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Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe wades into cycling debate with comments on safety and the cost of public transport

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.

34 comments

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MrGear [87 posts] 2 years ago
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You could give me a Rolls Royce and pay for the fuel, but I would never drive it to work in Central London.

I'd take 2-wheels every time.

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VeloPeo [303 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

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.

No Mr Hogan-Howe, when I was working in London I rode cos

1) It was farking great
2) I got to work buzzing and wide awake
3) 8 miles took me 25 mins by bike, 45-50 mins by train/tube and over an hour to drive.

How do these people rise so far up the greasy pole?

This guy is also implicated in the Hillsborough cover up as well.....
http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/nov/18/hillsborough-bernard-hog...

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Ush [692 posts] 2 years ago
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In Holland it is not unusual for the chief execs of e.g. Shell to just ride: normally, for transport. Because driving a big fucking hydro-carbon burning vehicle doesn't make any sense unless you're hauling heavy loads.

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Mendip James [38 posts] 2 years ago
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The odd day when I have to travel by public transport is miserable, stuck standing on a bus in traffic inhaling everyone else's breath, or squashed on the tube in a tunnel everytime I do it I consider what a difference cycling to work could make to the lives of the people travelling in misery and paying for the priviledge! "It seems to me there is a lot of traffic" - yes well done Bernie that's the chief problem, hence trying to get more people on bikes, hence all the fuss when they keep getting killed, keep up. The various comments from people in power this week have been astonishing.  102

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah, yet another opinion from a non-cyclist in a position of authority, shortly followed by some uncomfortable condemnation, and bookended by a "clarification". These things happen, and I'm sure Sir Bernard is a decent chap who was put "on the spot" during an interview.

But what I'm slightly miffed about was when the Met Commissioner stated that, "If you get it wrong, or the driver gets it wrong, the person that's going to pay is the cyclist". Hardly an endorsement of the benefits of cycling in a city that's being crippled by the sheer weight of vehiclular traffic.

What he should have added, given the opportunity afforded him by the BBC today, is that the driver could also be paying dearly, ether financially, through a loss of licence, or even liberty, and that his force will be doing everything they can to catch the very people that are making London such a dangerous place to cycle.

Clearly, a policeman's lot, especially on the radio, is not a happy one.

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Anoxia [5 posts] 2 years ago
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@Ush

Its not just in the Netherlands. The CEO of Denmark's biggest company (Novo Nordisk) cycles everyday in Copenhagen.

http://www.babusinesslife.com/People/Interviews/Business-life-meets-Lars...

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Andy G [26 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

What he should have added, given the opportunity afforded him by the BBC today, is that the driver could also be paying dearly, ether financially, through a loss of licence, or even liberty, and that his force will be doing everything they can to catch the very people that are making London such a dangerous place to cycle.

No, no, no, don't be silly, you seem to be forgetting that this is Britain with a police/cps/justice system that evidently doesn't give a monkey's when cyclists get injured/killed. Chances are the motorist will be free to drive off into the sunset with only their conscience, if they have one, to hold them to account.

Far, far too many people in authority making stupid/ill-informed comments this week. We've a very, very long way to go.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 2 years ago
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VeloPeo wrote:
Quote:

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.

No Mr Hogan-Howe, when I was working in London I rode cos

1) It was farking great
2) I got to work buzzing and wide awake
3) 8 miles took me 25 mins by bike, 45-50 mins by train/tube and over an hour to drive.

How do these people rise so far up the greasy pole?

This guy is also implicated in the Hillsborough cover up as well.....
http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/nov/18/hillsborough-bernard-hog...

25mins for 8miles in London Traffic, Not bad. What's your PB for a 10?

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Argos74 [392 posts] 2 years ago
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Poor dear. Benefits of my regular commute:

* better physical and psychological health
* increased concentration levels at work
* less illness
* it's quicker

Bernie mate, it's not the money, it's the awesome. Borrow someone's bike for a few days to pootle around, even if it's just to cycle to church or the shop for a pint of milk and a paper. Before you know it you'll be looking at hills with a big smile and rummaging through Aldi for bargain kit.

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AWPeleton [3311 posts] 2 years ago
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I have a colleague who cycles 20 miles a day to work and back and has just come back from a 4 week course in London.

He was astounded at how busy the roads were with traffic but what equally shocked him was the standard of cycling in the city. He could not believe how bad some cyclists were but he accompanied this by saying it was nearly all courier type cyclists who were the problem.

No doubt there will be some who disagree because they cant see past their own tinted views.

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AWPeleton [3311 posts] 2 years ago
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As for Hogan-Howe he spoke the truth, it is dangerous and it does cost a lot of money to drive in London or get public transport.

Since when is speaking the truth a problem ? he has highlighted a problem thats been brought up numerous times on the forum "cycling in London is dangerous" and is basically on the side of the cyclist.

Oh yes i forgot, he's a cop and they are never right no matter what they do.

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KnightBiker [75 posts] 2 years ago
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I see the CEO of TomTom riding his bicycle in Amsterdam to work every now and then, together with his wife. I also have seen them joggin along the amstel river.  1 social minded people in.

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RPK [85 posts] 2 years ago
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Right, so apparently the only reason most people ride is because they're povo?

Reminds me of a line from Posh Nosh - "If you haven't got an Aga.... "

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VeloPeo [303 posts] 2 years ago
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Dog72 wrote:

25mins for 8miles in London Traffic, Not bad. What's your PB for a 10?

Dunno never TT'd - fortunately didn't go into central London so avoided worst of traffic. Islington to Docklands

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VeloPeo [303 posts] 2 years ago
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Dog72 wrote:

25mins for 8miles in London Traffic, Not bad. What's your PB for a 10?

