Home
Hackneyed stereotypes and death defying leaps of logic from Telegraph columnist

Well, it had to happen. The chief whip Andrew Mitchell's verbal abuse of a police officer for refusing to opening the Downing Street gates is not an indictment of his character but, of course, all down to the bike he was riding.

Who thinks so? Jan Etherington thinks so. In a similar vein to Richmond Magazine editor Richard Nye, Etherington seems only too pleased that she's been fed a line to re-ignite her hate of all things two-wheeled after the cycling love-in of the summer of 2012.

"We got rather fond of cyclists this summer. Bradley Wiggins, with his sideboards [sic], on his throne at Hampton Court, lovely Victoria Pendleton and those stoic girls who cycled through storms," she begins, before referencing the velodrome and revealing that she even thought about buying a bike herself, shock horror. But that all changed when Mitchell started swearing, we learn.

"Everyone loses their temper once in a while, but nobody loses their temper more often than a bike rider," she asserts, pausing to back up that claim with nothing other than her own prejudice.

From then on it's just a weary descent into the same old clichés and stereotypes that always get dragged out for phoned-in angry-of-suburbia pieces like this. Let's go through them again. We know, it's boring.

Cyclists are arrogant: "We are lesser mortals: they look down their noses, from their elevated position on those wince-inducing saddles, on us poor saps, munching cheeseburgers in our nice warm cars."

Cyclists are dangerous: "They have absolutely no spatial awareness of anything that isn’t passing them on two wheels... you’re likely to be knocked down by these neon Lycra louts… you’ll be overtaken by a hurricane of metal and luminous leggings careering past within inches of your elbows"

Cyclists are inconsiderate: "Swearing at us locals for daring to traverse our own roads at anything less than a sprint… too many cyclists think that being disguised as a lumpy glowworm means they can behave like spoilt brats"

Cyclists look stupid: "I think it’s the sheer embarrassment of the outfits they have to wear that makes many of these cyclists so bad-tempered. I’m sure they can hear the mocking laughter of onlookers whenever they whizz past, flashing their glistening, logo-strewn limbs"

All of this because of one person – one person, incidentally, who doesn't fit any of the stereotypes above – who called a police officer a pleb and happened to be on a bike at the time. Jan has an answer for that though, as she then turns her attention to the chief whip. He wasn't wearing a helmet, which is clearly a crime, but she suspects that "beneath his façade lurks a Lycra lout, squirming in a bodysuit of wasp yellow… No wonder Mitchell was in such a hurry to pedal off – it was before he turned green and split his trousers."

Etherington signs off with, "the Chief Whip punctured all the post-Olympian goodwill we felt towards cyclists, in one foul swoop," as if, firstly, she speaks for the nation and, secondly, she had any goodwill towards cyclists in the first place, which is clearly unlikely for all her protestations that she was on the cusp of getting on to two wheels herself.

It's a breathtaking leap of logic to conclude that the actions of one man - high profile or not - who wasn't let through a gate are the arbiter of a nation's feeling towards his mode of transport at that time.

We don't recall the same argument ever being used by Etherington of cars when Harriet Harman was prosecuted for crashing her car while talking on her mobile phone in 2009. After that incident a witness reported that Miss Harman wound down her window and said: "I'm Harriet Harman, you know where you can get me." This on top of a speeding fine in 2007, and a seven-day ban in 2003 for speeding at nearly 100mph on a motorway. Such behaviour should clearly, in Jan's eyes, negate any good feeling towards driving that may have been generated by the success of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. But on this topic she has been strangely silent. Or perhaps we missed her article.

For more on attitudes towards cyclists, read Cartlon Reid's excellent polemic: Why must cyclists behave before they get bike paths?

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

57 comments

Avatar
Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

She is a complete and utter tosser. Enough said.

Avatar
SevenHills [216 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Because of the Daily Telegraph article it's OK to hate Jan Etherington.

Avatar
mingmong [265 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

"Everyone loses their temper once in a while, but nobody loses their temper more often than a bike rider."

