Daily Mirror columnist gets on anti-cyclist bandwagon

Tony Parsons follows template of The Terrible Journalist's Guide to Writing an article about bicycles to the letter

by John Stevenson   September 30, 2012  

parsons.png

Formerly a “hip young gunslinger” covering punk rock at the New Musical Express, Daily Mirror columnist Tony Parsons has become the latest national newspaper writer to follow the terrible journalist’s guide to writing an article about bicycles and crank out an opinion piece full of the same old nonsense.

Shortly after Jan Etherington had a pop at cyclists in the Daily Telegraph, the 'As Easy As Riding A Bike' blog brilliantly lampooned her column with a how-to article on writing an anti-cycling piece.

Parsons has followed the template to the letter.

Step One, according the blog, is to hang your column on a recent news story involving a bike. Better if the bike is somehow central to the story, but as long as there's one in shot somewhere, just go for it. Here's Parsons right on script:

“There is an explanation for Andrew Mitchell’s sneering arrogance towards the police that has been overlooked – the creep rides a bicycle.”

On to Step Two, which is to say something positive about cycling, so you sound open-minded. Parsons writes:

“Don’t get me wrong – cycling is great. You help the planet, you keep fit...”

So far so good, right? But here it comes:

“... and, best of all, you are completely free to ignore the red stoplights that apply to all other road users.”

Groundwork laid that cyclists are bunch of dreadful lawbeakers, Parsons gambols off to Step Three, make it obvious that it is the use of the bicycle itself that has somehow precipitated the bad behaviour:

“As Mitchell would no doubt tell you, there is one set of rules for pedestrians and motorists but, conveniently, no set of rules for cyclists.”

He's in the home straight now, so all that remains is to trot out as many cliches about cyclists as possible.

Describing being missed by a cyclist who ran a pedestrian red light while he and his daughter and dog were crossing, Parsons describes cyclists as “moronic Lycra louts that, no matter where you live, you see every day of your life – riding on the pavement, ignoring red lights, screaming abuse at anyone who raises an objection.”

So that's “cyclists all wear Lycra”, “cyclists ride on the pavement”, “cyclists run red lights” and “cyclists are angry” all crammed into one sentence. A virtuoso moment in terrible journalists writing about cycling, we're sure you will agree.

To his credit, Parsons manages to come up with a new reason to hate cyclists. The “bargain basement Bradley Wiggins” who “nearly killed [his] family” (by, lest we forget, not actually riding his bike into them at all) “had the nerve to be wearing a helmet.”

Chapeau! The usual complaint is that cyclists have no regard for their own safety, so it's a truly inspired to complain about one who does.

Parsons then goes off on the political rant he actually wants to write , but not before dropping in this gem: “It would be illuminating to learn how many pedestrians are crippled or killed by cyclists every year.”

It would indeed be illuminating, because the answer is 'almost none', as even the tiniest bit of Googling would have revealed. Maybe Tony doesn't like Google either - we'll do the legwork for him. Last year according to the DfT's road casualty statistics (it's on page 133 Tony) two pedestrians were killed in single incident collisions with bicycles and 99 seriously injured - the figure includes collisions on pavements. That's two deaths and 99 serious injuries too many but as a comparison 393 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles last year and 4947 seriously injured..

Of course, if he'd had any facts, Parsons wouldn't have been able to lead into the terrible journalist's favourite cliché, that cyclists are all self-important: “The numbers must be mounting up – especially as cyclists become puffed up with post-Olympic self-importance.”

Glorious that isn't it? As a result of a few elite riders doing well, cyclists must have all started running down pedestrians.

Parsons wraps up with a final link between Mitchell's hissy fit and cyclists. “When he screamed swear words at innocent men and women from behind his little bike, he summed up everything that stinks about all those lousy cyclists.”

A nice combination of 'cyclists are angry' and 'cyclists are entitled' there, which is pretty remarkable coming from a man who was hired by Piers Morgan and whose job it is to be angry. But the plank in their own eye is always invisible to terrible journalists when they get desperate to fill this week's column and decide it's open season on cyclists.

