A senior Conservative politician has been caught on camera in London apparently riding his bicycle through red lights and going the wrong way down one-way streets.
The Mirror, which published the pictures on its website, says that Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell rode through eight sets of traffic lights, and claims that he “narrowly avoided several pedestrians, cars and a doubledecker bus as he careered over crossings and pedalled along busy pavements.”
It claimed that he had even been spotted using his BlackBerry while cycling along and “wore dark waterproofs on his way to Westminster from his house in Islington, North London, rather than reflective gear as safety groups advise” – although neither of those constitutes breaking the law when riding a bike.
The newspaper, perhaps unintentionally giving the impression that it employs a crack team of reporters and photographers for the specific purpose of catching out Conservative politicians while they are pedaling bicycles rather than policies, says that Mr Mitchell is the fourth senior Tory it has caught breaking the law while out cycling, joining party leader David Cameron, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and former strategist Steve Hilton in its hall of shame.
It added that Mr Mitchell, who is the MP for Sutton Coldfield, claimed that he had no "clear recollection" of the road traffic offences that it said that he'd committed, stating “I always look carefully at the traffic when I'm cycling. Cycling safety is extremely important and I must do better. I've been cycling in London for 13 years."
Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who is vice-chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, told the newspaper: "This is profoundly foolish and reckless behaviour."
While that sentiment will be shared by many road.cc readers, who in our poll earlier this year cited issues such as riding through red lights as their biggest bugbear about other cyclists, it’s hardly a surprising one with Mr Mitchell sitting on the other side of the House of Commons and a General Election just weeks away.
The Mirror added that a spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents had stated that Mr Mitchell’s behaviour was "disappointing."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.