheme which lets some people (but not soldiers or the self-employed) to buy a bicycle out of pre-tax income via their employers. It saves at most £400.

Ooh, the fury. But it was nothing compared to the opprobrium heaped upon the head of my colleague Matthew Parris who jokingly suggested that life in his village would be improved by piano wire strung across the roads to decapitate the hugely annoying cyclists.

But this has actually happened. And so some of us don’t think it funny.

Cyclists — or some of them, a lot of them — have become, these last few years, full of themselves, puffed-up with righteous anger. Part of this has been encouraged by the success of Wiggins and the Scottish hamster-man. But part of it too is because these people don’t think they’re simply pedalling from High Holborn to Paddington; they think they’re saving the bloody planet.

This is a charge often levelled, but it’s a straw man. Most people cycling from High Holborn to Paddington (a route containing some of the best infrastructure in London, incidentally) will do so because it’s cheap, healthy, fun, sociable and pleasant way to travel. Few cyclists think they’re “saving the planet”. And if some do, so what?

And they think that the rest of us are destroying it. As the anonymous blogger put it in that quote at the top of the page, they think that they are different.

No we don’t think we’re different, the blogger you quote doesn’t think cyclists are different. But you clearly think we are different, don’t you Rod? You’re projecting your own prejudices.

No — you’re not. You just can’t afford a car or are deluded about the impact cycling a few miles makes to the environment. And you can’t be bothered to walk.

Interesting how Labour members think they’re allowed to sneer at the poor. Of course even Jeremy Clarkson admits a city without cars littering the place is simply a nicer place to be. Cars do ruin the environment. It’s not just about Carbon. It’s why we pedestrianise streets. Because cars scare people away.

Cyclists are another one of those things about which the government and establishment are of one mind and the general public another. There is absolutely no doubt that the behaviour of some cyclists, the militant lot, enrages both pedestrians and car users — i.e. the vast majority of the British public.

The militant cyclist is unlikely to be the same person as the pavement cyclist, who’s much more likely to be from the tribe openly sneered at by Liddle – too poor to own a car.

I had always thought, when I saw two cyclists riding abreast on a narrowish road, holding up the traffic, that they were unaware of the annoyance they were causing. That maybe they didn’t know there was a car behind, and another 50 cars behind that car.

If it’s not safe to pass two cyclists, it’s not safe to pass one cyclist. There’s no extra delay.

Oh, but they do, they do. Check out the cycling websites and you will learn that they ride two abreast precisely to stop cars overtaking them, because on narrow roads they are convinced that car drivers will cut in too close to them as they pass.

Convinced, because IT HAPPENS.

So they block the entire road and feel good about it, because they are Victims. The law states that they are allowed to ride two abreast

…on any road, not just…

…on a big, wide, straight road, no bends and curves, where there is plenty of opportunity and width for cars to pass by in comfort; but a hefty majority of the posts I saw on several websites revealed very different strategies. Their view is that unless a car has room to pass two cyclists, it shouldn’t be trying to pass one. And with that they wrap themselves in self-righteousness as the queues of traffic tail back further and further.

There is no right for you to get past at will, and no obligation on cyclists to “get out of the way”. That you, a fat, slovenly, Labour voter is so filled with a massive entitlement complex that you think you have a right to get past, just shows how fat, stupid and selfish you are. Your 30 second delay (and it really is just that) is more important to you, than another human being’s safety. Which is just fucking grotesque when you think about it.

Likewise, riding on the pavements and thus maiming pensioners. The law is clear about this, for a change. They should never do it.

And if you go to “cycling websites” you’ll find the “militant cyclists” pretty universal in their condemnation of pavement cyclist, but never let the facts get in the way of a good rant, Rod.

But they do it because they feel safer there, of course.

Most pavement cyclists are poor people trying to get about. They feel threatened on the road. Because you think you have a right to get past.

Listen, you plastic-hatted ninny: if you don’t have the balls to cycle in the road, then ditch the bike.

Most pavement cyclist don’t wear helmets. Unless they’re small children. Who ARE allowed to cycle on the pavement. Facts, Rod. They’re out there if you look….

It is still the case that, mile for mile, pedestrians are far more ‘vulnerable’ than cyclists. Mile for mile, more pedestrians are killed. They — we — are the real victims, even if we do not whine about it continuously.

Yes, Rod, they’re killed by motorists, not cyclists.

And the number of pedestrians maimed by cyclists is also rising by the year, to the extent that legislation has been proposed to ensure that cyclists respect the laws of the land the same as everyone else.

