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“You’ve yet again ignored cycles as mobility aids”: Former GB News producer called “ableist” after staging backlash over Hammersmith Bridge reopening to cyclists

Charlotte Gill claimed that London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman is turning the city into “CycleLand for himself and his cycle freak friends”

Former GB producer Charlotte Gill has become the centre of the latest social media row, after she was criticised for holding “ableist” views and ignoring cycles as a means of mobility aid following her disapproval of Hammersmith Bridge reopening for cyclists, with the city’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman also caught in the line of fire.

Hammersmith Bridge, which was closed off to motor traffic in April 2019 following the discovery of cracks in its pedestals, has been undergoing repair works to ensure structural safety for the last couple of years.

After being closed off to pedestrians and cyclists as well in August 2020, the bridge was reopened to people crossing over it on foot, meaning cyclists had to dismount and push their bikes along the footways flanking either side of the Grade II-listed structure.

However, recent high jinks thanks to a bunch of West Ham supporters on a boat led to an accident causing further significant damage to the already suffering structure, and a pause in the safety works. 

> Hammersmith Bridge to reopen to bike riders with two-way cycle lane – but only for 10 weeks

As a result, Hammersmith & Fulham Council decided to take advantage of the pause in works to put in place a two-way, three-metre-wide cycle lane in the centre of the bridge’s carriageway, marking it open for use by cyclists from this Tuesday, 13 February — but only for around 10 weeks.

The move has caused great joy and fervour in the London cycling community, with several community rides planned to take place this weekend in West London to mark the bridge’s reopening. Many cyclists have also shared images and videos of them riding on the bridge on social media as well.

Hammersmith Bridge on evening of full closure

Hammersmith Bridge on evening of full closure

Cyclist, campaigner and TV producer Carla Francome posted one such video on Twitter, saying: “I haven’t been on this bridge for years and it’s tiny! I can’t imagine cars on here… Well done to everyone who got this bridge open for cycles. Cycling and walking sounds just perfect to me!”

However, little did she know that the video of her having fun while riding on the bridge would elicit a strong backlash from none other than Charlotte Gill, a former producer at GB News, who took offence at cycleways popping up “all over London”, and as a result, putting the elderly, disabled and emergency services at a disadvantage.

> “Oh dear, can you imagine being a mum carting around children”: Bath’s bicycle mayor shuts down GB News producer’s claim that mums need cars

“This is what’s happening all over London,” she wrote. “Will Norman is turning it into CycleLand for himself and his cycle freak friends. Who cares about the elderly and people with mobility needs? I guess they can just hop on a unicycle. And forget the idea of emergency services getting past.”

However, cyclists were quick to point out that different forms of bikes can indeed, help those needing mobility aids, and that cycling infrastructure can be essential for elderly people using mobility scooters to get around.

Leo Gibbons said: “Good cycle infrastructure is great for people who use hand-operated tricycles or mobility scooters. And you’re much more likely to find older cyclists when there’s good infrastructure. Nearly a quarter of all trips made by Dutch over-65s are cycled.”

Gill was quick to dismiss the reply, saying: “Blah blah blah another young man who assumes everyone thinks the same as him.”

However, many other cyclists were also quick to point out the flaws in her argument. Paul Howarth wrote: “It's not open to general traffic because the bridge needs repairs costing approximately £300 million - so upwards nearly £2.5 million *per metre* just to allow cars to use it again. It might as well be open to cycles whilst they work out what to do about that astronomical cost.”

While Katy Rodda said: “You’ve yet again ignored cycles as mobility aids. Catch up. Also, age-related equality applies to young people, not just senior folk. If you actually cared about age-related discrimination you’d support safer travel environments for young people,” and Stefan added: “Elderly and people with mobility needs can also be cyclists or benefit from cycle infrastructure. Could you be any more ableist?”

Christopher Day also pointed out: “Hammersmith Bridge suffered major structural damage, mainly because it's a Victorian bridge that has been used for many decades by large amounts of heavy motorised traffic that it was never designed for.”

Charlotte Gill, has previously been the feature of a number of road.cc live blog spotlights, most recently, when she claimed to become the “pedestrian version of Jeremy Vine” and filmed rule-breaking cyclists. Her bold takeaway from the gimmick (titled ‘Chaz Cam’) was that the UK isn’t “ready for a cycling revolution”.

