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

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.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

65 comments

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JohnS [198 posts] 3 years ago
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Fortunately, it is well known that Tony Parsons is a pr@t.

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zanf [857 posts] 3 years ago
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Tony Parsons is still alive?

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Paul M [360 posts] 3 years ago
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zanf wrote:

Tony Parsons is still alive?

Well, you know what they say - "the lights are on, but there's nobody home"

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cavasta [216 posts] 3 years ago
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Tony who?

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Edgeley [369 posts] 3 years ago
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What an @r5e he is.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Totally worthless. Took a boat ride with the Sex Pistols, and built an entire career on it.

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FreudianSlit [10 posts] 3 years ago
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You mean Viz's Tony Parsehole?

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Stumps [3354 posts] 3 years ago
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I, for one, would gladly make him the round 100 in serious injuries  19

Mind you there is probably nothing left of his drug rotted brain to damage.  30

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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He used to be married to Julie Burchill. You would think this would be enough to feel pity for him. It is not however, and consider him a reactionary and untalented tw@

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alanjay16 [8 posts] 3 years ago
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You know what is sad? - the amount of rows I have had with fellow "cyclists" who do jump red lights in London - at times we are our own worse enemies and giving people easy targets.

Having seen a RLJ getting hit and killed first hand may affect my judgement but are we really in that much of a rush?

Sorry John but you just come across as a drama queen in this article and that is from someone who commutes from Chelmsford to London on a bike most days and sees both sides.

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londonplayer [620 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm almost beginning to get the impression that columnists know they will bring web traffic to their article if they slag off cyclists.

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badback [302 posts] 3 years ago
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Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

He's probably the pillock that always pulls out in front of me when on my bike, or stops bang up to the ASL or jumps amber lights in his motor, or steams past me and my mates that dare hold him up by 10 seconds on a Saturday morning whilst he's on the way to nowhere in particular.

Oh I forgot car drivers are whiter than white so it couldn't be him.

Lazy journalism by someone who cannot be bothered to write something of any relevance.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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Just another silly intolerant old man making sweeping general statements about a minority group while still thinking of himself as a leftie.

Still at least he's not flogging butter...

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MartyMcCann [240 posts] 3 years ago
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It does make a change to see a Parsons column that doesn't reference him taking speed with the Sex Pistols or what his dear ol' dad would have thought...he normally manages to jemmy these in somewhere...

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Matt_S [269 posts] 3 years ago
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Terrible article.

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

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jimmyd [110 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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james-o [235 posts] 3 years ago
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Well at least with having a dig at people on bikes ('All the bloody same' TM) it's a recent bandwagon. I think tabloid hacks have been generally disliked since they existed?

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 3 years ago
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Mr Parsons doesn't seem intelligent to realise that just because Mitchell is an arrogant, upper class twit, it doesn't necessarily that all other cyclists are.

I've read quite a bit of his output over the years and enjoyed some of it too. I'll make a point to avoid him in future.

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jugster [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Tony Parsons putting the c in cretin.  22

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belgravedave [269 posts] 3 years ago
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If you want to complain to the Mirror group it's mailbox [at] mirror.co.uk. I'm sending one to let them know I'm never buying another Mirror group publication, not that I do anyway.

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belgravedave [269 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh and leave a message on their fb page.

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alronald [58 posts] 3 years ago
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What a no66er

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PhilRuss [390 posts] 3 years ago
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That Tony Arsons.....clearly a case of Early-Onset Dementia. If not, he's just joined the Nasty Party.
P.R.

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PhilRuss [390 posts] 3 years ago
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[[[[ OY! PARSONS! You cun't call Andrew Mitchell a "cyclist"....how can he be, if he doesn't wear Lycra??
P.R.

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amawby [82 posts] 3 years ago
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There is a good reason why Parsons is the only newspaper columnist to get lampooned in Viz (of all magazines) as Tony Parsehole.

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Carlton Reid [132 posts] 3 years ago
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Actually, sounds like he's mellowed with age.

In 2002 he was one of the foaming-at-the-mouth columnists to complain about the possibility the UK might sign up to 'strict liability' (others were Clarkson and, oh, everyone else).

http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/motoring-lobby-furious-about-eu-plans-t...

Parsons wrote:

"Bicycles are for children...[they are] like masturbation - something you should grow out of. There is something seriously sick and stunted about grown men who want to ride a bike.

"If we cared anything at all about road safety, then we would tear up all the bicycle lanes today. We would order traffic wardens to nick any cyclists who jumps a red lights - all of them in other words.

"And if we truly cared about safety on our roads, then we would make a bonfire of all those stupid hats, all that hideous Lycra and every bicycle in the land."

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JD Cycles [4 posts] 3 years ago
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Just a mixer. Ignore him. Take the wind out of his sails and then that will move him on to tennis or some other `sport`.

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bobinski [236 posts] 3 years ago
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Look, just remember that Julie said he was crap in bed...

see, don't you all feel better now?

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zanf [857 posts] 3 years ago
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bobinski wrote:

Look, just remember that Julie said he was crap in bed...

see, don't you all feel better now?

They seem quite well matched as shes quite an odious one as well.

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zanf [857 posts] 3 years ago
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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?

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