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TV presenter lambasts rider for following advice of training bodies, IAM, TfL etc

What do you do if you're a cyclist who Jeremy Clarkson has accused on Twitter of "point-making" because you took the lane to protect yourself from being passed dangerously? You take to the internet and set the record straight in great detail.

That’s what a user of the forums over on mountain bike site Singletrackworld did when Clarkson posted a snap of him behaving perfectly legally on Twitter last week.

Here's Clarkson's intitial post:

Unsurprisingly, a few cyclists responded that he was using a mobile phone to take a picture while in control of a vehicle and therefore possibly committing an offence himself.

Many also responded that the narrowness of the road meant the rider was doing exactly what Bikeability, the Institute of Advanced Motoring and even Transport for London recommend: taking the lane.

Clarkson implied that the rider was making a point because he'd sworn at drivers who tried to overtake him:

Your usual Twitterstorm ensued, with Clarkson's more petrolhead followers wishing death to anyone on two wheels while cyclists tried to point out that the rider was doing nothing wrong. As usual it got heated.

Discussion spread to the always-lively forums on Singletrackworld.com, where user Itsme posted this lengthy account of what happened:

Right then, from the horses mouth so to speak.......

I was riding home from work (this is one of my regular routes) down Sloane Avenue in Chelsea towards Sloane Square. As I approached this island at the junction of Ixworth Street, a Range Rover over took me, because he had to veer left to avoid hitting the island I got pushed owards the kerb.

Sloane Ave

There was no point to this pass as there was slow moving traffic a little bit further down the road.

Now I was pretty cheesed off with this and most of you will know a close pass starts pumping adrenaline. Sloane Ave is a nice flat road and it's really easy to keep up with the trafic and just past the island I was keeping pace with the Range Rover, the driver was looking in his N/S door mirror giving the 'stare'. I admit that I was fairly vocal at this point and shouted 'What? you f*****g c**k, f****** knobstick' not much of an insult but I was too riled up to think straight.

As we approached the junction with Cadogan Street the traffic started slowing so I moved to the middle of the road to overtake. As I passed the Range Rover the window started to come down and a few words were exchanged by both of us as I passed (I can't remember what, I don't think it was as bad as the first reaction though as I tend to calm down fairly quickly). I then kept up with the traffic for the rest of Sloane Ave, and then in to Draycott Place which is quite narrow for a two way road.

Draycott Place

Keeping up with the traffic in Draycott Place is easy as well, and as I approached the crossing at the end someone was waiting to cross so I stopped (I always do this, and stop at red lights as well believe it or not!), before it, and not on the crossing as some have suggested.

The junction

I was turning right at this junction to go down to Sloane Square, so as I moved off I was positioning myself for this.

At the junction I looked behind me and saw Jeremy Clarkson just pulling up behind me with his head and arm out of the window, holding his phone and shouting 'gotcha' and looking well smug with himself. He was driving, and there was nobody else in the car. I got off my bike and pushed it back to his car and pointed out that he was overtaking me going in to a hazard, and made me change course. He just kept shouting increduously 'you were four feet from the kerb, but you were four feet from the kerb, I'm a cyclist and you were four feet from the kerb!'.

After a couple of attempts to explain to him why I thought he was wrong I gave up as he just kept shouting, I then rode off. Throughout this exchange I stayed reasonably calm.

At no time did I abuse any other road user or pedestrian on my journey home.

What JC's pic on twitter doesn't show is how much traffic was about at the time. Before I stopped at the crossing the junction was busy, and the traffic was queing all the way down to Sloane Square. I was probably well on my way to Parliament Square by the time JC got through Sloane Square. The ambulance wasn't parked either, it was moving.

Thanks for your patience reading my longest ever post!

Among the many who responded to Clarkson was Radio Two presenter Jeremy Vine, who pointed out: "He has every right - you muppet". 

This morning the Daily Mail posted an essay by Vine on the dangers of cycling on London's roads, and the Twitterstorm he online argument he and Clarkson sparked. The permanently angry attitude of many drivers is a very real problem, he says.

Vine writes: "On Twitter such a spat is entertaining. But take that hostility on to the road — put that angry mind in charge of a metal hulk on four wheels or even 12 — and it becomes a threat to the life of any cyclists."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

66 comments

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 2 years ago
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How exciting!

Not the story but the fact I used to live on that road  21

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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Have the police been in contact with Clarkson yet?

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plowsie [18 posts] 2 years ago
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Jesus, thats a rather detailed reply...  21

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BarefootBrian [20 posts] 2 years ago
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Has anyone, like the Police, for instance, questioned Clarkson and asked him how he managed to take that photo while he was driving? The EXIF information would be able to identify the device used in case of any doubt.

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 2 years ago
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BarefootBrian wrote:

Has anyone, like the Police, for instance, questioned Clarkson and asked him how he managed to take that photo while he was driving? The EXIF information would be able to identify the device used in case of any doubt.

Good point.