65 user comments

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I thought Tony Parsons had died of insignificance during the 90's?

posted by herohirst [55 posts]
1st October 2012 - 12:00

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Coleman wrote:
zanf wrote:
alanjay16 wrote:
You know what is sad? - the amount of rows I have had with fellow "cyclists" who do jump red lights in London

One has to ask why you feel its necessary to argue with other people about their behaviour and that you feel its your responsibility to try and correct it?

Spot on. It's this collective guilt nonsense again.

Spot on it may be, but it's not Alan Jay's fault that we all seem to get lumped together into a single amorphous blob of law-breaking fools, and consequently get zero consideration from a minority of motorists. (Beamer driver on Sat morning, I'm looking at you, knobhead!)

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2890 posts]
1st October 2012 - 12:06

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zanf wrote:
alanjay16 wrote:
You know what is sad? - the amount of rows I have had with fellow "cyclists" who do jump red lights in London

One has to ask why you feel its necessary to argue with other people about their behaviour and that you feel its your responsibility to try and correct it?

Zanf - stop being a dick! It's all of our responsibility to try to behave well on a bike and not add fuel to the flames of cycle-phobia and distrust. And if you see someone doing something that so obviously endangers people's lives (to say nothing of giving us a bad reputation), then (in the same snotty voice you clearly had in mind when you wrote the above) 'one has to ask, don't YOU feel it's necessary to say or do something?

Or are you suggesting that actually there's no harm in running red lights, and each to their own, and live and let live etc?

You're being an idiot. And you know it. Cut the holier-than-thou crap out.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
1st October 2012 - 12:53

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zanf wrote:
One has to ask why you feel its necessary to argue with other people about their behaviour and that you feel its your responsibility to try and correct it?

I notice you didn't quote the next paragraph from Alan's post ...

alanjay16 wrote:
Having seen a RLJ getting hit and killed ...

Maybe he doesn't like watching people die? Just a guess. Rolling Eyes

posted by jsim72 [6 posts]
1st October 2012 - 12:54

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Another sad old man that needs to get a life.
Yawn

lesliejames's picture

posted by lesliejames [43 posts]
1st October 2012 - 13:05

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Yes, Tony's a tool, and I feel good about that rather than aggrieved. Well done for a nicely written piece John!

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [44 posts]
1st October 2012 - 13:11

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although I have only the vaguest awareness of who Tony Parsons I have to say I am completely outraged! I've decided to burn my house down, cancel my MP and write to the local newsagent to express both my contempt and disgust. After this I shall be orchestrating a social media campaign to highlight my outrageously contemptuous disgust and make sure that, by golly, someone somewhere does something about it.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [768 posts]
1st October 2012 - 13:58

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Lacticlegs wrote:
Zanf - stop being a dick! It's all of our responsibility to try to behave well on a bike and not add fuel to the flames of cycle-phobia and distrust. And if you see someone doing something that so obviously endangers people's lives (to say nothing of giving us a bad reputation), then (in the same snotty voice you clearly had in mind when you wrote the above) 'one has to ask, don't YOU feel it's necessary to say or do something?

Or are you suggesting that actually there's no harm in running red lights, and each to their own, and live and let live etc?

You're being an idiot. And you know it. Cut the holier-than-thou crap out.

Considering your immediate descent into an ad hominem attack, I'll say this:

Shut the fuck up!

Seeing as you cannot seem to grasp what I did write and miss out on some important parts yet insert your own, give your tired little excuse for a brain a rest. For instance, I never said:

Quote:
there's no harm in running red lights

So lay off the putting words where none existed and GTFO your high horse.

jsim72 wrote:
alanjay16 wrote:
Having seen a RLJ getting hit and killed ...

Maybe he doesn't like watching people die? Just a guess. Rolling Eyes

Are you implying that by not quoting that sentence that I do?

If people are going to jump red lights and risk their lives against a steel box hurtling across the same junction, then that is their choice. They are adults making their own decisions and its not for me to tell them what to do, whether I think that it puts me "as a cyclist" in a bad light in vehicular drivers eyes or not.

