Bob Geldof has accused former Mayor of London Boris Johnson of “clogging up” the capital’s streets as a result of the Cycle Superhighways that he initiated, describing them as a “ludicrous vanity project.”
The pop star turned activist made his comments during Wednesday’s bizarre scenes on the Thames when he and UKIP leader Nigel Farage led rival flotillas on the Thames just eight days before next week’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
Farage, like Johnson, is one of the figureheads of the Leave campaign, while Geldof was accompanied on his boat by fellow Remain supporters including the ex-mayor’s sister, Rachel Johnson.
BikeBiz executive editor and cycling author Carlton Reid was alerted to the comments, made in an interview a Mirror journalist conducted on board the vessel with the Boomtown Rats singer and Band Aid co-founder, by road safety campaigners Cosain Galway.
Geldof, who has homes in London and Kent, told the Mirror’s Mikey Smith that Johnson had “clogged up the streets of London by building this ludicrous vanity bicycle project,” adding that he thought the Cycle Superhighways were "ridiculous."
You could be forgiven for thinking that Geldof might have welcomed safe infrastructure for cyclists in London, given these photographs of him riding on the pavement in Sloane Street, although he’s been known to cycle on the road near his Chelsea home, too.
Tuesday’s so-called ‘Battle of the Thames’ was ostensibly about the insistence of each camp that it is the best one for Britain’s fishermen.
With the boats within shouting distance of each other, Geldof branded Farage, who attended just one meeting out of 42 of the EU’s Fisheries Committee when he sat on it, a “fraud” and made a ‘wanker’ gesture at him.
The Huffington Post quoted the UKIP leader as retorting: “The guy has got a big mouth, he was a crap pop star and he’s not even British as far as I understand, he’s from the Irish Republic, he hasn’t got a say in the matter.”
In fact, like any Irish citizen who is resident in the UK, Geldof – whose charity work led to him being awarded an honorary knighthood – is entitled to vote next week, and is urging those of his compatriots who are likewise eligible to vote Remain.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.