The grotesque exaggeration of the number of pedestrians hurt by cyclists is a tiresome trope of this sort of piece. How many people are hurt by cars, and how many by cyclists, Rod?…Rod?

And of course, there are other irritations and dangers. I get infuriated by the cyclists tearing past me on the rural footpath where I live, scattering dogs and kids like confetti, believing that because they are allowed on the path, they are under no obligation to consider anyone else who might be using it.

This happens occasionally. But equally frequently, the ‘shared use’ path has pedestrians wandering about on the bit set aside for cyclists. Who’s to blame? The council for engineering conflict.

I am thinking of training my dog to attack cyclists who behave like this, catch up with them on the uphill stretch and chew their tyres off. I think I will use, as a signal to the animal to launch its attack, the word ‘Hoy!’

Funny, using the name of the cyclist whom you pretend to not remember. Well done, you fat, Labour-voting twat.

And of course there is the running of red lights, a continual complaint from car users, and the weaving in and out of traffic with an expression of rectitude on their faces.

It had to come. The “red-light” crap. Car drivers too regularly run red lights. At least as frequently as cyclists. It’s just for reasons that are obvious, only one motorist will see a motorist do so, whereas dozens of motorists will see a cyclist run a light. It happens. But cyclists running the occasional red is simply not a big problem. Cars doing so is.

And while it is true that by far the greatest number of pedestrian injuries and deaths are caused by car drivers…

…Nice of you to admit it…

…as a pedestrian you always have the sneaking suspicion that, in general, car drivers will try their best to avoid hitting you, while cyclists not only don’t care but will happily blame you for any injury which occurs.

“Sneaking suspicion” of nothing except Rod Liddle’s brute prejudice. A straw man, ideas put into the heads of cyclists (THEM!) whom he has not bothered to consult.

It is the last point which is the crucial one. It is about attitude.

Yes it is, Rod. If you see a cyclist and think, “I’ll slow down, pass when it’s safe, I’ll probably not be delayed at all”, then you won’t feel the hate. Calm down, Rod. You’re fat and out-of-shape. Your heart might not take the stress.

For a long time car drivers have had it drummed into them that what they are doing is antisocial and undesirable and have been subjected to ever greater strictures about what they can and can’t do in their cars, how fast they should travel and why they should leave the car in the garage to ease congestion and save the planet.

Well, Rod, it’s not cyclists causing congestion is it? And you think people should be allowed to go as fast as they like, or abandon their vehicles wherever they choose? These “strictures” aren’t for the cyclists’ benefit, but for pedestrians. And motorists.

As a consequence, they have become mindful and cowed. By contrast the cyclists have been told that they are doing a Good Thing, that it would be better if we all cycled (it wouldn’t — it would be better if we all walked) and so believe they can do no wrong.

Simply not true. This is a mere projection of Rod’s own feelings of impotence when stuck in traffic. Traffic of course being created by other fat people like him in cars.

They have the moral high ground, which includes the pavement, since you asked.

I’ve dealt with the Pavement issue.

I think we need a bit of legislation to sort them out, to penalise adult cyclists who ride on pavements, to book them for dangerous driving when they’re cutting lights or riding two abreast on unsuitable roads. And either to make it compulsory for cyclists to use cycle lanes or for local authorities to stop providing them (and turn the existing ones back into normal roads). Then the cyclists will feel an even greater sense of victimhood, and thus be happier.

Or maybe, just maybe, proper, segregated infrastructure will encourage those people who want to cycle to do so without enraging fat, idle, Labour-voting inadequates as the fat about in their fat-mobiles, and indeed making their lipid lives a little easier. More, better cycle lanes will engineer out the conflict. But that would involve giving “THEM” (a word which along with “They”) appears 71 times in Rod Liddle’s article) what they want, and that would not appease Rod “fat labour” Liddle’s sense of victim-hood which flows through this article. The word “They” usually indicates a lack of thought, a generalisation about another group, and such generalisations rarely stand up to scrutiny.

This is an embarrassment to the Spectator, riven with ignorance of the subject and full of internal contradictions.

Did I mention Rod Liddle is a fat member of the Labour Party?

Update: Before you comment, be sure to check your “thoughts” against this Cyclist-hate Bingo card. I want to collect the lot:

15 replies
  1. Antisthenes
    Antisthenes says:

    Did not read all your article far too long. My own experiences when having been in the vicinity of cyclists and observing their behaviour have left me with an enduring dislike of them. I do not make that statement from hearsay or prejudice but from evidence I have been given without looking for it by the antics and attitudes by watching and listening to cyclists. To me they have totally inflated opinions on their rights and worth.