Before that, she came under fire for comparing the 20mph speed limits implemented in Wales, to cyclists requiring stabilisers. “I’ve noticed that a lot of cyclists have accidents. I think it’s time they all had stabilisers. It would make them and other people a lot safer. Therefore cyclists need stabilisers nationwide,” she wrote in response to Wales Online’s journalist outline why the 20mph limit was “a really good bit of policy”.

> “Perhaps cars should have great big beanbags taped to them, too?” GB News producer slammed for comparing 20mph speed limits to cyclists requiring stabilisers

In March, she was also behind bringing up an argument on Twitter in March that it’s mums who should stand up and oppose the dreaded Lycra lobby – because they can’t “cart around children” by bike, apparently – a claim swiftly shut down by loads of women posting pictures of them doing exactly the same activity, including Bath's bicycle mayor Saskia Heijltjes.

And just a little over a year ago, Gill penned an article for the conservative magazine The Critic, criticising a study on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – without actually addressing any of the study’s findings. Instead, the article was filled with a litany of anti-cycling lingo, including phrases such as: “All across the UK, a war is being waged against car drivers”, “a ‘Lycra Lobby’ of cycling activists and eco wonks”, “I don’t drive, enjoy cycling and probably have a relatively low carbon footprint”, “an assault on democracy”.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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26 comments

Avatar
Professor_Parnassus | 4 months ago
0 likes

"I guess they can just hop on a unicycle"

That inane comment tells you all you need to know about her level of intelligence

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cmedred | 4 months ago
1 like

Enough with the right-wing, left-wing nonsense. She's moto-wing, and there is a legion of them. Granted, some (though not all) left-wingers might act a little nicer after they dangerously close pass or actually hit you. But it doesn't seem to make their driving any better. Nor does it alter their views that roads are for cars and that the roads need to be widened and speeds increased to make it easier for them to get around in their cars.

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marmotte27 replied to cmedred | 4 months ago
5 likes

Absolutely not true, this is totally right-wing culture war territory. Branding something, anything, as left/woke and hitting it with what you've got, logic and reason not being an object: that's the typical right-wing mindset and tactic these days...
This is far more about politics than it is about traffic.

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chrisonabike replied to cmedred | 4 months ago
2 likes

No idea where she's coming from politically, I've no desire to add to the views of her stuff as it would seem mostly about publicity for her - because what's appeared here is low-fact / fact-free!

However there definitely is a strong thread of (alt-) right / libertarian / neo-con (and likely pop-con if they get going! ) / call it what you will that loves a tilt at active travel. I'd actually say "cheering the status quo" because some of these folks revel in thinking they're edgy, like teens having a flirt with some Nazi- style imagery.

OTOH in the UK most parties of "the left" are in a different way no more interested in active travel (and less so the closer they get to power, witness Labour currently).

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
3 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

No idea where she's coming from politically…

But she works for GBeebies (as Private Eye refers to it), so it's a pretty safe bet which political wing she tends toward.

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OldRidgeback | 4 months ago
14 likes

Charlotte Gill might do well to note my two disabled neighbours. One has long term health issues and tells me she is very pleased with her e-bike, as it's easier to zip around on than in her adapted vehicle. The other is paralysed from the waist down and uses a hand cycle with power assist. 

In any case, Hammersmith Bridge has structural issues and wouldn't be able to carry motor traffic, which is why it's restricted to pedestrian or cycle access only. Charlotte Gill sounds a bit of a dimwit if she didn't know that.

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NotNigel | 4 months ago
15 likes

'Blah blah blah another young man who assumes everyone thinks the same as him..'

...says the young lady posting her own opinions hoping to get some self gratification by assuming that others think the same as her..

Such a lazy comeback which says more about her than the original post.

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don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
14 likes

Why can't these rabid right whingers use terms that aren't derogatory or divisive?

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marmotte27 replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
12 likes

Answer's in your question.

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don simon fbpe replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
5 likes

 3

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Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
13 likes

....and she's got what she wanted by you repeating and broadcasting her inanities.   Block and move on, don't validate her. 

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wtjs | 4 months ago
17 likes

I am surprised people are both surprised and upset. GB News? Doesn't surprise me - this woman is the lowest of the low and the dimmest of the dim. Don't waste your time worrying about what this halfwit writes.