To begin doing so is no different to "getting into rows" with people about smoking, eating unhealthily, drinking excessively, pursuing dangerous sports, etc ad infinitum, as those activities kill more people each year than utility cycling does.

The best that you can do is advise, and some people do not take kindly to others doing even that. I have never known anyone to correct their behaviour because someone rowed with them. Its counter intuitive.

The fact of the matter is that RLJ is a bullshit smokescreen that continues to deflect attention away from the real issue and you all keep falling for it.

posted by zanf [418 posts]
1st October 2012 - 14:03

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Crap out of bed too.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [267 posts]
1st October 2012 - 14:33

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jugster wrote:
Tony Parsons putting the c in cretin. Plain Face

Putting the ars(e) in Parsons.

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [109 posts]
1st October 2012 - 14:57

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I wouldn't even use the mirror to wipe my arse with let alone read or look at a copy! Smug
But this parsons bloke can come and wipe my arse if he likes! Loser

'Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you'

livestrongnick's picture

posted by livestrongnick [1668 posts]
1st October 2012 - 15:05

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Stuff Parsons....Mail/Mirror all the same

posted by SuperG [51 posts]
1st October 2012 - 15:28

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zanf wrote:

jsim72 wrote:

alanjay16 wrote:

Having seen a RLJ getting hit and killed ...

Maybe he doesn't like watching people die? Just a guess. Rolling Eyes

Are you implying that by not quoting that sentence that I do?

No, that's just your paranoia. Devil

You asked why someone might get into rows about RLJ'ing. It seemed pretty obvious what the motivation was in the text you chose not quote.

Whatever you think about RLJers and what (if anything) we should do about it, you can sympathise with someone who has witnessed a death, surely?

posted by jsim72 [6 posts]
1st October 2012 - 15:30

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Parsons has always been a bedwetting little PR1CK, always will be!!

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [298 posts]
1st October 2012 - 15:46

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jsim72 wrote:
You asked why someone might get into rows about RLJ'ing. It seemed pretty obvious what the motivation was in the text you chose not quote.

Whatever you think about RLJers and what (if anything) we should do about it, you can sympathise with someone who has witnessed a death, surely?

My question was not about why he might be motivated to do *something* but why choose *that* particular course of action considering that confrontation, aggression and argument are "hugely successful" tools in correcting and modifying others behaviour.

posted by zanf [418 posts]
1st October 2012 - 16:16

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jimmyd wrote:
I think there does need to be a set of rules for cyclists - and we can ignore them just as motorist do. Never seen a motorist jump a red light!!!!

Not that I condone jumping lights, but some cyclists have no sense of self preservation. No lights at night, helmet or understanding of they way roads and drivers work.

Never seen a motorist jump a red light? I would imagine it's pretty dangerous to cycle with your eyes shut.

I see it every day. Not infrequently it's the car behind me that overtakes to go through the red light I stopped for.

posted by HKCambridge [107 posts]
1st October 2012 - 16:59

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That is the funniest and most astute comment ever made on Road.cc. Class!

posted by Dropped [32 posts]
1st October 2012 - 19:48

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Matt_S wrote:
Terrible article.

The Road.cc one that is. It makes reference to Parsons being a journalist, when he's clearly just a cunt.

Very funny

posted by Dropped [32 posts]
1st October 2012 - 22:15

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Matt_S wrote:
Terrible article.

The Road.cc one that is. It makes reference to Parsons being a journalist, when he's clearly just a cunt .

THIS ^^^

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [185 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 12:42

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zanf wrote:
Lacticlegs wrote:
Zanf - stop being a dick! It's all of our responsibility to try to behave well on a bike and not add fuel to the flames of cycle-phobia and distrust. And if you see someone doing something that so obviously endangers people's lives (to say nothing of giving us a bad reputation), then (in the same snotty voice you clearly had in mind when you wrote the above) 'one has to ask, don't YOU feel it's necessary to say or do something?

Or are you suggesting that actually there's no harm in running red lights, and each to their own, and live and let live etc?

You're being an idiot. And you know it. Cut the holier-than-thou crap out.

Considering your immediate descent into an ad hominem attack, I'll say this:

Shut the fuck up!