  2. Tom
    Tom says:

    There's a subtle but important difference between someone who rides a bicycle and a cyclist, just as there is between someone who reads the Guardian and a Guardian-reader. You – clearly – are a cyclist! I am sorry to break this news to you.

    As to your personal remarks about Mr Liddle's physique and – worse – your shameful characterisation of the most sublime creation of human ingenuity as a "fat-mobile" I have no complaint. I believe in free speech and this is a classic example of its power. Let a man speak his mind so we may know him for exactly what he is.

    I am so well-nourished as to make Mr Liddle look like a size zero model but have at it. I have no victim mentality. I make my own choices and live with the consequences. I do not seek your approval, because (a) I do not need it and (b) people seeking approval always seem to me to be on the make. I just hope, for your sake, you are in no need of mine!

    There is a role for both motor vehicles and bicycles on our roads; often for the same people on different occasions. I would ride one myself – it would be a useful tool in the London 'burbs – were I not afraid of being mistaken for a cyclist.

    The reason the feelings expressed by Liddle are gaining ground is precisely because of the sanctimonious nastiness he describes and that you simultaneously deny and demonstrate.

    On my way back from the Barbican late on Monday night a man on a bicycle rode past my bus stop without lights. A chap nearby shouted out "lights!" He didn't do it nastily. It was a cheery, neighbourly pointing out to a fellow human of a hazard he presented to himself and others. Of course, he got the cyclist's ritual anglo-saxon response to any questioning of his conduct.

    On my Sunday walk last week on a path clearly marked "no cycling" I was constantly disturbed by smug, lycra-ed types ringing their bells at me. I bit my tongue because I was with a friend and didn't want to spoil a pleasant stroll, but I still feel demeaned by my restraint.

    At the risk of being called a sexist as well as a fat bastard and a car-loving chav, I should add that I have never seen a female bicycle-owner behave in these anti-social ways. It is behaviour reserved entirely to male cyclists in that specialised clothing to which I now react to as a black man would to Klan robes in the Old South.

    The theoretical rider you describe (and claim to be) is my friend whenever he wants to be. I certainly acknowledge that not all motorists always comply with the rules and courtesies of the road. My personal experience in London however is that most motorists – and very few cyclists – do.

    I would add that no decent motorist's hackles rise at criticism of bad driving, whereas it seems cyclists who ride responsibly will instantly rise to their comrades' defence. That's not rational, it's tribal.

    This is not motorists vs cyclists. It is decent people vs ****holes. I am afraid you are too quick and too consistent in rising to the defence of the latter for me to keep telling myself that you are not of their number.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Please sir can I ride my bike wherever I like, ignoring signs and signals, overtaking on the left or right, cutting through gaps, obstructing buses, terrorising pedestrians, exceeding speed limits, race down hills without any hope of being able to stop safely.
    Please can I leave my heap of ironwork anywhere I like, blocking pavements, doorways and access to street furniture.
    Please can my bike be 40% stolen and free to be used to trawl for opportunities for petty crime.
    Please can everyone else look out for my safety as well as looking out for their own because I care for neither.
    Please can everyone else not say anything nasty about nineteenth-century throwbacks like myself.

  4. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    Anonymong, you're a mewling twat.

    "Please sir can I ride my bike wherever I like, ignoring signs and signals, overtaking on the left or right, cutting through gaps, obstructing buses, terrorising pedestrians, exceeding speed limits, race down hills without any hope of being able to stop safely."

    Most (almost all – Torornto, 2/3rds – London) of accidents involving bikes and cars were the car drivers fault. There's no danger of weaving in and out of traffic if it's stationary. The emotion you're feeling is jealousy that the cyclist is moving. A bike can stop from 30mph faster than a car. You're simply ignorant.

    "Please can I leave my heap of ironwork anywhere I like, blocking pavements, doorways and access to street furniture."

    Car parking is a FAR bigger problem. One car space can accommodate 14 bicycles. The answer is more bike parking. A cheap solution for the council.

    "Please can my bike be 40% stolen and free to be used to trawl for opportunities for petty crime."

    I assume that stat is pulled out of your ignorant arse.

    "Please can everyone else look out for my safety as well as looking out for their own because I care for neither."

    The depths of stupidity revealed by that comment is remarkable. It's the duty of ALL road users to look out for each other's safety.

