As far as the national media is concerned we appear to have entered open season on cycling, with the Daily Telegraph the latest organisation to join in the fun.
The newspaper gets its teeth into a health-and-safety-gone-mad style rant about guidance dossiers compiled by UK police forces to be used by officers on bikes.
Different forces have put together their own documents or are using a manual which was developed by the Metropolitan Police after the Association of Chief Police Officer dropped plans to develop a single manual following a previous round of media ridicule in 2009. We covered that story at the time.
There’s an element of damned-if-you-do…about the Telegraph article – the Daily Mail naturally does a spot of bandwagon jumping – given that in 2007 a 21-year old Wigan-based Police Community Support Officer died on a bicycle patrol when he was hit by a tipper truck.
The Telegraph and Mail articles deem nutritional advice for cycling officers worthy of note as well as tips on how to avoid saddle soreness, insect strikes and chapped lips.
It’s the kind of advice you might find in any cycle magazine article aimed at beginners and as such we’d consider it perfectly reasonable guidance for people not used to spending many hours a day in the saddle.
Some of the other advice quoted falls into the category of statutory requirements which place a duty of care on any employer, obliging them to set out the risks associated with any work-related activity.
Certainly some of it could seem obvious to even non-cyclists, but in an increasingly litigious society can we really blame employers for trying to cover as many scenarios as possible?
Clearly the Telegraph and the Mail think so, and trot out the waste-of-taxpayers’-money line, attempting to bolster their case with a couple of rent-a-quote contributions.
Despite their previous unflattering article about his maxing out of parliamentary expenses, Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford who also belongs to the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, provides the Telegraph with the requisite quote:
"This sounds like a complete waste of time and, most likely, money," he told the publication.
"I think most people learn the basics of riding a bike by the time they are seven and you tend not to forget."
Personally, I don’t recall, aged seven, being trained how to pursue a fleeing crim down a flight of steps, but perhaps I'm the exception.
Our new friends at the TaxPayers’ Alliance also chip in, feeding the Mail a line that they presumably adapt for whatever organisation happens to be in the firing line for one of their dead-sheep savagings.
The Alliance's Charlotte Linacre told the Mail: "Taxpayers want money spent on bobbies on the beat, not pointless bureaucracy."