I want to complain about the appalling standards of journalism in your “opinion” piece on cyclists. Do you do no fact checking or editorial checking of pieces you publish?
Your article opens with an inflammatory, divisive and discriminatory generalisation which seems calculated to increase ill feeling between road users.
You then quote a man who has been discredited as a hateful person who encourages his employees to break the law. He was forced to back down from encouraging dangerous driving by the high court.
You then make a number of factual errors.
There has been no road tax since 1937. Roads are paid for by local and general taxation so cyclists pay just as much for the roads as drivers do - but cause far less damage to them.
Riding two-abreast is perfectly legal, and is often advised as the safest way to ride, like “taking the lane”, as it prevents drivers from squeezing past where there is not enough space to do so.
Riding two-abreast is not inherently dangerous, and the cyclists have as much right to use the road as your columnist. If they were there first, then they have right of way, and she has a duty to treat them with care and respect. The only danger in the situation she describes is from an impatient driver who thinks they own the road and have a right to get past everyone else to get to their destination as quickly as possible.
If there were a road tax it would have to be much higher - 2006 estimates of the costs of motoring (to society, not including the obvious costs to the motorists themselves) in the UK were £70-£95b/year, but in ‘09 the total tax received from motoring was only £48b. So motorists are subsidised by non-motorist taxpayers.
Cycle licensing and plating has been tried many times before across the world, but is generally regarded as too expensive and ineffective to be implemented.
You have a duty of care to ensure that you follow the editor’s code of practice and I request that you print a retraction of your factual errors and an apology to all the law-abiding cyclists who you have tainted, and whom you have put in danger by fuelling hostility towards them.
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Weather for Clitheroe
Tuesday 21 May 2013
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