Seeing as you cannot seem to grasp what I did write and miss out on some important parts yet insert your own, give your tired little excuse for a brain a rest. For instance, I never said:

Quote:
there's no harm in running red lights

So lay off the putting words where none existed and GTFO your high horse.

jsim72 wrote:
alanjay16 wrote:
Having seen a RLJ getting hit and killed ...

Maybe he doesn't like watching people die? Just a guess. Rolling Eyes

Are you implying that by not quoting that sentence that I do?

If people are going to jump red lights and risk their lives against a steel box hurtling across the same junction, then that is their choice. They are adults making their own decisions and its not for me to tell them what to do, whether I think that it puts me "as a cyclist" in a bad light in vehicular drivers eyes or not.

To begin doing so is no different to "getting into rows" with people about smoking, eating unhealthily, drinking excessively, pursuing dangerous sports, etc ad infinitum, as those activities kill more people each year than utility cycling does.

The best that you can do is advise, and some people do not take kindly to others doing even that. I have never known anyone to correct their behaviour because someone rowed with them. Its counter intuitive.

The fact of the matter is that RLJ is a bullshit smokescreen that continues to deflect attention away from the real issue and you all keep falling for it.

Yeah, whatever Zanf. Running a red light can kill someone other than yourself. Excessive eating, drinking...yeah, sure - that's the same thing. Almost no difference...idiot.

As many people have pointed out - the first comment that you attacked gave a very good reason for trying to dissuade people from RLJ, but you chose to ignore it and make a fool of yourself. Still - as long as you're on here trying to defend the indefensible, pray tell us - what exactly is the real issue that we're all struggling to see behind the smokescreen?

Do so love it when someone like you teaches us a lesson we so richly deserve Wink

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
2nd October 2012 - 12:59

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Lacticlegs,
When you have nothing intelligent or of value to say, it is better to say nothing.

posted by Recumbenteer [142 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 17:44

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Matt_S wrote:
Terrible article.

The Road.cc one that is. It makes reference to Parsons being a journalist, when he's clearly just a cunt.

A genius put-down, and no mistake...

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [169 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 19:01

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Parsons is just another sad journalist who tries to create a stereotyped view of people, cyclists, whatever. It's because he hasn't the talent to make sensible comments. My advice to him is this:
Better to be be silent and be THOUGHT of as a fool, than to open one's mouth and have all DOUBT removed. Cool Hmmm, maybe a bit late for that!

posted by Bob McCall [14 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 20:01

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Lacticlegs, seeing as you cannot grasp the fundamentals of what I have said, and yet again repeat your incoherent ad hominem filled rambling attacks, let me make things very plain and simple for you:

Lacticlegs wrote:
As many people have pointed out....

Many???

I counted one person aside from yourself. That clearly is not many. Stop sensationalising what others say because it does nothing for your cause.

Lacticlegs wrote:
the first comment that you attacked gave a very good reason for trying to dissuade people from RLJ, but you chose to ignore it and make a fool of yourself.

Lets analyse your choice of language here and compare it with reality:

I did not in any conceivable interpretation of the word, "attack" alanjay16's comment. I asked him a question (which leads on to the next thing) about why he chose that particular approach in remonstrating with RLJ's, not why he chose to remonstrate with them at all. Again, you sensationalise and distort reality to fit with some bizarre, twisted representation of it that you seem to inhabit. All by yourself, Im guessing.

Lacticlegs wrote:
but you chose to ignore it and make a fool of yourself.

I did not chose to ignore it. I chose not to include it because it was not germane to the question. The only person making a fool of themselves here is you because instead of taking onboard what I had asked, thinking about it and possibly even contributing, you instead attack me with ad hominem insults, thinking that your snarly, sarcastic tone is really clever.

Lacticlegs wrote:
Yeah, whatever Zanf. Running a red light can kill someone other than yourself. Excessive eating, drinking...yeah, sure - that's the same thing. Almost no difference...idiot.

Again, you jump in with both feet and completely miss the whole basis of what I said and why I said it.

I made no such claim that RLJ was 'victimless' (Again, your invention). I was stating that I, nor anyone else, has the right to presume authority over others and tell them what to do, or how to behave.

