Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson hits out at cyclists: "Work hard and get a car"

BBC presenter's comments cause Twitter furore - oh, and we don't pay 'road tax'...

by Simon_MacMichael   February 7, 2011  

Top Gear logo.jpeg

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond may have had their knuckles rapped over recent comments about Mexicans that resulted in the BBC issuing a formal apology, but happily for the doyen of the petrolhead community, there is one minority it still seems okay for him to disparage with impunity – cyclists. Oh, and Albanians too, going by last night’s show, as well as the French.

Hammond, a keen cyclist, had been talking in last night’s episode – the segment starts 21 minutes 27 seconds in – about last week’s BBC News feature about cylists wearing helmetcams “so they can video examples of road rage and people cutting them up on their bikes,” to which Clarkson interjected, “But cyclists deserve it,” the exchange continuing:

Hammond: “Don’t say that!”

Clarkson: “But they do deserve it, honestly. The other week, no honestly, there I am sitting in a traffic jam in London” – oh, the irony – “and a Frenchman, he was tried to cycle between the pavement and my car and after he’d removed most of the paint with his brake handle thing he came round to the drivers door to tell me off in that silly accent French people have.”

Hammond: “What, a French accent?”

Clarkson: “Yes, that, and I said to him, listen if you just work hard you can have a car.”

Hammond: “You are exactly the reason why I want a camera on my bicycle helmet when I cycle.”

Clarkson: “Why?”

Hammond: “When idiots like you get out of their car having cut me up – ”

Clarkson: “Who pays the road tax?”

Hammond: “Well – ”

Clarkson: “I’m sorry, I don’t mind if cyclists want to come on the road with their silly Victorian distractions, I’m not bothered, but they must behave themselves.”

News of Clarkson’s disparaging remarks against cyclists quickly spread through the Twitterverse, presumably giving a slight boost to Top Gear’s viewing figures as people who would normally not even consider tuning in switched over to see what the fuss was.

More than one pointed out that rather than being a separate species, most adult cyclists do in fact own cars – they just choose not to use them to the exclusion of all other forms of transport.

While some might hold that Clarkson’s comments are just banter, and that he’s playing a kind of pantomime villain role, the fact is that Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most successful programmes, and he also pens motoring columns for The Times and The Sun that enable his views to be read by – and perhaps influence – millions.

One cyclist is organising a group ride from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire next Saturday with the itinerary taking in the nearby road where Clarkson lives, which we assume will be included on a number of loops – details here.

Meanwhile, the Save A Cyclist campaign urged Twitter users to “Make sure you let everybody @BBC_TopGear know what you think of Clarkson's attitude to cyclists.”

Although Clarkson, portrayed by the comedian Steve Coogan in a piece in yesterday’s Observer as akin to a school bully could be viewed as having made something of a schoolboy error in his reference to the non-existent ‘road tax,’ we’re guessing that the slip-up is a clever ruse on his part - it will let him show how clued-up he is about the whole issue of Vehicle Excise Duty and the fact that roads are funded out of general taxation when he corrects his error on next week’s programme.

At the same time as apologising to cyclists, Albanians and, yes, the French.

 

76 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

not sure if this has been said above but the comment(s) was made on what is now mostly an factual but entertaining program, and the comments were made in good humor. As a cyclist I can and did see the funny side of it.

Everyone knows what clarkson is like and of you don't like his views or style then don't bother watching the program or reading his columns.

posted by kjw1991 [1 posts]
8th February 2011 - 18:48

5 Likes

Oh clever old Clarkson, coming up with the old road tax one again. Firstly, I own a car and have a tax disc, does this mean I still deserve to be mowed down in cold blood every time I am bold enough to dare to risk my life on my bicycle. Secondly, that little tax disc should not be called road tax cos it isnt. It doesnt pay for the roads, that comes out of the taxes that everyone pays. I wish people would stop calling it road tax, it is VEHICLE TAX.
Thirdly, and this is just an opinion, Clarkson is a stupid, curly haired twat, allegedly.

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [62 posts]
8th February 2011 - 19:07

1 Like

He's not even a real hamster.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [423 posts]
8th February 2011 - 19:42

1 Like

Jeremy Clarkson is married to someone who cycles a bit-Mrs C did a charity bike ride last year- 350 miles for Help for Heroes and I know that Mrs C did a lot of training on the roads on her bike. He just says things for a reaction..........

posted by IOM Paddy [38 posts]
8th February 2011 - 20:38

1 Like

I saw him in the flesh at a ski resort in France of all places.

He was eating lunch a table over from me in a cafe. Looked and sounded like an absolute flange.

His daughter was quite fit but imagine going round to her house and having to do polite chat with that tit. But I digress...

The BBC's given up on actually producing anything that represents quality, factual programs. I remember watching Top Gear as a kid and it actually reviewed real cars. Of all things.

