Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, and the man in charge of enforcing road safety in the capital says he wouldnt ride a bike in London by choice and that many Londoners are forced on to two wheels by the cost of public transport..
Speaking to BBC Radio London, Sir Bernard said: “I’ve never been a big bike rider anyway but it seems to be that if you get it wrong, or the driver gets it wrong, the person that’s going to pay is the cyclist.
“It seems to me that there’s a lot of traffic and personally I wouldn’t (cycle). But of course some people don’t have the choice; economically it’s not easy you know.
“If you’ve got someone who can’t afford to take a car into the congestion zone - if they did, you can’t park it anyway. Some people, they’ve got limited money and they can’t pay for public transport. I understand why they take the choice. It wouldn’t be mine.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has often claimed that cycling has increased since he was elected in 2008, and taken the credit for that rise. But if Sir Bernard is right, that’s just a coincidence and the bigger incentive for cash-strapped Londoners is the saving in travel cost.
A zone 2 travel card costs £1,216 a year - more if you pay monthly because you don’t have that much cash kicking around - which makes a bike look like quite a bargain.
The commissioner’s comments feed in to the vigorous debate about the safety of London’s roads for cyclists after six cyclists have lost their lives in the capital this month.
After he was criticised for implying that the only reason people ride in London was that they’re skint, and that he wouldn’t choose to ride because it was too dangerous, Sir Bernard attempted to clarify his comments.
In a statement released this afternoon he said: “I was expressing a personal view as a non-cyclist and I would like to clarify my position.
“There is no doubt that despite the growth of cycling in London, it has got safer and its cost effectiveness and health benefits make it an attractive option for many people.
“Cycling is an important part of our city's transport system and the work the mayor and TFL have done to get people on their bikes as safely as possible is commendable.”
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is responsible for setting the fres on the capital's tube and bus network which have seen successive above inflation rises since his term in office began in 2008.
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 Farrelly, 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.