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Veteran broadcaster, and CTC President, suggests congestion charges in more urban centres, with constantly rising prices, is key to safety

The newsreader Jon Snow has attacked cyclists who “behave extremely badly” on the streets, ahead of a road safety conference in Glasgow this week.

Snow, who is President of the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) is chairing the Cycling Scotland Conference this Friday at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, discussing how national and local initiatives are helping to increase cycling.

But Snow, a keen cyclist who’s often seen riding to work in London, said he didn’t know a single cyclist who never jumped a red light.

He told Scotland on Sunday: “Cyclists could behave better. At the moment we behave extremely badly, and I don’t know if there are any cyclists who haven’t gone through a red light. You do not get that on the Continent.”

But, he added, separating cars from bikes, and discouraging drivers from urban centres by charging them to enter at peak times, could help improve safety.

“So many people are cycling, especially in urban areas, that a radical rethink is required,” he said.

“Further congestion charging needs to be introduced in every city in Britain to reduce the number of single-occupancy cars and make more space for cycling,” he said.

“The proof of congestion charging is in London, and if used properly, wise Scots would be foolish to reject it.”

John Lauder, director of Sustrans Scotland said: “In Europe, cyclists and car drivers are segregated for much of the time, which helps.”

But he spoke in support of Snow’s comments, saying: “As a noted cycling commuter using the streets of London on a daily basis he is in a good position to comment on high-quality and safe infrastructure for cycling, and also reducing the number of vehicles on city streets through congestion charging.

“Away from constructing and retro-fitting our streets there is much to commend a thorough investigation of congestion charging by local authorities and Transport Scotland.”

A spokeswoman for the Transport Scotland agency said: “Ministers have no plans to introduce road charging now or any time in the future.”

Glasgow City Council said: “The council’s transport policy does not currently include the introduction of congestion charging.

“The policy is, where possible, to use trip-end parking charges to manage demand and reduce commuting journeys to the city centre by private car.”

In 2010 we reported how the Daily Mail ran an article they say exposes CTC president Jon Snow as a serial rule-breaker during a three-mile bike ride from Channel 4 news HQ to his home.

The article, headlined Drivers beware: How news presenter Jon Snow flouts the rules of cycle safety, begins, “As figurehead of a society which represents the interests of Britain’s 20million cyclists, news presenter Jon Snow might be expected to set an example behind the handlebars.

“And indeed he does. A bad one.

“Despite being a vocal campaigner for cycle safety, the 62-year-old flouts the rules with astonishing regularity.”

A photographer at least must have followed the newsreader for the three-mile journey to his home – via a pub quiz – because the article then catalogues a series of transgressions, with supporting photos.

They include not stopping at red lights, riding on the pavement, failing to stop at a box junction to allow an oncoming ambulance to pass, failing to stop at a zebra crossing, and using his mobile while cycling – including apparently sending a text.

And in 2011 we reported comments from Snow, who blamed cyclist behaviour and deaths on poor infrastructure.

He said: “..if there were better provision for cyclists on the roads, there would be better behaviour. And if there was better behaviour, those rising numbers of deaths would be reversed.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

62 comments

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peterben [64 posts] 2 years ago
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I cycled in London for many years, it was always the quickest way to travel. I never jumped a red light, rode the wrong way down a one-way street or cycled on the pavement. I wouldn't do it in my car, I saw no reason to do it on a bike.

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pz1800 [24 posts] 2 years ago
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Two things:
Please don't call him a 'veteran' anything. Lazy style, just put his age in the story somewhere and we'll get the point that he's an old fart (too).
Secondly, the wine, the food and the weather may all be better 'on the continent', but in Switzerland where I live, cyclists jump lights the whole time. I don't, needless to say.
And thirdly - yes, better infrastructure will improve things for cyclists. But I do not believe that 'bad behaviour' leads to road deaths.

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Grizzerly [321 posts] 2 years ago
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I suspect that part of the reason for cyclists jumping red lights is the preponderance of 'clipless' pedals. When toeclips & straps were the norm, we rode in traffic with one strap slightly slackened. SPD & Look pedals don't provide that facility. As cycling has become 'trendy' there are many inexperienced and less competent cyclists, like Jon Snow, around. Sadly they are getting the rest of us a bad name.

