Jon Snow: cyclists ‘behave extremely badly’ and I don’t know a single one who hasn’t jumped a red light

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

by Sarah Barth   November 3, 2013  

Jon Snow crop

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.”

60 user comments

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Brooess wrote:
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

Yawn

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1059 posts]
4th November 2013 - 0:41

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Colin Peyresourde wrote:
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.

No. Why should we subscribe to a hive mind?

We're all individuals. Unless you're saying that you're happy to be the scapegoat for another's crime?

"Basically as human beings we are born hypocrites" is the most nonsensical nonsense I've seen written on here. It shows you have little to no understanding of psychological development and just wanted to say something grand and bold to make the comment look clever.

If Manchester has a problem - fight for better. In fact go out and see how other Euro nations do it.

Lastly - given that Snow was "exposed" (I use that term loosely as the papers failed to give much evidence) as a serial law breaker in your own estimation he should not have commented.

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posted by downfader [190 posts]
4th November 2013 - 8:33

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Paul J wrote:
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.

As noted in one of the other posts, traffic sensors work on a magnetic basis (not pressure). If you have a nice shiny carbon bike, there may not be enough metal content for the sensor to activate the signal. Not sure if that would qualify the signal as 'defective' or not in the eyes of plod Confused

posted by JeevesBath [86 posts]
4th November 2013 - 9:29

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I don't agree with anything snow has said, red light jumping, behaving badly, more congestion charging. All sounds very London centric, maybe he needs to look in the mirror before he speaks again and when talking about cyclists use I instead of we if it is him who behaves badly and jumps red lights.

posted by Charles_Hunter [71 posts]
4th November 2013 - 9:41

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downfader wrote:

"Basically as human beings we are born hypocrites" is the most nonsensical nonsense I've seen written on here. It shows you have little to no understanding of psychological development and just wanted to say something grand and bold to make the comment look clever.

Sounds exactly what you are trying to do. Especially with your last comment about Manchester ("If Manchester has a problem - fight for better"). So you've rather proved my point (or at least Jon Snow's/Jesus's point, which you again wilfully ignore) by being a hypocrite yourself. No one is perfect and we are all likely to have transgressed a law here and a law there. At least Snow is in a position to try and change things in Manchester and elsewhere.

And who ever said anything about a hive mind? You seem to fail to understand human psychology if you don't understand how human beings are naturally reductive about the world around them in order to understand it - stereotyping is effectively that. I'm not accepting guilt for anyone, but if you want to change the attitudes of 'non-cyclists' (to choose a reductive term, which also lumps people whom don't need their mind changing) I take personal responsibility for my actions to try to show that we are not all RLJ, that we can share the road safely and legally.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1059 posts]
4th November 2013 - 10:09

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I missed the piece in 2010 but funny how the Daily Mail used photographs instead of video to capture Jon Snow's breaches of traffic law. While it looks conclusive, none of it is. A still image shows no continuity. He could of been getting into a safe move-off position at the red lights and while crossing the solid white line on red is an offence lets be realistic here. He could of been anticipating green knowing the sequence and began to very slowly move off (something many vehicle drivers do) or he could have passed the light on green or amber (too close to stop) which then changed to red as as he passed. The pavement riding could be him preparing to dismount/mount, again something many cyclists do. This is the Daily Mail we are talking about.... nuff said.

back on track, a lot of what he says makes sense, but he's discredited himself by stereotyping the majority of cyclists as bad.

posted by Critchio [100 posts]
4th November 2013 - 10:38

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Cyclists going through red lights knowingly? Must be all those poor performing carbon wheels...another reason for the switch to disc brakes Smile

I blame cyclists addiction to kinetic energy...

posted by ronin [84 posts]
4th November 2013 - 10:58

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Of all people, Jon Snow should know how sensible comments can be taken out of context and used to twist the message. A simple change from "cyclists" to "some cyclists" or "many cyclists" would have made all the difference.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
4th November 2013 - 11:39

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Is there a definative description of a red light jumper?

1. Poor unfortuante sod who was not able to stop before crossing the white line as the lights change? That would be me on cold wet or carbon wheels, then!
2. The frustrated F1 driver setting off a touch early? Er, that might be me.
3. Or the absolute ****. Despite being to able to stop from 40mph, put the hand brake on and take the car out of gear. They sailled through the red light as if it wasn't there. Totally oblivious to the fact that traffic was having to stop to avoid them. Not once, not twice but three times.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [271 posts]
4th November 2013 - 13:10

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Jon Snow is absolutely correct with his comments Cool

the state of cyclists (whether experienced, novices or Boris Bikers) using the road in London is absolutely f*cking shocking!!

if anyone in authority ever bothered to do a proper clamp-down on cyclists ignoring road traffic safety, they'd net a huge amount in fixed penalty notices just in a single day, let alone a week.