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marmotte27 replied to wtjs | 4 months ago
12 likes

Don't agree. This kind of right-wing hypocrisy - pretending to care about anyone or anything besides themselves, children, the disabled, the elderly, or even the planet... - to stymie anything even remotely progressive needs calling out at every turn. (It even happens on here, one aptly named rich_cb comes to mind.)

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
2 likes

On the last how you categorise people is your business.  And I can't speak for that poster (not knowing them apart from what they put here) plus I have been at odds with them on several things*.  However apparently they a) ride a bike b) have invested in reducing their carbon emission from heating and c) seem quite interested in animal welfare (can't recall if they're veggie / vegan).  Which would seem to indicate at least a passing interest in planetary welfare at odds with your reductive take **.

Obviously they could be making that all up.  And of course they could also be out defrauding pensioners or selling children's futures to the new AI gods...

* For one I don't share their devotion to the ideal of a "free market", not least because evidence for the existence of that is sketchy in a world of humans (prone to various follies, conspiracies, government regulation etc.).

** I say that - time back several of us had a go at a 2d political spectrum assessment and posted here and I think that on left-right dimension they were slightly to the right of the middle.  OTOH everyone else was waaay on the left around the Chairman Mao mark (IIRC apart from nigel trolling) so they were a bit of an outlier...

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marmotte27 replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
3 likes

Thanks for this your attitude on here, always calm, reasoned, facts to back you up, it's a pleasure to read you. You'd actually make a good politician, far better than me at any rate.

Let's agree to disagree about this poster, yes he's claimed all this in his postings, but the way in which he makes it about the individual, even when acting for the good of the planet, completely denying the systemic problems that may force even people who want to act right to actually do the opposite, still marks him as right as they come. He always shows he doesn't know what the common good actually is, and how it might be attained.

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
2 likes

Steady on - if I were balanced I might consume the like of GB News / Telegraph / social meejas to get the whole picture and I've no desire to do that!

Although it's all politics I *hope* that Frederick Douglass has it about right: "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

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marmotte27 replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like

Did the test on the political spectrum. No surprise, bottom left corner.
What surprises me is how Keir Starmer is pictured quite a bit further up to the right than Angela Merkel. I read the Guardian as much as the next man, so far he has stricken me as pretty neoliberal economically and lukewarm socially, but not really authoritarian.

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wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
1 like
chrisonabike wrote:

  OTOH everyone else was waaay on the left around the Chairman Mao mark (IIRC apart from nigel trolling) so they were a bit of an outlier...

A bit like some on the right pointing at Sunaks government and calling it socialist. It all depends where you are looking from.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 4 months ago
1 like

Yep - likely from eg. the US (all flavours) almost all UK parties / politics looks socialist / "big state". But then we also have an actual royal family (costing real money and with some real power) and a genuine class system (not solely based on "race"). They must think we're nuts.

None of that detracts from the opinion writer originally under discussion ignoring or flatly denying facts (actually ones not Trumpian "FACT"s) or bending logic for rhetorical purposes. No group has a monopoly on *that* but currently certain ones seem more enamoured of that style!

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Rich_cb replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
1 like

Please explain what planet friendly action I've tried to stymie?

You wouldn't engage in a personal attack with no basis in fact would you?

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marmotte27 replied to Rich_cb | 4 months ago
2 likes

Since you ask, I refer you to our last conversation (without much hope that you'll actually see the problem).
How much you want to take any of this personal depends on you.

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Rich_cb replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
0 likes

Nice bit of obfuscation.

Maybe clarify what problem you're referring to?

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Boopop | 4 months ago
9 likes

"Cycle freak friends"? She is unhinged

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Steve Garratt | 4 months ago
14 likes

I am just 70 and am classed as disabled following life changing injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1971, but I am still enjoying getting out on one of my bikes most days and still getting up to 5000 miles a year under my belt. When I got back on 2 wheels back in 1975, it was the best thing I ever did to speed up my lengthy recovery.

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chrisonabike | 4 months ago
8 likes

For Gonzo journalism I prefer Hunter S. Thompson. More entertaining and more accurate reporting.

EDIT also if you're just gonna go wild on an "opinion" for effect Donald Trump's style is better: despite the constant negative press covfefe

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Oldfatgit | 4 months ago
27 likes

Ahhh .... speaking as a cyclist who uses a cycle as a mobility aid - she should shut the fuck up.

She doesn't speak for me.

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