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aslongasicycle [383 posts] 2 years ago
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Grizzerly wrote:

I suspect that part of the reason for cyclists jumping red lights is the preponderance of 'clipless' pedals. When toeclips & straps were the norm, we rode in traffic with one strap slightly slackened. SPD & Look pedals don't provide that facility. As cycling has become 'trendy' there are many inexperienced and less competent cyclists, like Jon Snow, around. Sadly they are getting the rest of us a bad name.

*Troll of the Week Award*  41

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eurotrash [88 posts] 2 years ago
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Well here's one cyclist he doesn't know, as I cycle in London daily and always stop at red lights - include the ones solely for peds when there are none waiting to cross. But to be fair a huge number do RLJ and it pisses me off. Depends on where the light is, if at a busy junction most if not all will stop, if at a ped crossing most will go through. ime.

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Argos74 [408 posts] 2 years ago
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< Rides in SPD shoes, and stops at red lights on commutes and leisure/fitness rides. So do most other cyclists I see around and about. And the odd RLJer, well, I just drop 'em on the next stretch. Hard.

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congokid [274 posts] 2 years ago
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Me, too. It's bad enough that Jon Snow tars every cyclist with the same brush, but for him to be named and shamed as a serial offender really takes the biscuit.

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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Thanks Jon for helping the cause. Not.

I thought you were the head of the CTC which promotes cycling rather as opposed to giving us a bad name.

I never jump red lights. I value and appreciate my mortality and do not want to become another statistic. I ride with clipless pedals and either do a track stand or put my foot down when I have to come to a halt.

As for segregated bike lanes - they just become glorified footpaths and routes for mobility scooters which makes them a no go for anyone who wants to ride their bike at a reasonable speed.

It would of been far better IMHO if he had commented on increasing driver & rider education (and he would not have been caught out).

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caaad10 [184 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm happy going through red lights, cycling the wrong way up one-way streets, cycling on the pavement or breaking 20mph speed limits ***if it is safe to do so*** I don't know why everyone gets so hot under the collar about it, relax a little, we're all different.

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Ush [723 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

I don’t know if there are any cyclists who haven’t gone through a red light. You do not get that on the Continent.”

I don't know any car drivers that haven't gone through a red light. I don't know any that don't routinely travel above the speed-limit. But somehow you don't hear the AA spokes people flagellating and excoriating motorists.

Hey... I know! John should get some media training!

Quote:

But, he added, separating cars from bikes,

That's the underlying agenda here: segregated infrastructure. In this case the line being pushed is "we're so bad.. save us from ourselves". Now, I'm not against appropriate segregated infrastructure, e.g. adding physically divided lanes along the side of high-speed dual carriageways, but that's not what's need for the majority of cyclists who travel in urban areas. There we need:
1) drivers confined to lower speeds; 2) less drivers (I'll give Snow points for this one); 3) cyclist training in proper road positioning; 4) the police actually enforcing the existing laws against anti-social behaviour by drivers and removing the large percentage of dangerous, aggresive incompetents from the road.

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Ush [723 posts] 2 years ago
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badback wrote:

I never jump red lights. I value and appreciate my mortality and do not want to become another statistic. I ride with clipless pedals and either do a track stand or put my foot down when I have to come to a halt.

I have "jumped" red lights twice in my life: at intersections where my bicycle was not being picked up by the sensors. In both cases there was no one else around. So I can be added to the list of vile evil-doers.

On the plus side, I do stop every time, out of common sense and courtesy for other road users. A couple of months earlier at an over-popular holiday lake I experienced a mixture of gratification/irritation/amusement when I stopped per-normal at a pedestrian crossing and heard the crossing people comment that "who'ld have thought it would be a cyclist" as they finally got to inch timidly out onto the zebra crossing.

badback wrote:

As for segregated bike lanes - they just become glorified footpaths and routes for mobility scooters which makes them a no go for anyone who wants to ride their bike at a reasonable speed.