Financial penalties are probably the only way to get the attention of these dim-witted individuals who put lives in danger with their arrogance and stupidity.

When I speak to many colleagues in the bike industry here in London, we are frustrated by this issue because it simply puts lives in danger, and gives a wealth of ammunition to the "anti cycling" brigade

The problem is that; when a large number of cyclists act like complete c*nts on the highway, why should pedestrians or motorists ever respect our law-given right to "use the highway" ? (which motorists do not have, they are granted an exemption through the vehicle and driver licensing scheme).

Watching a guy on a 'no logo' fixie jump the light and motor through pedestrians crossing on a green light, missing several by inches, does NO ONE any favours. When I then overtake this fool I will always give him a piece of my mind because he needs a proper education, and some humiliation is the first step to changing his attitude.

Funny thing is, the cyclists moaning about bad drivers are often the ones wearing fluro safety gear, flashing lights, sam brown belts, bells and whistles yet still jumping the lights or riding across pavement; I come into contact with too many of these people during my daily commute through London.

I am fed up with riding against idiots on bikes trying to squeeze between me, a taxi on my left and the right kerb on a one-way street in Covent Garden.

but, where are the Police? don't see them out there....just a majority of cyclists jumping red lights, riding onto the pavement around red lights, riding on the pavement as part of their regular ride, riding at light with no lights, riding against one-way traffic on one-way streets, etc.

please can someone film what is going on in London at the major junctions, and bring it to the attention of the authorities so we are just not relying on hear-say and recollections but have some hard evidence captured on film.

posted by hampstead_bandit [111 posts]
4th November 2013 - 15:39

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There was a comment a while ago on a related story from a Dutch traffic engineer who'd said (in response to a moan about British cyclists jumping lights) "then your infrastructure is wrong".

Basically implying that if you put in proper cycle-specific infrastructure (as opposed to the half hearted bollocks we get foisted on us at the moment) then cyclist won't feel the need to jump lights.

Now I admit that a lot of cyclists RLJ-ing are doing so out of pure selfishness and I acknowledge that there are differing degrees of RLJ from ploughing through regardless, scattering pedestrians in your wake to a cautious-edge-forward-and-go-if-clear. But there are also a number of cyclists who RLJ because it's safer (for them) and more convenient to other road users (ie getting out of the way of the F1 starting grid behind them). I put myself into the latter category.

But the point still remains that I shouldn't be *forced* into that, either by the bad design and layout of the road or because of the inconsiderate drivers behind who are going to try and drive through me as they race away from the lights.

And in answer to hampstead_bandit's trolling above...

Quote:
if anyone in authority ever bothered to do a proper clamp-down on cyclists ignoring road traffic safety, they'd net a huge amount in fixed penalty notices just in a single day, let alone a week.

Do that with drivers. You'd solve the National Debt inside of a week.

posted by crazy-legs [473 posts]
4th November 2013 - 17:12

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@crazy-legs

London has a great ANPR system which is linked into mobile Police patrol vehicles and also the 1000's of CCTV cameras on the streets; many of which sit conveniently on top of masts at traffic junctions (you can spot them if look above the traffic lights at many junctions).

If you speak to the Police (I used to work for them, and still have contacts within the Police both Met and BTP ) they catch a surprising amount by 'fishing' through the ANPR system, including offenders with outstanding warrants.

the problem with lawless cyclists?

motorized vehicles have V.I.N. (numberplates to the layman).

cyclists do not have any such identification, except for the Boris bikes which carry a frame I.D. on their chassis and vehicle number on the plastic fairings.

good luck tracking down a private bicycle with no V.I.N. Sad

posted by hampstead_bandit [111 posts]
4th November 2013 - 17:32

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hampstead_bandit wrote:
@crazy-legs

motorized vehicles have V.I.N. (numberplates to the layman).

cyclists do not have any such identification, except for the Boris bikes which carry a frame I.D. on their chassis and vehicle number on the plastic fairings.

good luck tracking down a private bicycle with no V.I.N. Sad

You need to check your facts with your Police mates

The VIN is the Vehicle Identification Number which is located on the top of the dashboard scuttle at the base of the windscreen, and in various other locations around a motor vehicle, you'd be hard pressed to get that with ANPR. Whilst the VRN, (see below) may change the VIN remains constant. Most bicycles have an equivalent which is the Serial Number normally to be found on the bottom bracket.