Alanjay16 stated that he gets into rows with other cyclists for RLJ so therefore he has presumed authority over them. I wonder if he ever does the same with cars that RLJ? Does he chase them down on his bike, assume his authoritarian role and 'get into a row' in trying to correct their behaviour? Does he do the same when he is in his car, of both other drivers and cyclists?

I bet the answer to all of these is no and if it is yes, then I would suggest that alanjay16 has anger management issues.

My positon that I had stated was based along the same lines as 'presumed liability': If a cyclist wants to RLJ a junction and faces the risk of being hit by a car, then that is their prerogative, just as they can chose to overeat to the point of obesity, smoke themselves to asphyxiation or drink themselves until they have sclerosis of the liver and you cannot do a single thing about it (unless you have power of attorney). If they RLJ through a junction when pedestrians are crossing, as I said earlier:

Quote:
all manner of hell and fury will be rained down upon you.

Just because I chose cycling as my main mode of transport, that doesn't automatically make me 'one of the gang'; we are not some big club that owning a bicycle automatically makes you a member. Nor in turn does it make me directly responsible for how other cyclists behave, just as driving a car does not make every driver on the road directly responsible (and accountable) for every other drivers behaviour.

I am a road user. It is not defined by my mode of transport but merely because I am transporting myself.

It is remedial cliques like this that creates the 'us and them' divisions between cycles and vehicles that perpetuates the situation where ignorant journalists like Parsons write smarmy, spiteful articles like this.

And what you do Lacitclegs, is nothing but add to the problem.

posted by zanf [418 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 20:19

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An unpleasant fellow indeed. A couple of months ago he was spouting off in GQ about how men should always earn more than their female partners. The anti-cyclist bile does seem to be even weirder than usual, though.

P.S. His books are rubbish too, and his editors and publicists secretly loathe him.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1002 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 20:30

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It's a very lazy meme.
'Comedians' do it all the time. It has the happy combination of combining angry victimhood and a crowd-pleasing "Run the f*ckers over" punchline. - Because, under all anti-cyclist feeling is the basic fact that cyclists only live by the motorist deciding NOT to kill them.
Somehow, gleefully endorsing murder because "They're so smug" offends no-one. Except Cyclists, of course, because 'They can't take a joke'.
The KKK and the EDL have a very similar line with jokes about negroes but don't get such big audiences.
Thank you, Road Cc, for this article. I'm very reassured that it's been written.

posted by Phytoramediant [23 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 21:58

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His comment about him, his daughter, and his dog, nearly being killed by a cyclist, should be followed up.
Insist he gives us the time, date, and location, so we can see for ourselves on the security cameras.
That may be enough to get him sacked, although I doubt it.

Enjoy

posted by cisgil23 [45 posts]
4th October 2012 - 14:58

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jimmyd wrote:
I think there does need to be a set of rules for cyclists - and we can ignore them just as motorist do. Never seen a motorist jump a red light!!!!

Not that I condone jumping lights, but some cyclists have no sense of self preservation. No lights at night, helmet or understanding of they way roads and drivers work.


[[[[[[ JIMMYD---"No helmets" you say? Give it a rest! Are you not aware that there are far more drivers (and even more car-passengers) receiving serious head-injuries in traffic collisions, than there are cyclists getting injuries to THEIR heads. ERGO: You & your passengers need to get your skid-lids on....but I bet you won't. "No sense of self-preservation" indeed! ]]]]]]
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [267 posts]
4th October 2012 - 22:20

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I'd rather read the phone book than read the Daily Mirror, so consequently I have not had the dubious pleasure of even being aware of Tony Parsons' existence, much less reading any of his work.
It's been said that everybody needs someone who they can look down on, so, many thanks to road.cc for bringing his name to my attention.
As I'm a nondescript sort of guy whose major achievement in life has been being elected as president of one of the oldest cycling clubs in the land, I feel as though I have just grown a couple of inches in height.

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [39 posts]
28th June 2013 - 12:37

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Typical K Stand, always last to get involved....

posted by farrell [1247 posts]
28th June 2013 - 13:09

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