I have rarely on a segregated bike path which doesn't make my ride uncomfortable and inconvenient.

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denzzz28 [29 posts] 2 years ago
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A lot of cyclist might not like this but I have to agree with Mr. Snow on this one.

first off, well done to those who respect the traffic rules and don't go through red lights, keep it up. I myself don't go through red lights but there are times when I mistakenly miss judge the timing of the amber to red but then again it happens very rarely

I cycle to work everyday and the amount of cyclist I see or witness beating or ignoring the red light happens (and im not exaggerating) every single day that I go to work. I am actually wearing a head cam and im in the process of making a video compilation of these cyclist going through red lights.

Of course there are plenty of cyclist stopping on reds but there's always one who will ignore it.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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No one cares what he thinks despite his apparent "self-appointed" status.

Is he working for tfl?

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Argos74 [408 posts] 2 years ago
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northstar wrote:

Is he working for the Daily Mail?

Fixed.

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Sara_H [58 posts] 2 years ago
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Whenever I see a cyclist on the pavement, I see a cyclist who has been let down by the infrastructure available to them.

I'm a 40 year old woman, a peculiarity among my friends and colleagues, the majority of whom want to cycle and admire me for being "brave" enough to do so, but they're afraid of traffic.

They also mostly consider me reckless for allowing my child to cycle on our roads.

Lets stop bickering among ourselves about this and campaign for safe infrastructure that encourages everyone age 5 - 95 to cycle without fear on our streets.

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nbrus [293 posts] 2 years ago
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Some of the so called red light jumping is cyclists anticipating the lights about to change to green and getting across the junction before the main traffic starts moving. Its much safer when you are first away from a junction as you are less likely to be mowed down by a vehicle trying to immediately overtake, or turning left right in front of you. I admit to jumping occasional red lights when its safer to do so (not often), and only when the light sequence is changing from pedestrian green signal to traffic green signal ... there are no cars moving and they can all see you clearly. You MUST be familiar with the light sequence and the junction, all traffic lanes clearly visible and the junction small. NEVER jump a light that is just changing to Red as other traffic may be anticipating the change and not notice you as you cross the junction. I know ... I'm going to get flamed for saying this, but those are the ONLY circumstances I have ever jumped Red. What is really required is a Green sequence for cyclists only, so that they can cross the junction ahead of other traffic.  1

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velophilia [39 posts] 2 years ago
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There are a few lights that I am forced to ignore. They don't work for cyclists. I'm too light for the pressure switch under the tarmac. So I wait until the coast is clear and then proceed. If they were out for the motorist, that is what they would do.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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The question shouldn't be, "is it safe for me to jump this red light". It should instead be, "is it fair to continue my anti-social behavour, when I know (deep down) that other cyclists will get the flak".

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sm [390 posts] 2 years ago
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Headline makes John Snow out to be a little more evil than he actually is.

Compare:

HEADLINE
"I don’t know a single one who doesn’t jump red lights"

ACTUAL QUOTE
"I don’t know if there are any cyclists who haven’t gone through a red light."

A small twist, but enough to increase the frothing at the mouth!

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Paul J [901 posts] 2 years ago
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If the red light is established to be defective (e.g. it's on a sensor and fails to pick up cyclists), then you may quite legitimately go through it. You treat it as you would an unsigned junction.

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Leodis [405 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't know one driver that hasnt jumped a red light.

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thegibdog [103 posts] 2 years ago
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sm wrote:

Headline makes John Snow out to be a little more evil than he actually is.

Compare:

HEADLINE
"I don’t know a single one who doesn’t jump red lights"

ACTUAL QUOTE
"I don’t know if there are any cyclists who haven’t gone through a red light."

A small twist, but enough to increase the frothing at the mouth!

Seems to be an increasingly common tactic at road.cc...

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Northernbike [229 posts] 2 years ago
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Jon Snow: Britain's answer to Ron Burgundy.