Dunno never TT'd - fortunately didn't go into central London so avoided worst of traffic. Islington to Docklands

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Annabella [7 posts] 2 years ago
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Do these people who cycle in London wear helmets if not why not! im sure it would save some lifes, I think it should be made the law especially in London where the traffic is bad.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
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If he's that much of a wuss, then he's really not suited to being the head of the Met.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
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Annabella wrote:

Do these people who cycle in London wear helmets if not why not! im sure it would save some lifes, I think it should be made the law especially in London where the traffic is bad.

Some do, most don't. Most of the cycling fatalities in London are caused by major crush injuries and a bit of lightweight plastic on the bonce wouldn't do anything at all.

According to the statistics, motorcross body armour like us BMXers wear for racing would actually save more lives amongst London's cyclists. I haven't heard many suggesting that body armour should be a requirement for London cyclists though.

Most fatalities amongst car occupants are from head injuries, so maybe helmets should be worn by anyone in a car? If you want to set up a campaign for cyclists to have to wear body armour anr car occupants to wear helmets, be my guest.

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abovetheclouds [6 posts] 2 years ago
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It's weird watching Brits from here across the pond. The answer from the top cop to a very a real and obvious safety problem in London is that people should just stop riding their bikes? The response to someone getting smacked by a bus and getting angry is to haul the victim into court and punish him? What is it with you English?

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londonbrick [26 posts] 2 years ago
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Some people in London don't wear helmet, for numerous different reasons. Nonetheless, wearing any type of head gear would not change insufficient cycling infrastructure and some people's attitudes which actually are dangerous. I don't understand people being worried wether cyclist wear helmets while people are getting crushed by left turning skip lorries.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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London...built by capitalists for capilatists, the peasants are only servants. Commissioner says it all...he wouldn't cycle.
Defensive (not aggressive) cycling would sort it out

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congokid [263 posts] 2 years ago
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He evidently hasn't been acquainted with TfL's own research that suggests cyclists in London tend to be more affluent than average, so for them choosing to cycle isn't simply about cash.

Although it helps - I estimate that commuting to work in London by bike saved me on average £100 per month in public transport (not to mention gym fees), meaning that I had plenty of dosh spare for several holidays a year.

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congokid [263 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

I have a colleague ...

No doubt there will be some who disagree because they cant see past their own tinted views.

All you appear to have is a second hand account from someone who presumably doesn't post here...

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sean1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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From TfLs own statistics, in 2012 there were 14 cyclist fatalities and 657 serious cyclist casualties.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/casualties-in-greater-l...

Also in 2012 there were 69 pedestrian fatalities and 1054 serious pedestrian casualties.

So presumably Mr Hogan-How doesn't like walking in London either.

Motor-cyclists don't do too well either, 27 fatalities and 602 serious casualties.

So presumably Mr Hogan-How doesn't like riding motor-bikes.

Car drivers had 19 fatalities and 429 serious casualties.

So Mr Hogan-How also doesn't like driving cars in London?

Tipper trucks recorded no fatalities and only 10 serious casualties.

So based on this I assume Mr Hogan-How doesn't mind venturing out in a small armoured personnel carrier.

In case he didn't realise it, but his job is to enforce the law and not give out idiotic advice based on no experience or evidence.

His attitude that cycling is only done by the poor because they can't afford any other means of transport is a complete joke. He should look in the bike sheds in Canary Wharf.

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congokid [263 posts] 2 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:
Annabella wrote:

Do these people who cycle in London wear helmets if not why not! im sure it would save some lifes, I think it should be made the law especially in London where the traffic is bad.

Some do, most don't. Most of the cycling fatalities in London are caused by major crush injuries and a bit of lightweight plastic on the bonce wouldn't do anything at all.

I'm with you on the supposed efficacy of bike helmets, but in my experience most cyclists in London do wear helmets. I did my own little survey some years back on my morning commute (Chelsea to Holborn) and the figure I arrived at was about 80 per cent. I've not repeated it but I'd be confident saying that proportion has increased since then.

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IanW1968 [271 posts] 2 years ago
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Whenever one of our leaders, political or administration makes a statement it seem to reveal them as a bit of a cock.

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AWPeleton [3311 posts] 2 years ago
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congokid wrote:
stumps wrote:

I have a colleague ...

No doubt there will be some who disagree because they cant see past their own tinted views.

All you appear to have is a second hand account from someone who presumably doesn't post here...

No he does not post here, he uses his bike for transport only and does not get involved in the forums, but does that mean he is wrong ? or because he gave me an account does that mean i cant post it ? or are you insinuating that i'm lying ?

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FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 2 years ago
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He has a point.

The extortionate cost of the tube in particular was one major reason why I started cycling.

Cycling is not only much cheaper but also much faster and more reliable than the tube - and even walking is faster than the bus!

But the cost issue isn't about individual circumstances, it just reflects the fact that there simply isn't room for everyone to travel on the tube (yet alone to drive), hence its simply essential that a good proportion of commuters in particular use bikes (or walk). We simply chose to ration the limited resource of transport by means of price, but its always going to be a finite resource, however rich or poor individuals are.

I don't know why this obvious point seems to be so difficult for many to comprehend. If London is to function at all, it needs to make cycling safer and more pleasant because there's not enough room for everyone to drive or even cram onto the tube.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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You see crazy driving and crazy riding they're both as bad as each other.

As for helmets I wear one but I don't think it would do me much good if I was under a tipper truck.

Defensive riding works for me , and claim your space on the road . But l always work on the principle that motorists have not seen me and are likely to do something unpredictable or stupid ... without warning. so far I've not been Knocked off .

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