SWOOSH - There goes the sweeping statement.

Jan, you're deffinately testing my patience.  30

Avatar
LondonCalling [149 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Tune in to Radio2 now! Jeremy Vine just said "intolerance of cyclists" - so I'm guessing the lines at the BBC must be jammed already! Can't wait for the rants!  1

Avatar
therevokid [971 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

sigh .....  20

Avatar
John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Jan needn't worry. Judging by the pass I got from a bus last week, and the driving around me in yesterday's inclement weather, a large proportion of British drivers weren't waiting for an "ok".

Avatar
Stumps [3414 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Stupid cow i hope she gets piles and thats being polite.

Avatar
Comrade [213 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

It's all a load of bollox...however, I am a cyclist and a motorist, but guess what I hate most cyclists. The reason is because typically they (from what I've seen) do jump red lights, do ride on pavements, will insist on always riding abreast, hardly ever stop to let cars by on narrow lanes, very rarely indicate to turn and seldom return a greeting when you are cycling or running yourself. Thats just me though and my opinion!

I must admit though, cycling has made me a better motorist!

Avatar
andyp [1473 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

full marks to wiganwill for his comment...

Avatar
BigDummy [314 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Wowo. If I looked like that woman I'd not be basing my entire schtick around other people not looking too good.

Hey, at least she's funny though, right?

Avatar
LondonCalling [149 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

SHE'S ON RADIO 2 NOW!!!!

Avatar
koko56 [330 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

she's just trying to be trendy by trolling

Avatar
Nick T [970 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Bandwagon jumping pleb, glad she didn't get a bike or we'd have an article about how terrible all car drivers are after getting a close pass. And she would have been the first person ever to suffer that I'm sure, and would have explained her ordeal at length in her puff piece about it.

Avatar
allaction [14 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

If you heeded her rationale you'd hate all Germans because of Hitler, all people from Manchester because of the 'name withheld' lunatic gunman who murdered two police officers, all people from Glasgow because you were offended by Frankie Boyle, all people who work at Subway because you had a bad sarnie there one day, all people who ride the bus because a kid flagged you off one day.....

Avatar
joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

you can imagine the conflict - possibly coupled with a hot flush - that brought about this parasitic attempt at publicity; "well I can't hate him because he's a tory, or an upper class nob, or because he called the policeman a pleb - because we all know that they really are frightful commoners - so there must be something else I can get a slice of the action on... oh yes...!"

Avatar
Smudgersmith15 [11 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Ahem, the Highway Code states that you should not ride more than 2 abreast. Wow! A cyclist that knows the Highway Code. Whatever next??

Avatar
cleanthes [6 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Comrade wrote:

It's all a load of bollox...however, I am a cyclist and a motorist, but guess what I hate most cyclists. The reason is because typically they (from what I've seen) do jump red lights, do ride on pavements, will insist on always riding abreast, hardly ever stop to let cars by on narrow lanes, very rarely indicate to turn and seldom return a greeting when you are cycling or running yourself. Thats just me though and my opinion!

I must admit though, cycling has made me a better motorist!

Unfortunately it's not just you. It's people like you who make broad sweeping statements about how "they typically do..." and "they rarely...". Almost all the cyclists I ride with DON'T jump red lights, DO indicate clearly, DO say please and thankyou.

And yes, occasionally I'll ride abreast. It's legal, it's safer a lot of the time, and if I am in someone's way I'll get out of it as soon as it's safe to do so.

Many people on here are cyclists and drivers. The fact that any of us is a cyclist or a driver doesn't give us any right to start throwing around comments starting with "Most cyclists..." or "Most drivers..." in the same way you wouldn't start with "Most women..." or "Most Indians...". It's those sorts of statements in the hands of twatty journalists that end up leading to stereotypes and bad attitudes towards one group or another.

So unless you actually know and can speak for "Most cyclists", just shut up and concentrate on the improvements you're making on your driving.