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md6 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Jeremy Clarkson is moron - Shocker

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jason.timothy.jones [294 posts] 2 years ago
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its a shame the Cyclist didnt have a helmet cam, then we would have been treated to a video of Clarkson being a knob.... oh wait, thats what his TV show is for  24

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fancynancy [78 posts] 2 years ago
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I am a keen car enthusiast & cyclist & I am disappointed in Jezza. He did take to two wheels recently & I would have thought the experience would have made him slightly more sympathetic towards cyclists in London. It’s a shame as it has just enraged a load of car drivers instead. What we need is someone like Jez giving a good word or two towards cyclists. The whole two tribes road tax rubbish really does upset me, most of us drive & are peds as well  36

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Jamespalmer100 [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Who really cares. I don't.

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Jamespalmer100 [8 posts] 2 years ago
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Who really cares. I don't.

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Shades [303 posts] 2 years ago
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Why are some motorists, even when you're 'taking the lane', so hell bent on getting past, often overtaking dangerously. Often you end up overtaking them again shortly afterwards and wonder why they bothered. I guess if they never cycle they 'don't get it'.
We were in a work team meeting today and the subject of lack of parking, queues etc came up. The cyclists just collectively shrugged their shoulders and grinned!

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 2 years ago
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Jamespalmer100 wrote:

Who really cares. I don't.

Devastating irony laden intellectual killer suckerpunch of the week.

Not that I care.

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arfa [767 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't care were it not for the fact there are an awful lot of petrol head automatons who hang on his every word. You only have to look at the time line of that tweet to see some of the ridiculous bile foaming from the mouths of his followers. The number of times I encounter "get out of my way" drivers in London is just downright dangerous and depressing and this just reinforces their one eyed view.
He has had the offer of cycle training and it might help if he publicly took it up.

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curdins [39 posts] 2 years ago
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Excellent witty & clever response to someone deluded enough to think they're witty and clever. Wish I'd written it.

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oozaveared [941 posts] 2 years ago
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There will always be people that don't understand why you are taking the lane or are out from the curb. Probably because when I went to school back in the sixties and seventies cycling proficiency courses told you to stay close to the side of the road. In fact when my lads did cycling proficiency 5 or 6 years ago they had issues with an instructor that didn't like them being more than 2 feet from the pavement. BTW the oldest who was already cycling with a club was told to put his saddle down to the level where he could put both feet flat on the ground and still sit on the saddle. It was bonkers. I digress.

The point is not to be intimidated by numpties like Clarkson into not taking the lane. One of the reasons why they think ladies suffer more accidents is that they may not be so assertive in their riding. Idiots like Clarkson don't help. And I think the Police should go and make an example of him "pour encourager les autres".

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 2 years ago
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Meh. Professional angry man displays his ignorance/lack of knowledge of riding a bike by being a dick.

FWIW, if the cyclist is turning right, where else does a car driver expect him to be. Hugging the kerb until the last minute then making a 45 degree surge across the road? Looks totally normal behaviour to me. I assume he'd signalled before the picture was taken by the velcro-haired Greenwoods menswear patron? Beware angry men in slacks.

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mlimburn [28 posts] 2 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers [398 posts] 2 years ago
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Twitter strips EXIF data from the photograph so the police would have to do a bit more digging, tbh.

I'm disappointed in Clarkson. I love watching Top Gear but I doubt I'll find it quite as entertaining now that we have proof he's a massive dickhead.

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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Ignorance is a major cause of conflict. Drivers perceive some kind of wrong doing and use it to lambast the poor person on the bike. This is a perfect example, but it often happens with riding two abreast as well, or riding on the road and not on a cycle path. Typical symptoms include spouting non-existent highway code rules or going on about non existent cycling proficiency.

When you pair ignorance with aggression things get even worse. You get someone in a car who uses their belief of being "in the right" (due to incorrectly perceived wrong-doing by a cyclist) to justify dangerous behaviour such as a close pass, failing to concede right of way, or a mouthful of abuse.

The media often reports cyclists as being verbally abusive and agressive. I can understand this as when subjected to a potentially lethal episode of road-rage the adrenaline starts pumping. However you have to remember that the person is simply reacting to a situation caused by someone else. You don't see cyclists (even the lycra louts) riding along effing and blinding at everyone they see in a car.

Here's a couple of examples I've experienced;
- Riding in bus/cycle lane stopped at traffic lights in primary position. Minibus pulls up behind me and gets on the horn. I turn round and get told to "get out of the f***ing way" as I shouldn't be in the bus lane. I point to the sign (4ft away) with a large bicycle symbol on it. He gets on the horn again. The minibus
was privately owned and had no right to use the lane.
- Riding up the outside of a queue of stationary traffic. The road has a single lane but 300m ahead it splits into two lanes. A woman with her phone to her ear pulls out of the queue, causing me to swerve violently to avoid her. She drives on the wrong side on the road causing oncoming traffic to move out of her way so she can join the queue in the second lane. As I catch up with her she winds down the window and says (unprompted) "You ought to be more careful, you'll get yourself killed riding like that."
- A group of drunk men are stood outside a pub, smoking. As I ride past (on the road, at about 20mph) one of them yells at me that I should be riding in the cycle lane (which they are standing in and totally blocking).
- Riding on a shared use path (cycles on one side, pedestrians on the other, big solid white line painted in the middle at an attempt of some sort of segregation) I see that I am approaching a woman walking here dog. She is on the "cycling" side. I slow and give a friendly whistle. She turns round and tells me not to whistle at her like she's some sort of dog, then launches into a tirade of abuse. I point out that she's walking on a cycle path. She says she's not and that bicycles aren't allowed on the pavement. I point at her feet and ask her to observe the large white painted bicycle symbol that she is stood on.

