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Anti-cycling Dales councillor banned for drink driving

John Quinn claimed cyclists were "a law unto themselves", rode at 40-50mph knocked off wing mirror...

A Yorkshire local councillor who accused cyclists of being traffic menaces in the run up to the Tour de France has been banned from driving after being found to have almost twice the legal limit of breath alcohol.

Councillor John Andrew Quinn (Conservative) who represents the village of Embsay on Craven District Council claimed cyclists riding ahead of the Tour de France acted as “a law unto themselves”, rode through the village at 40 to 50mph and hinted they were responsible for knocking off car wing mirrors.

On June 29, Quinn stopped at the scene of a crash on Skipton Road, where a motorbike and side car had left the road, seriously injuring the rider, according to the Craven Herald.

Although Quinn was not involved in the crash, police speaking to him at the scene noticed alcohol on his breath, Skipton magistrates court heard.

Quinn tested positive for alcohol in a roadside breath test and at the police station was subsequently found to have 61 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

At a meeting of Craven Council’s select committee in 2013, Quinn claimed that cyclists were riding at speed through villages including Embsay and failing to stop at red lights, including at pelican crossings, and demanded to know what action police were taking against cyclists.

“They are a law unto themselves,” he said. “We have an elderly population in Embsay and we’ve had incidents where car wing mirrors have gone missing. Something needs to be done.”

Unusually for a local newspaper report, involving bicycles, the comments to the Craven Herald's article weren't full of the typical accusations of all cyclists breaking the law and how they shouldn't be on the road in the first place because they "don't pay road tax," a common misconception due to that tax being abolished in the 1930s.

Instead, the comments, including some from cyclists who appear to be neighbours of Councillor Quinn, highlighted logging trucks, cars and caravans as posing the greatest danger on Embsay's roads as well as being responsible for those broken wing mirrors, and also highlighted the imppossibility of cyclists riding through the village at between 40 and 50mph as he had claimed.

After an outcry from local cyclists, police and Craven District Council vowed to work with cycling groups

It turns out, then, that Quinn, who admitted drink-driving, himself poses a traffic hazard. The court heard that he had been entertaining at home before driving into Skipton to fill his Landrover Freelander with fuel for a business trip the next day.

He was banned from driving for 18 months, fined £420 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and victim surcharge of £42.

His ban will be reduced by 18 weeks if he completes a drink-drivers rehabilitation course by July next year.

John 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 Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for 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 before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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