    "Please can everyone else not say anything nasty about nineteenth-century throwbacks like myself."

    I hope you die in a car crash and your mum (if she's not yet died of a heart attack) has to nail some sad flowers to the lamp-post that killed you.

  5. Antisthenes
    Antisthenes says:

    To be fair some motorists have attitude and antics problems but as a proportion of those using the roads they are considerably fewer in number than cyclists. Motorists also pay considerably more than cyclists for the privilege. If cyclists had to be insured, pay road fund licences and contribute to fuel taxes and obey the highway code they may have have a case for being treated better but as they do not I believe they should just shut up and keep a low profile and we may forget what a menace they are to both motorists and pedestrians.

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:


    "If cyclists had to be insured, pay road fund licences and contribute to fuel taxes and obey the highway code they may have have a case for being treated better but as they do not I believe they should just shut up and keep a low profile and we may forget what a menace they are to both motorists and pedestrians."

    Third party cycling insurance was tried in Switzerland. They abandoned the idea because the premiums were so tiny that it was costing the government several times as much to administer enforcement than the entire premiums paid by cyclists. Of course, you may like paying higher taxes…

    There is no "road fund licence" there is an excise duty based on emissions, which effectively zero-rates small cars, electric vehicles and cyclists. I am happy to pay the appropriate level of VED for my bike – zero.

    Contribute to fuel taxes. I am happy to pay tax on any fuel I use for my bike.

    Cyclists are no less obliged to obey the Highway Code than any other road users and there is no evidence that they are less likely to (in my experience, they are more likely to, even of only for reasons of self-preservation).

    Menace to motorist and pedestrians? How many motorists are harmed by cyclists. Last year (last decade, in fact) there were no recorded incidences of any harm to a motorist caused by a cyclist. One pedestrian is killed on pavements every three years by cyclists on average (80 per year are killed by cars).

  7. Antisthenes
    Antisthenes says:

    Aonoymous. You obviously missed the point either by design or because you are intellectually challenged. It is not that cyclists should pay (but certainly must obey the highway code which they in my experience never do) but the fact that cyclists expect to behave and use the roads in any manner that their bloated ego dictates and let motorists pay the added costs for them to do so.

  8. Antisthenes
    Antisthenes says:

    Anonymous. Your statistic about deaths of pedestrians on it's own without including other statistics is meaningless. A test of whether you are intellectually challenged or just being deliberately obtuse would be for you to tell me why.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Dude, I am usually in agreement with you and fully respect the "moderate opinions, immoderatly put" preface. In this instance however, I detect the whiff of identity politics so often rightly derided by your good self in others. Learn to take a fucking joke and accept that not all motorists are arseholes and that not all cyclists are angels for that is where the truth of the matter lies.

    Mr. J. Pants.

  10. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    Two abreast is 1) legal 2) often SAFER than single file and 3) doesn't delay the impatient motorist by anywhere near as much as they think it does, if at all.

    The "problem" of cyclists riding two abreast is one that eists only in the "minds" of the kind of impatient fuckwit who really lacks the maturity to drive safely.

  11. The Backwoodsman
    The Backwoodsman says:

    I own five cars, from VW Diesel to Aston Martin. I have ridden motorcycles, am a pedestrian and use buses and trains as well. I also have a bike, which I enjoy, for the usual reasons.

    When I picked up my latest, a Claude Butler rebuild, (the last few had been nicked) and climbed aboard to pedal home, I recall thinking:
    "I am just about to add myself to an extant traffic system, long establishe; delivery/collection drivers, people behind schedule, buses, short-term necessities, ambulances, police vehicles, fire engines and people out for a drive. Not to mention people on mobility scooters, people lost, witless, those who have just discverd that their marriages are over, or ill, or simply drunk.

    Best I be careful, thinks I. I am happy to report I got home safely.

    I agree re. Liddle. The fact that he has a soapbox in the Speccie reflects a simple truth, which is that the Right are more tolerant that the Left in giving idiots space. Rope, hanging etc. The Telegraph gives Mary Riddell space for similar reasons. I rather doubt that the Staggers would invite Heffer a similar courtesy, and I think we know why.

    So calm down…

  12. bob
    bob says:

    I would not worry too much about him. Because he's unhealthy and overweight (that's more politically correct) he will probably die of an heart attack in the next 10 to 15 years.
    That reminds me of a person laughing at cyclist for being good organ donors and then dying of an heart attack later on for lack of physical activity.


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