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PM urges drivers to “think carefully” around cyclists

Groups of cyclists taking to Britain’s country lanes have a powerful new ally. Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that he’s a “big fan” of the upsurge in cycling and urged motorists to “think carefully” about how they deal with groups of riders.

Popular riding areas such as Surrey and the New Forest have been a source of complaints from locals and motorists in recent years, as club and group cycling has boomed in popularity. But the PM says local drivers should learn to live with it.

On BBC Radio Surrey & Sussex’s Danny Pike programme yesterday, Mr Cameron was asked if he welcomed the influx of cycling on to Surrey’s roads. (The interview starts at about 2:36:00 and gets to cycling topics at about 2:41:00.)

He replied: “I’m a big fan of this cycling revolution taking place in Britain. In my constituency in Oxfordshire at the weekend you just see swarms of people in lycra on their bikes. We need to be a fitter, healthier country.”

And the PM seemed as pleased - and surprised - as many long-time cycling fans that British riders have won the Tour de France.

He said: “We need to encourage sport and competitive sport and cycling’s a great sport, and we’re very good at it. When I was little the idea of British people winning the Tour de France was unthinkable and now not only are we winning the Tour de France but we’re actually going to be hosting the start of it in Yorkshire in the coming year. I think it’s very exciting.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged that some drivers struggled to know what to do when they encounter a group of cyclists on the road.

He said: “Now look, it can be challenging for drivers when you have these pelotons weaving through the roads of Sussex and Surrey but I think we should be encouraging cycling and motorists have to think carefully about how to deal with a peloton.”

The increased popularity of sportive rides in Surrey and in particular the closed-road RideLondon 100 has led to a petition calling on Surrey County Council to restrict cycling events. That petition has reached 2,958 signatures. A later counter-petition in favour of riding in the county is now at 2,547.

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.