The head of London's largest taxi driver organisation, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), says cycling campaigners who responded to the LTDA's opposition to new London cycleways are "almost the sort of Isis of London" and "loonies".
Comparing cyclists to the jihadist organisation responsible for ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and beheading and burning alive its victims, LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara told LBC radio: "These people, the zealots of the cycling world, are unbelievable. We have had cyber attacks on our websites. They are all over us like a cheap suit on Twitter and social media. We have had physical threats of violence. You name it, we have had it. It’s absolutely unreal.
“The loonies out there in the cycling world, they’re almost the sort of Isis of London. Their views and their politics – if you are not with them, and we are with the majority of it, then nothing is too bad for you. These people are unreal."
McNamara was talking to LBC about the new central London cycleways, dubbed the east-west and north-south cycle superhighways, which were approved by the board of Transport for London yesterday. The LTDA has threatened to call for a judicial review of the cycleways, because it doesn't like the routing of the east-west scheme along the north bank of the Thames.
In 2013, the LTDA used footage from a carefully-chosen junction to allege that 50 per cent of cyclists jump red lights, a finding completely at odds with more rigorous academic studies that have found the rate of red-light jumping of drivers and cyclists is about the same.
It's not hard to find examples of intimidation and attacks by taxi drivers against cyclists.
When news of McNamara's latest rant hit Twitter, road.cc product reviewer, Mike Stead supplied this story:
— Mike Stead (@tweetymike) February 5, 2015
And if you want video evidence of the danger taxis frequently present to cyclists on the streets of London, here's helmet cammer CycleGaz' compilation of incidents:
McNamara later appeared to back down from his comments to LBC, before more or less repeating the allegation that cyclists were like ISIS.
He told Evening Standard journalist Ross Lydall: “Perhaps I would accept that was a bit strong. It was a live interview. I have had death threats. They say, ‘I hope people you know die screaming of cancer’. I’m convinced that if 99 per cent of cyclists knew some of the stuff we had received after expresing legitimate concerns, they would be horrified.
“I’m not going to be intimidated. I don’t take them seriously. We have not reported anything to the police because I don’t think there is anything in them. I think it’s just a few loonies, but they really have got a sort of religious zeal.
“Perhaps that was a bit strong [to compare them to Isis] but I can’t think of a single other movement in the world at the moment that behaves in such a vitriolic and aggressive manner.”
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 CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder 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. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.