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oozaveared [941 posts] 2 years ago
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qwerky wrote:

Ignorance is a major cause of conflict. Drivers perceive some kind of wrong doing and use it to lambast the poor person on the bike. This is a perfect example, but it often happens with riding two abreast as well, or riding on the road and not on a cycle path. Typical symptoms include spouting non-existent highway code rules or going on about non existent cycling proficiency.....

The media often reports cyclists as being verbally abusive and agressive. I can understand this as when subjected to a potentially lethal episode of road-rage the adrenaline starts pumping. However you have to remember that the person is simply reacting to a situation caused by someone else. You don't see cyclists (even the lycra louts) riding along effing and blinding at everyone they see in a car.

Absolutely right. Non existent highway code regulations are always highly amusing. One woman stopped her Range Rover last year to tell me that the white line running along the side of the road was for cyclists to make sure they weren't in anyone's way. This aparrently was in the Highway Code and I was advised to read it. I think it comes as a shock or at least gives pause to a lot of drivers that most cyclists do have driving licences. I even own three quite nice cars. I just like cycling as well.

As for the perception that cyclists can be agressive. That's probably stemming from the same idea that cyclists must be poor, low status people that won't answer back. There is a Transport Research Laboratory report that alluded to a hierachy that many drivers used. The bigger, more expensive your vehicle the more rights you were perceived to have. I have both a large powerful Saab and a Smart FourTwo. My own very unscientific research is that the TRL report holds true. If I drive at the speed limit in the big Saab then no bother. If I do the same thing in the Smart Car then I get hooted and flashed quite a few times. Lower status see.

It's not all that helpful but may be worth bearing in mind.

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edster99 [336 posts] 2 years ago
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all of those would be funny, if they weren't so pitiful.

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AyBee [85 posts] 2 years ago
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"taking the lane" is for safety, not controlling other cars because you, in your own opinion, "can keep up with traffic". Complete non-story because we only have one side of it...

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nbrus [293 posts] 2 years ago
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I got beeped today while driving in the outside lane of a dual carriageway just above the speed limit of 50 mph ... why would someone beep their horn and flash their lights at me when they would be illegal if driving faster? People just don't like being held up, regardless of whether or not they would be breaking the law by going faster. I can understand why Clarkson got annoyed even if the cyclist is legally within his rights to take the centre of the lane (not something I would normally do), but it would have been simple to pull in/slow down and let Clarkson past, then the whole episode could have been avoided.

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dafyddp [391 posts] 2 years ago
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As you'd expect, Vine's Daily Mail article comments are something else.

Even some of the Pro-cycling lobby are right of Farage "This environmental claptrap has been one of the most significant reason that many men don't cycle - who wants to be motivated by limp-wristed reasons like that. Cycling is about keeping fit, going fast, getting somewhere, saving money and starving the tax-grubbing government of its iniquitous parking fees and fines, and its beats jogging."

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userfriendly [578 posts] 2 years ago
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Let's face it, a lot of people are seriously fucked up in the head. There are two solutions I can think of - one, a new kind of fascism where we round up everyone with a below average IQ and intern them in camps, or two, at least don't allow them to drive cars.

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NorthEastJimmy [58 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been a huge fan of Clarkson for years; saw his show live as a kid, and defended every comment he's ever made that's landed him in trouble in the media.

I'm actually really disappointed because all it takes is for him to show all this on Top Gear, mocking it in his usual manner, in doing so will create thousands of cyclist haters.

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Tony [117 posts] 2 years ago
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Has anyone asked why Clarkson needed to use such a wide, lane hogging vehicle to transport just himself around London? If he'd been on something sensible for a single adult, like a bicycle for example, he would have had no problem. Its just his fixation on lugging three tonnes of metal and five empty seats around with him when he's on his own that is causing his problem.

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antonio [1126 posts] 2 years ago
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Incontrovertible evidence of mobile phone use while driving, nuff said!

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danhan900 [6 posts] 2 years ago
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I wonder what would have happened if you were an off duty policeman - would plod be all over him by now? "Taxi driver who deliberately swerved into cycling policeman could face jail"

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eurotrash [88 posts] 2 years ago
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Super Domestique wrote:

How exciting!

Not the story but the fact I used to live on that road  21

Are you a bajillionaire?  39

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