Now its just Clarkson slagging things off in front of an audience of morons. I wouldn't complain for fear of confirming to them that I even give a shit about what he thinks.

...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
8th February 2011 - 21:13

2 Likes

It's still the case that a bicycle is the fastest way to get across London, and Top Gear know that!

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
8th February 2011 - 21:46

1 Like

I saw the tour by Stewart Lee when he did that Clarkson joke. I love Stew Lee almost as much as I love cycling. Lots and lots.

The Man In Black.

posted by gandberg [215 posts]
8th February 2011 - 22:08

1 Like

PAVEMENT TAX DISCS (for pedestrians)

To be DISPLAYED on the FOREHEAD

It has been correctly pointed out to me that I don't pay 'Road Tax. (though I do own a car and drive 15000 miles per annum and pay 'ehicle excise Duty')
The next time somebody points this out to me, I shall say ''that's right'', neither do you? nor do those pedestrians that haven't got 'PAVEMENT TAX DISCS' displayed on their foreheads.
I think Clarkson would look great with a PAVEMENT TAX DISC on his forehead. I assume he pays for the pavements as well, even though he doesn't walk anywhere, that's obvious.
Top Cog.
We watch Top Gear as a family. I think a reversal of programme would be great. I t could be called Top Cog, with the first celebrity on a reasonably priced bike would of course be Clarkson,his lap wold have to be spread over a couple of episodes as he makes his way round at the rate of coastal erosion which I think si well quite slow.

tommy2p

posted by tommy2p [85 posts]
9th February 2011 - 1:12

1 Like

'It's only Clarkson', 'get over it', 'lighten up' etc etc - but he does actually have thousands of followers, just like a school bully except supercharged by the vast number of hangers on, all standing behind him sniggering and sayin 'yeh, go on Jezza, hit 'im'. He has actually written books which are, believe it or not, bought by these hundreds of thousands of cronies, presumably actually beliving that he is a champion of anti-'political correctness'. So he has a huge influence on the lowest common denominator thinking of this country and his damaging unthinking rubbish has to be taken seriously to some extent.

What he said should be taken by the BBC as an opportunity to explain the 'road tax' position fully to the huge Top Gear audience. It would go a long way to informing the Bristish public of the true state of affairs and might help to reduce cyclist bashing.

The VAT you pay on bikes and parts easily covers the proportion of roads used by bikes, in space, road wear, and facilities. The 'road' needed by bikes is tiny and low tech compared to motors. Bikes don't use motorways (most expensive roads), don't need the same strength and depth of road surface, don't need the complex and expensive junctions, dual carriageways, barriers, etc etc. which are there for motor vehicles. If there actually was such a thing as 'road tax', it would cost cyclists about ten pee a year, it would cost more to collect than would go on roads.

Many people use a bike instead of their car for a particlar journey, so you could even say their VED should be rebated for those journeys! (Silly I know but it makes the point).

posted by bikeylikey [173 posts]
9th February 2011 - 9:37

2 Likes

WHY are adults even considering showing Clarkson that they listen to his views ?
People watch the program like F1 in a mindless state, bit like back ground music, not necessary to engage the brain as the program churns through !

Ride past his house ? Who gives a monkeys toss for his views except those mindless, spiteful, neanderthals that think they are drivers as they attempt to commit manslaughter as they take it out on cyclists after a blowup with their nearest & dearest or work superiors !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [392 posts]
9th February 2011 - 21:08

1 Like

Why do people laugh at Jeremy Clarkson right up to the point where he has a pop at your interest? Top Gear is funny. End of. If you don't like his style of humour, which is miles away from offensive, don't watch! Simples!

He has a go at everyone, even car drivers. He once said he wanted to have snipers who would 'take out' those idiots who sit in yellow boxes. Brilliant!

Chill out people, it's a joke.

Wink

posted by thehairs1970 [24 posts]
10th February 2011 - 10:45

2 Likes

Instead of having a go Clown-Clarkson for doing what he get's paid to do - bait people. Why not PRAISE Hamster for saying that he Needs to wear a camera because Clarkson is a clown on the road...?

DaveP's picture

posted by DaveP [467 posts]
10th February 2011 - 18:46

2 Likes

On a more personal note, I'm sure that I too would be bitter and resentful if I had to suffer the misfortune upon waking every morning, looking in the mirror and realising..... OH NO... ! I'M JEREMY CLARKSON!!! It wasn't just a really bad dream after all!

Looking like that.... poor bastard eh?

