The Daily Mail has run an article they say exposes CTC president Jon Snow as a serial rule-breaker during a three-mile bike ride from Channel 4 news HQ to his home.
But Snow has described the paper as ‘at best, cycling challenged’ and rejects the accusations levelled at him.
The article, headlined Drivers beware: How news presenter Jon Snow flouts the rules of cycle safety, begins, “As figurehead of a society which represents the interests of Britain’s 20million cyclists, news presenter Jon Snow might be expected to set an example behind the handlebars.
“And indeed he does. A bad one.
“Despite being a vocal campaigner for cycle safety, the 62-year-old flouts the rules with astonishing regularity.”
A photographer at least must have followed the newsreader for the three-mile journey to his home – via a pub quiz – because the article then catalogues a series of transgressions, with supporting photos.
They include not stopping at red lights, riding on the pavement, failing to stop at a box junction to allow an oncoming ambulance to pass, failing to stop at a zebra crossing, and using his mobile while cycling – including apparently sending a text.
The Mail fulsomely describes each incident in an increasingly sanctimonious tone and with barely concealed glee, saying, for example, “As he darted in and out of incoming traffic on his mountain bike in his suit, his ankle clips revealing his trademark fluorescent socks, he seemed oblivious to the taxis and lorries thundering close by him.”
It’s not made clear how the photographer kept up with Snow – presumably by jumping the same red lights.
In response, an unrepentant Snow said those responsible for the story were ‘at best, cycling challenged’. He told road.cc, “In the first picture I am leaving the hoops I had parked on. In the other pavement shot I am arriving at railings to which the photographer would have seen me secure the bike – you can see the top of my leg swinging over the saddle preparatory to parking.
“It is alas NOT illegal to use a mobile on a bike (but should be!)
“The red lights I was well past when they turned red and the ambulance I obviously stopped for. I regret nothing beyond the reality that in common with America and many other countries we need a serious national cycling strategy and REAL provision for cycle use.”
A CTC spokesperson said, "CTC - the UK's national cyclists' organisation does not condone law-breaking by either cyclists or motorists on our roads. This is why we campaign for an increase in traffic police to ensure all types of road users don't break the law. However, before we point the finger at Jon Snow, it is important to remember that cyclists in urban areas are less likely than drivers to be involved in a collision that injures another road user and the difference is even greater when it comes to serious and fatal injuries.
“Just like Boris Johnson and David Cameron before him, Jon Snow appears to be singled out, as if he is the only person on the roads breaking the Highway Code. To be fair, we would also like the popular media to turn their attention to those motorists who don't abide by the rules of the road. If any reporters were followed driving home, CTC would be amazed if they all followed the Highway Code perfectly."
The article generated the usual flood of self-righteous commentary from Daily Mail readers. Among the more entertaining is this one, from ‘Trillian’ in Bristol, “This man is a hypocrite of the highest order. Just typical from the self confessed 'pinko-liberal' – quite happy to rake in a very large salary, marry in a millionaires playground and flout the rules of the road whilst publicly espousing road safety. Doesn't sound very 'for the people' to me! Maybe he took a leaf out of New Labours book. Thank god they're gone...”