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Denis B [8 posts] 2 years ago
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I think you will find that traffic lights are actuated by magnetic induction loops buried in the asphalt. Some members of the Sudbury Cyclists Union, as in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada have successfully installed permanent magnets presumably near the bottom brackets of their bikes, which will actuate the traffic lights. There are articles on the internet regarding traffic light actuation. At one time in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, the City Board of Works placed small yellow plastic squares on the road surface to mark the location of the inductive loops to aid cyclists. They are quite often visible in the form of rectangular lines in the asphalt filled with tar or similar material. Try riding over them if no cars are around to actuate them.

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timbola [246 posts] 2 years ago
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Just like to add that I commute from Gloucestershire 4 days a week (train to Paddington, I hasten to add - not quite up to riding all the way) and I NEVER jump red lights, ALWAYS stop at zebra crossings and do NOT cycle the wrong way down one-way streets. I am not trying to be self-righteous (although I accept it may come across as such to some readers) - I just want to add another POSITIVE slant to the cycling statistics.
I would add that my son has just visited London for the weekend (without a bike) and spotted TWO cyclists jumping red lights and several shaking their heads in admonishment.
Statistically insignificant, I know, but hey, most statistics bandied about in the name of anti-cycling are much the same ...  22

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crazy-legs [796 posts] 2 years ago
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So based on various articles, comments in the media, press releases and so on, I think I've got it...

1) "Cyclists" can be considered as one group and basically identical, everyone from Sir Bradley down to that kid on a BMX who "nearly killed me". The actions of one can safely be applied to all. Should you see a cyclist RLJ-ing, it means they all do it.

2) Motorists can basically do no wrong and can usually be described in Government press releases as "hard-working" (or sometimes "hard pressed"). Should you see a motorist RLJ-ing, immediately visit Specsavers, you must have been mistaken and it was probably a very fat cyclist.

3) Where a motorist kills a cyclist, it's probably the fault of the no-good cyclist who doesn't pay road tax, probably wasn't wearing a helmet or hi-vis and by riding a bike was "asking for it" (note for editors - do not apply this logic to women walking home late at night who get raped, it doesn't work well).

4) Where a cyclist injures a pedestrian (or comes close to injuring them, or commits any sort of crime whatsoever), we can safely call for all cyclists to be licensed/insured/taxed/MOT'd/helmeted/shot*
*mix and match as applicable

5) If ever a sound bite is needed about "cyclists" (who are all one group remember), ask a celebrity, ideally catching them off guard. It helps if that celebrity is known to ride bikes or at least own one but this is not a requirement. Should the celebrity not come out with exactly the right response, misquote them until the response is what you want it to be.

I think that covers it - any more that I've missed?

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Colin Peyresourde [1752 posts] 2 years ago
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Hmmm. I think those that get hung up about us being 'a collective' are wasting their breath. People will stereotype loose collectives regardless of what you say so move on.

In respect to Snow, he's just saying 'let he that is without sin cast the first stone'. Basically as human beings we are born hypocrites. BUT that if we try to live a good life (I.e. We respect the laws of the road in the main) the world is a better place. A good lesson for a Sunday.

Incidentally went to the World Track Cycling today which was great fun. However I was pretty horrified at the mess Manchester had made of its roads with cycle lanes and tram lines. You'd only want to ride fatties up there.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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The last paragraph of the article sums it up largely.

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arfa [767 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 crazy legs and yes I do get fed up with the lazy stereotyping in the media. The bicycle in central London is primarily a means of transportation and little else but somehow we're all one tribe....

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Brooess [85 posts] 2 years ago
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Thanks Jon for encouraging the prejudice and bullying! You can take your guilt complex elsewhere.

This is the result of such comments:
I got beeped at today for not riding onto a roundabout, when there was a car coming in from the right and screamed at by someone for not 'getting out of the way, you're on a bike' + 2 close passes (less than a foot) when sitting in a right turn filter lane...

These people need re-educating, not supporting - their ill-informed prejudice is spoiling riding and putting off newer riders (and the growth which will make it safer).

I'd like to hear his estimate of how many people when they're driving have never broken a law. Bearing in mind a motor vehicle will cause much more damage than a bike when it hits something else e.g. a human body

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