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 11:57

1 Like

I see Clarkson voices extreme views for money, I also see that the gibberish he spouts can be categorized as humour, just about. I prefer to think of him as an absolute twat who knows exactly what he's doing by picking on unrepresented groups that can't come and blow up his house and or family or bring the full force of our PC law to bear down on him. He prefers the soft targets (no pun intended) a perfect illustration of the schoolyard bully. All of the Top Gear presenters know better, they're well educated and more or less erudite so one must conclude that they are at best being idiots at worst are doing and saying their stuff knowing that their diatribe is going to be taken seriously by the weak minded readers of red tops. If this second is true then they are the worst type of humanity; those happily willing to jeopardise the lives of others for money.

I wish that Clarksons daughters, all three of them, go blind, that he returns home one day to find his wife being serviced in every orifice by sweaty lycra clad cyclists whilst screaming out in joy and ecstacy,that Hammond dies a slow and horrible death in yet another BBC funded speed drive and that May also dies slowly and painfully whilst doing one of his pointless explosive TV experiments. All this should happen live on prime time TV!!!

Of course I'm only joking aren't I, 'aving a larf, have you no sense of humour? It's simply my interpertation of post-modern topical humour.
Devil
Tee hee hee.

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 13:31

1 Like

The verb "To Clarkson" Def: The act of expelling excessively loud and smelly farts in a crowded public space whilst expecting those affected to find the experience hilariously funny.
Devil

Tee hee hee!

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 13:40

1 Like

Verb: "To Hammond" or "To Hamster" Def: The act of actively ignoring ones conscience and sense of morality for either money, or the fear of being bullied by ones peer group "member" or, more usually, both at the same time.

Verb: "To May" Def: To go along with whatever nasty stuff is happening because that's what's expected of you for your fee even though you know what is the proper thing to do.

Devil

Oh you three! You are so..... funny?

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 13:49

1 Like

This is what i hate, if your a cyclist moaning about this.. shut your gob and grow up. Its a COMEDY tv programme have you never heard of a joke. People in this world are offended to easily! Here's a way to look at it, dont give a shit what people say, dont start pointless arguments. Nob heads in cars do cut of people in other cars too its not just cyclists. get over yourself and go enjoy yoursen on a bike isnt that the point instead of instead of nit picking because a guy in his micra has come past you 'too fast'. if you dont like it dont pay attention to peoples comments everybody has a freedom of speech. Peace

posted by James Coulton [1 posts]
11th February 2011 - 15:17

1 Like

A post that starts by telling people to shut their gob, and ends by declaring that everyone has free speech (they don't but we won't quibble).

Quite a dichotomy you've got there.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [566 posts]
11th February 2011 - 16:02

1 Like

James Coulton wrote:
This is what i hate, if your a cyclist moaning about this.. shut your gob and grow up. Its a COMEDY tv programme have you never heard of a joke. People in this world are offended to easily! Here's a way to look at it, dont give a shit what people say, dont start pointless arguments. Nob heads in cars do cut of people in other cars too its not just cyclists. get over yourself and go enjoy yoursen on a bike isnt that the point instead of instead of nit picking because a guy in his micra has come past you 'too fast'. if you dont like it dont pay attention to peoples comments everybody has a freedom of speech. Peace

-cept i dont have a roll cage and airbags protecting me if i get smacked at 40mph+ clarkson et al may have advanced driving etc and input from the stig but, they are doing their daft driving on closed roads. sadly some pillock out there will think that they can pull the same stunt on the main road and kill somebody. They are a danger to themselves and others not just cyclists and influenced by the adrealin junkies on TG and 5thGear!!!

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
11th February 2011 - 16:13

1 Like

The fact that some pillock will copy a stunt and kill someone is not reason to get rid of the stunt. This argument could also be used against cyclists who try to copy their heroes and plummet down the side of mountains at ridiculous speeds. Shall we therefore get rid of mountain descents on the Tour or ban downhill mountain biking? Clarkson is not seriously suggesting any harm to cyclists. No more than he, as I suggested earlier, really expects us to shoot those who sit in yellow boxes at junctions.

Top Gear is a funny program. Those of us who watch should watch it if we don't like the humour. If you don't watch it, you've already sent BBC your message. Let's not get so uppity about something so petty. Let's tke on the real criminals - those who flout the law and have no regard for the safety of other road users, whatever their choice of transport.

Angry

posted by thehairs1970 [24 posts]
11th February 2011 - 16:34

1 Like

@thehairs1970 - sure its funny, i watch it, i have also driven for 25+years and have driven all manner of vehicles bar HGV's. Sadly, there are individuals out there who will try and drive like the Top Gear presenters and will wrap themselves around a lamp post, in the same way some cyclist will try and do a Cav in racing for the lights and end up being the mascot on the grill of a HGV!!!

As cyclists we know how fragile our bodies are especially if we get bounced by a passing vehicle or lose a wheel on a fast decent.

Motorists are sadly these days reliant on all the safety features in the modern car. Watch the next time your out bike or car and see how many late brakers at junctions there are or drivers who take the wrong line in corners!

