Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, and the man in charge of enforcing road safety in the capital says he wouldnt ride a bike in London by choice and that many Londoners are forced on to two wheels by the cost of public transport..
Speaking to BBC Radio London, Sir Bernard said: “I’ve never been a big bike rider anyway but it seems to be that if you get it wrong, or the driver gets it wrong, the person that’s going to pay is the cyclist.
“It seems to me that there’s a lot of traffic and personally I wouldn’t (cycle). But of course some people don’t have the choice; economically it’s not easy you know.
“If you’ve got someone who can’t afford to take a car into the congestion zone - if they did, you can’t park it anyway. Some people, they’ve got limited money and they can’t pay for public transport. I understand why they take the choice. It wouldn’t be mine.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has often claimed that cycling has increased since he was elected in 2008, and taken the credit for that rise. But if Sir Bernard is right, that’s just a coincidence and the bigger incentive for cash-strapped Londoners is the saving in travel cost.
A zone 2 travel card costs £1,216 a year - more if you pay monthly because you don’t have that much cash kicking around - which makes a bike look like quite a bargain.
The commissioner’s comments feed in to the vigorous debate about the safety of London’s roads for cyclists after six cyclists have lost their lives in the capital this month.
After he was criticised for implying that the only reason people ride in London was that they’re skint, and that he wouldn’t choose to ride because it was too dangerous, Sir Bernard attempted to clarify his comments.
In a statement released this afternoon he said: “I was expressing a personal view as a non-cyclist and I would like to clarify my position.
“There is no doubt that despite the growth of cycling in London, it has got safer and its cost effectiveness and health benefits make it an attractive option for many people.
“Cycling is an important part of our city's transport system and the work the mayor and TFL have done to get people on their bikes as safely as possible is commendable.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is responsible for setting the fres on the capital's tube and bus network which have seen successive above inflation rises since his term in office began in 2008.
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.