What you mean is the VRN, Vehicle Registration Number, which is displayed on the 'number plate'. Bicycles don't have an equivalent because the VRN is used to register the vehicle for vehicle excise duty which is not payable for bicycles.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [583 posts]
4th November 2013 - 18:04

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hampstead_bandit wrote:
@crazy-legs

London has a great ANPR system which is linked into mobile Police patrol vehicles and also the 1000's of CCTV cameras on the streets; many of which sit conveniently on top of masts at traffic junctions (you can spot them if look above the traffic lights at many junctions).

If you speak to the Police (I used to work for them, and still have contacts within the Police both Met and BTP ) they catch a surprising amount by 'fishing' through the ANPR system, including offenders with outstanding warrants.

the problem with lawless cyclists?

motorized vehicles have V.I.N. (numberplates to the layman).

cyclists do not have any such identification, except for the Boris bikes which carry a frame I.D. on their chassis and vehicle number on the plastic fairings.

good luck tracking down a private bicycle with no V.I.N. Sad

"Great ANPR"?

So why is London one of the highest rates for uninsured drivers in the UK?
Why aren't these drivers held more rigorously to account for speeding, illegal parking and running red lights?

Cyclists are held to account via FPNs in London. There are several operations each year now where hundreds are stopped by the Police, most are given FPN fines, but some do end up in court.

Don't judge the rest of the country by London. And even in London (I have visited many times) the majority still follow the law.

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posted by downfader [190 posts]
4th November 2013 - 18:09

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Colin Peyresourde wrote:
downfader wrote:

"Basically as human beings we are born hypocrites" is the most nonsensical nonsense I've seen written on here. It shows you have little to no understanding of psychological development and just wanted to say something grand and bold to make the comment look clever.

Sounds exactly what you are trying to do. Especially with your last comment about Manchester ("If Manchester has a problem - fight for better"). So you've rather proved my point (or at least Jon Snow's/Jesus's point, which you again wilfully ignore) by being a hypocrite yourself. No one is perfect and we are all likely to have transgressed a law here and a law there. At least Snow is in a position to try and change things in Manchester and elsewhere.

And who ever said anything about a hive mind? You seem to fail to understand human psychology if you don't understand how human beings are naturally reductive about the world around them in order to understand it - stereotyping is effectively that. I'm not accepting guilt for anyone, but if you want to change the attitudes of 'non-cyclists' (to choose a reductive term, which also lumps people whom don't need their mind changing) I take personal responsibility for my actions to try to show that we are not all RLJ, that we can share the road safely and legally.

"And who ever said anything about a hive mind?" you did. You assumed we all behave the same.

If you want to call me a hypocrite, fine. If you'd rather fight for better standards and legal protection then that would be much more effective than trolling like some brainwashed 10-cent'er.

Remember - what you and others see may not be the full picture. Look wider, read the studies, collect effective and unbiased evidence yourself, if you do not then you're also part of the problem and substantiating the preconceptions of noncyclists who look to confirm their own prejudices.

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posted by downfader [190 posts]
4th November 2013 - 18:15

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It's 6.00am on a quiet Sunday, on my way for a cycle in the country. Approach familiar set of lights, with clear view of junction, nothing on the road at all, and I continue through red. Who hasn't done that? If not, why not? Not exactly the crime of the century, and I can't see how that is anti-social either. Car drivers who don't cycle on the road will always hate cyclists, period. Get used to it, ride assertively, and with common sense.

posted by daddyELVIS [337 posts]
5th November 2013 - 2:32

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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.

Totally untrue. Maybe in Copenhagen or Amsterdam but I also know someone in the former who would never dream of driving drunk but cycles drunk fairly frequently. In most European cities, RLJ is as common as in the UK from my experience, the only difference is that in London, it can be significantly busier with far worse infrastructure so it's a bit more obvious.

posted by atlaz [152 posts]
5th November 2013 - 9:32

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Mmmm...let me think about this for a second...oh that's right, the only time I jump a red light is when the twit driving a motor vehicle right behind me has made no attempt to stop for it...so yes I have jumped the odd light over the years or risk being turned in to a bonnet ornament!!

OK, initial rant over and done with, but this has always been my caveat for over 30yrs...I will always stop at a red traffic light (delineating a road junction), with the caveat that the idiot driving the whatever behind me intends to do the same because sometimes there is no "escape lane" to hide in and the pavement is covered by metal barriers 4ft tall.

Yes Jon Snow is right, that there are far too many cyclists jumping red lights for any of us to be satisfied with BUT the one question that I fail to see or hear is why...??