Yes Clarkson et al are good drivers and funny, sadly their audience are not necessarily so and the Top Gear presenters are more the fools for encouraging others to flout the Highway Code oh include the light jumping, kerb hopping unluminated numbers who go around on bikes amongst the flouters!!!

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
11th February 2011 - 17:05

2 Likes

James Coulton wrote:
This is what i hate, if your a cyclist moaning about this.. shut your gob and grow up. Its a COMEDY tv programme have you never heard of a joke. People in this world are offended to easily! Here's a way to look at it, dont give a shit what people say, dont start pointless arguments. Nob heads in cars do cut of people in other cars too its not just cyclists. get over yourself and go enjoy yoursen on a bike isnt that the point instead of instead of nit picking because a guy in his micra has come past you 'too fast'. if you dont like it dont pay attention to peoples comments everybody has a freedom of speech. Peace

Hello again James, I can see quite a few spelling mistakes and some elementary grammatical errors in your submission plus a rather over generous helping of bullshit too.

Bisous mon chere

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 21:19

1 Like

James Coulton wrote:
This is what i hate, if your a cyclist moaning about this.. shut your gob and grow up. Its a COMEDY tv programme have you never heard of a joke. People in this world are offended to easily! Here's a way to look at it, dont give a shit what people say, dont start pointless arguments. Nob heads in cars do cut of people in other cars too its not just cyclists. get over yourself and go enjoy yoursen on a bike isnt that the point instead of instead of nit picking because a guy in his micra has come past you 'too fast'. if you dont like it dont pay attention to peoples comments everybody has a freedom of speech. Peace

Take it easy mate, it's comedy, a laugh, poking fun at some TV personalities. We're just doing for free what Jezza and his mates do for pay, so YOU get over youself chummy!

Bisous mon chere

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 21:23

1 Like

Give us a kiss James but while I remember... what's you car and reg number just in case, not that you don't have a sense of humour of course!

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
11th February 2011 - 21:27

2 Likes

If Jeremy Clarkson ever retires or is carried off by wolves you're welcome to take Don Cherry from us here in Canada. His qualifications include a blinding wardrobe, a love of cars and a hearty disrespect for cyclists and other "left-wing pinkos". And if you order now we'll throw in Toronto's mayor Rob Ford at no extra charge. But remember, all sales are final.

Dave K

Dave Krentz's picture

posted by Dave Krentz [11 posts]
12th February 2011 - 4:14

1 Like

Dave Krentz wrote:
If Jeremy Clarkson ever retires or is carried off by wolves you're welcome to take Don Cherry from us here in Canada. His qualifications include a blinding wardrobe, a love of cars and a hearty disrespect for cyclists and other "left-wing pinkos". And if you order now we'll throw in Toronto's mayor Rob Ford at no extra charge. But remember, all sales are final.

Hmmm..... A very tempting offer particularly the "carried off by wolves" option but alas I fear getting rid of JC will be more tricky than removing dog shit from bike shoe cleats but thanks for the amusing options.
Devil

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
12th February 2011 - 11:10

1 Like

I've deleted it, it was just toooo funny and just a bit toooo libelous

posted by grandpagranola [9 posts]
12th February 2011 - 11:11

1 Like

To all those saying Clarkson is just a harmless entertainer: I guess then it is a coincidence that most of his "jokes" also happen to push his own personal right-wing, pro-motoring-at-all-costs, anti-environmentalism agenda? And that his targets happen to be out-groups, not because he is a cowardly bully, but because minorities are intrinsically greater sources of humour. Or that there is nothing sinister about the fact that he has turned his derision outward, away from these shores, since his preferred political party got into power at home. (Incidentally, does it bother anyone else that Clarkson and his two goons seem to have replaced Michael Palin as the BBC's first choice when they want to show us exotic foreign lands. So we now only get to see the wonders of the world via the view from a car, with locals cast as unknowable foreigners, usually serving in the capacity of car mechanics, rather than the interesting individuals you meet when you explore by foot, bike, bus or train.)

posted by handlebarcam [533 posts]
14th February 2011 - 21:27

0 Likes

I don't have a car (quite unusual for a cycle enthusiast)so I don't have any vehicle excise duty to pay for. But I do have a television licence, I have never watched Top Gear so why am I contributing to the upkeep of Clarkson and his motor vehicles via the BBC?

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
14th February 2011 - 22:06

2 Likes

TopGear is the TV equivalent of 'Lads Mag', it has so very little to do with real life. The only thing missing is scantily clad girlies. When was the last time they really, actually reviewed a car that the average BBC viewer could / would buy?

Alas, it's also a VERY big money spinner for the BBC who sell it round the world. So they'll pay Jessa and Co. to continue to be a cartoon series.. We DO take cartoons seriously, don't we? Yawn

DaveP's picture

posted by DaveP [467 posts]
16th February 2011 - 14:29

1 Like