In appreciation of Andrew Mitchell

Until a few days ago, I had no idea that Andrew Mitchell, the chief whip of the Conservative Party, rode a bike. I imagine that his experience of cycling is much the same as it is for anyone, involving a significant amount of pretending that, rather than riding a bike, you are in fact driving a car.

‘Pretend you’re a car’ is a pretty good description of the UK cycling experience, but not perfect. Whilst cyclists are expected to ride on (and pay for) roads designed exclusively around the requirements and limitations of motor vehicle traffic, expected to accept all the same responsibilities as operators of motor vehicles and obey rules, signs and traffic signals which exist in their current form (or in their entirety) because of motor vehicles, cyclists are routinely pilloried when they break the same rules which motorists routinely enjoy having a blind eye turned to, such as travelling on pavements & ignoring traffic signals.

Even when cyclists manage not to fall foul of this system and pull off a sufficiently convincing car impression, under certain circumstances, they may then find themselves taking flak for failing to pretend to be a pedestrian.

Andrew Mitchell may not have intended to become a martyr, he may even have just been a man who, after being forced to put on his best car impression just to go about his business, simply snapped when Police officers didn’t understand why he wanted them to open the huge motor vehicle security gate at Downing Street. Many people won’t understand the pressures which come with being forced to pretend you are something you are not, or may feel that his outburst was inappropriate. However, for highlighting the desperate need for a fair deal for cyclists, for dedicated infrastructure for cyclists here in the UK; Andrew Mitchell, I salute you.

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4 thoughts on “In appreciation of Andrew Mitchell

  1. Why would you do that? His arrogant, high-handed attitude has nothing to do with his being a cyclist – thank god – but does probably relate to his history as a Rugby public schoolboy, a former banker, and a member of the toff”s tendency in the modern tory party which seems to have difficulty hiding its disdain for the ordinary peeps.

    Needless to say, his behaviour has been ascribed to his being a cyclist, by drivel merchants such as Jan Etherington of the Telegraph, who has won this year’s Petronella Wyatt Award for balanced journalism, and a throwaway remark in the Indy which I am sure was far mroe about being witty about Tories than any real commenton cyclists.

    Have you ever heard anything to suggest that Mitchell supports improved facilities for users of bicycles? Did he attend the Westminster Hall debate on cycling? Is he a role model?

    In my view, one of the main advantage of a bicycle compared with a car (and there aren’t many, in terms of speed, convenience etc of use) is that you can actually get off and push along a pavement, through a traffic light (so that you remain legal – Crank v Brooks) and – yes – go more quickly through a side gate than having to wait for large wide gates to open. He wanted the big gates open because he is a big swining dick of the tory party, not because he cares a sh*t about the rights of cyclists.

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