Sometimes it is just about the arrogance of the cyclists concerned trying to never stop unless forced to do so but other times it can be that there is nowhere safe for a cyclist to start off from at the traffic lights because the design of the road is both crap and potentially unsafe...we've all seen them with traffic/speed calming width restrictions or going from two lanes in to one on the other side of the junction etc with no thought from the Highways Authority concerned. Sorry but until ALL Highways Authorities are actually charged with "proving" that their road designs are safe for cyclists prior to any construction work is carried out then these junctions will carry on being built and only when it is proved that they are unsafe will changes be made...after some cyclist (or even pedestrian) has been injured or even worse! So some jump red lights to reduce the risk of being run over from astern!

posted by Furry Mommy [32 posts]
5th November 2013 - 22:13

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bloody idiot.
as someone who should be promoting cycling why didnt he say
"i dont know a single motorist who hasnt jumped a red light"

(or, "i dont know a single motorist who hasnt squeezed through an amber light as it turned red)....

Feel the fear and do it anyway

hood's picture

posted by hood [111 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:57

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Leodis wrote:
I don't know one driver that hasnt jumped a red light.

EXACTLY!
Applause

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [111 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:58

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Hi to you all out there. Jon Snow certainly does not know me,so his statement of ... said he didn’t know a single cyclist who never jumped a red light.

Well Jon. I wish to introduce myself.

I have never jumped a Red Light on a bike,never never ever have I.
Why? Because I am not stupid and I value my life and my well-being more than the need to prove that I am a hero.

The cemetery is full of them.

Your ears are your rear end defenders,don't clutter them and stay safe.
Clutter them and possibly stay in hospital,or worse still!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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posted by TheCyclingRooster [14 posts]
7th November 2013 - 18:07

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Sharp contrast between the heading of the article here and the Mail article.

I don't believe the infrastructure argument. You could build all you want but first let's try and make the best of what's already there and exhausting the current possibilities.

The best solution is actually reducing cars on the road. Short of HGV or Trucks to transport goods there's little reason for a civilian to drive a car.

posted by dogcc [98 posts]
7th November 2013 - 18:27

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I've never jumped a red light, but I don't know Mr Snow either; both of these things I am quite proud about.

Mr Snow keep your opinions to yourself. At Wits End

I love the smell of cleats (mexican accent, you do the jokes)

posted by paulfrank [79 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:41

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Iam a cyclist and i've never jumped a red light, they are generally to high off the ground to get over, whereas i have vaulted a bollard.

Sorry, just thought i would add a bit of humour. D Oh

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2641 posts]
7th November 2013 - 22:35

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If I ran a red light at any point of my commute, I'd get hit by the traffic with right of way!

posted by robertoegg [5 posts]
8th November 2013 - 11:32

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Given that I've been cycling for at least 35 years including childhood, I can't say I've never jumped a red light.

posted by m0rjc [35 posts]
8th November 2013 - 13:11

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So which is the correct quote? Your headline

‘behave extremely badly and I don’t know a single one who hasn’t jumped a red light'

or the body of the text (also in quotation marks)

'and I don’t know if there are any cyclists who haven’t gone through a red light.'

The meanings and intonations are very different so perhaps this is just a case of journalists twisting things to get a reaction and provoke a load of comments.

British journalism is either in question, or is it interpretation of the English language?

MikeF

posted by msfergus [12 posts]
8th November 2013 - 19:38

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And on the continent have they had to resort to congestion charging to make cycling safer? Congestion charging or raising parking charges will cause more people to boycott town centres adding to the decline of the town centre economy as if it wasn't bad enough already.

Andy

posted by jazzdude [57 posts]
11th November 2013 - 0:33

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jazzdude wrote:
And on the continent have they had to resort to congestion charging to make cycling safer? Congestion charging or raising parking charges will cause more people to boycott town centres adding to the decline of the town centre economy as if it wasn't bad enough already.

So what you are saying is to congest the town centres even more till the places are completely deadlocked with parking and traffic. As if this will improve town centre economies.

posted by dogcc [98 posts]
11th November 2013 - 12:29

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The Markenlei Youtube channel, with dozens of videos about cycling in the Netherlands, includes a video where London cycling is observed from a Dutch cyclists' perspective.

It's here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LcADYelq6c

In it, he depicts a "typical London commuter" performing an RLJ on a bicycle, and comments it as an inevitable tactic necessary for the cyclist's own safety. Not a matter of laziness, lawlessness or impatience, but an inevitable consequence of a crap environment for people on bicycles.

I never jump red lights, but I have been run over a disturbingly large number of times by drivers, while cycling in a city centre (at least one of which was himself jumping a red light). I now wonder if I would have been rushed to hospital somewhat fewer times if I had selectively disobeyed the red light law?

posted by severs1966 [46 posts]
21st June 2014 - 21:52

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