It almost goes without saying that there’s a reason cyclists aren’t allowed to ride on motorways: being close to vehicles thundering by at 80mph isn’t exactly safe or fun. So you can imagine the surprise of the Surrey police officers this morning called to investigate reports of a cyclist riding on the M25 between junctions 12 and 13.
Just before 9am this morning, @SurreyRoadCops tweeted: “Currently awaiting a cyclist seen on the M25 between 12 & 13. CCTV watching him on the hard shoulder. Should be with me very soon.”
About 50 minutes later came the next instalment: “Cyclist stopped and after a long conversation he has been safely removed with his copy of his ticket for £50.”
It turns out the male rider — no other details have been released — was trying to find a quicker route home for his daily commute. He was using the GGPS mapping on his mobile phone to find his way.
“A male was looking for a shorter route to cycle home from work,” tweeted @SurreyRoadCops. “Phone app sent him on motorway so thought it ok.”
For this chap it seems, to nick a phrase from Douglas Adams, GPS apps are definitive; reality is frequently inaccurate.
@HushLegs pointed out that it was probably a genuine error.
“Genuine mistake I'm sure but could have stopped at bottom of slip road! Most children know not to stray onto a motorway,” @SurreyRoadCops said. “Nice chap but unaware of the rules of the road. Believed it ok to ride/walk on hard shoulder, struggled to see why not.”
With the rider out of harm’s way, the cycling Twitterati and the police saw the funny side.
@GavinCritchley tweeted: “Name? 'Wiggins'. First name? 'Bradley'.”
@SurreyRoadCops said: “No Sir Bradley would have been going faster than the cars.”
Roger Smith suggested the rider was “probably the quickest moving vehicle on that stretch.”
“Not today at that time,” @SurreyRoadCops “the opposite carriageway a different story.”
Despite the signs warning cyclists to stay off, riders do from time to time stray on to motorways. In March last year, police stopped a cyclist who was riding along the hard shoulder of the M5, and heading in the opposite direction to traffic. In June, police escorted a female cyclist off the M1 near Milton Keynes.
Perhaps the most celebrated instance of cyclists inadvertently ending up on a motorway came in 2002, when two members of the Kenya squad training for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester used the M61 to train.
Dressed in national kit, they spent three quarters of an hour riding along the hard shoulder before being stopped by police, who treated the episode as “a genuine mistake” on the riders’ part.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.