Avatar
Dr_Lex [350 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Editor: "Jan, give me 2,000 words of your usual vitriole-laced prose, but tie it into something topical."
Jan: {thinks} Well, I don't like cyclists and I did read that Mr Mitchell was on a bike for Gategate... {/thinks}
"Give me ten mins, boss and I'll have a piece for you!"

Avatar
Smudgersmith15 [11 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Exactly!

Avatar
joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Smudgersmith15 wrote:

Ahem, the Highway Code states that you should not ride more than 2 abreast. Wow! A cyclist that knows the Highway Code. Whatever next??

Hi Jan, haven't you got tomorrows column to write? I heard everyone's got a bit fed up of all those newly smug disabled people know the olympics are over, maybe you can go and riff on that one dear.

Avatar
handlebarcam [793 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
The Failed Sitcom Writer and Part-time Hack wrote:

"I think it’s the sheer embarrassment of the outfits they have to wear that makes many of these cyclists so bad-tempered. I’m sure they can hear the mocking laughter of onlookers whenever they whizz past, flashing their glistening, logo-strewn limbs"

Glistening limbs? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Avatar
sporran [42 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Nicely put

Avatar
swldxer [84 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I read in The People on Sunday that he was once driving a 4x4 in his village trying to shoo an old woman out of his way as she was cycling along a country lane. Shame this was not a "typical 4x4 driver" piece but a rant about his arrogance, not his mode of transport.

Funny that.

Avatar
AlexStriplight [75 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I am a cyclist and a motorist, but guess what I hate most - motorists. The reason is because typically they (from what I've seen) do jump red lights or are 'amber gamblers', do stop on advance stop lines, will insist on always being at least 25% faster than the speed limit, hardly ever stop to let pedestrians/horses/dogs/aliens/cyclists by on narrow lanes, very rarely indicate to turn and seldom give you a smile when you are overtaking them. Thats just me though and my opinion!

I must admit though, being a motorist has made me a better cyclist!

Avatar
notfastenough [3715 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
andyp wrote:

full marks to wiganwill for his comment...

+10, absolutely spot on, I have pasted here because it's worth seeing:

"We got rather fond of people with disabilities this summer. Oscar Pistorius with his carbon legs, lovely Sarah Storey and those stoic girls who rode round in circles. They and their Paralympics colleagues brought home medals, with charm and cheerfulness, and changed our view of people with disabilities for the better. But then along bowled Abu Hamza and, with his petulant attempt to avoid extradition, reminded us all of Everything We Hate About People With Disabilities."

Anyway, for what it's worth there are currently 60 comments and a good 59 of them are telling her like it is.

Unfortunately she will likely consider this a good day's work for a professional troll.

Avatar
WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
handlebarcam wrote:
The Failed Sitcom Writer and Part-time Hack wrote:

"I think it’s the sheer embarrassment of the outfits they have to wear that makes many of these cyclists so bad-tempered. I’m sure they can hear the mocking laughter of onlookers whenever they whizz past, flashing their glistening, logo-strewn limbs"

Glistening limbs? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Talking of Shakespeare: it's 'fell swoop' not 'foul swoop' so she's a poor journalist as well as ill informed. I must get out more..

Avatar
Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Comrade wrote:

It's all a load of bollox...however, I am a cyclist and a motorist, but guess what I hate most cyclists. The reason is because typically they (from what I've seen) do jump red lights, do ride on pavements, will insist on always riding abreast, hardly ever stop to let cars by on narrow lanes, very rarely indicate to turn and seldom return a greeting when you are cycling or running yourself. Thats just me though and my opinion!

I must admit though, cycling has made me a better motorist!

"Hate..."

"Typically they..."

Oh dear.

Avatar
TheBigMong [212 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Looking at the picture it's not really surprising that only rotten things would come out of that mouth.  31

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2659 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Here we go again.

Who will complain to the PCC this time? Got stuff to do alas, otherwise I'd do it.

Avatar
Stumps [3414 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

Here we go again.

Who will complain to the PCC this time? Got stuff to do alas, otherwise I'd do it.

email already winging through the ether of cyberspace  19

Pages