Boris Johnson is an arsehole

If you want to show your anger to the Mayor and TfL, please join the Stop The Killing campaign, which is rapidly growing into a campaign to improve our roads for everyone, however they choose to get around.

Though this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you, I’ll say it anyway:

What a complete and utter turd the current Mayor of London is.

Allow me to explain why I feel this way.

People’s deaths are not a call-to-action for him, but an opportunity to distract the population from discussing the real issues.

Just when it seemed everyone was talking about how the roads are dangerously designed and how much better they could be, Boris sees that this is making himself look bad, so he throws a dead cat on the table.

I’ll allow the Mayor himself to describe the ‘dead cat’ manoeuvre:

“Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case.

“Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre described as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table’.

“Everyone will shout ‘Jeez, there’s a dead cat on the table!’

“In other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

And that is exactly what he has done by talking about people wearing headphones while riding bikes after being asked about the many recent deaths while cycling.

What an absolutely shitty, cynical, cold-hearted thing to do. Tarnish the names of the recently deceased to save his own political skin. Classy.

Suddenly, all the focus is on those bloody cyclists, endangering themselves and everyone around them. It’s almost as if they want to die!

Of course, Boris wants to make clear that he’s not accusing the recently deceased of cycling dangerously. Oh no, perish the thought! But then by launching into some bullshit about headphones, what’s the average person in the street meant to think? Of course people will put two and two together, and are now happily blaming the victims.

And now he’s got hundreds of police standing on street corners stopping Londoners on bikes and giving them dubious “advice“. What does this look like to Denise Driver and Barry Busrider? “Ah, thank goodness something’s being done about those bloody cyclists!”

Anyway, the point of this post is to show you that we can’t trust a word the Mayor says. Promises are made but then conveniently forgotten about. Today he’ll be your best friend, but when you look back in six months you’ll see that he was actually your worst enemy all along.

It’s hardly headline news that the original section of Cycle Superhighway 2 is well beyond crap. But I wanted to do a post comparing the Mayor’s rhetoric with the delivered reality, so that’s probably a good place to start.

All the quotes are from this 2009 press release announcing how great the Cycle Superhighways were going to be. I guess the lesson is not to believe anything that the Mayor says, his words are meaningless.

Boris Johnson quote: "The Cycle Superhighways show we are serious about delivering real, positive changes that will benefit us all." Below, a photo of cars parked on a Cycle Superhighway, and a bike rider forced outside.

The real, positive change here is visible below the cars on the left, clearly benefiting us all.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "On these routes the bicycle will dominate and that will be clear to all others using them." Below, a photo of Cycle Superhighway 2 in action. A large van is loading on the left, a taxi is driving on the Superhighway itself, and cars are queued in the outside lane. A lone cyclist squeezes between the van and taxi.

Clear as mud, that is.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "No longer will pedal power have to dance and dodge around petrol power." Below, a photo of a bike rider overtaking a stopped bus while cars pass on the right.

This one is so false it’s beyond parody.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Boris Johnson quote: "The bike is the best way to travel in this wonderful city of ours." Below, a photo of a closed bike lane, with no alternative route provided, only "dismount" signs

If you enjoy being made to feel like subhuman scum, that is.
(Photo: Mark Treasure)

 

Kulveer Ranger quote: "I'm sure these routes will prove a hugely welcome addition to London's cycling infrastructure." Below, a photo of a large cycling protest, flowers laid on the Cycle Superhighway to mark someone's death.

Far from being “hugely welcome” the Cycle Superhighways were so bad that they drew large protests after a series of deaths.
(Photo: Caroline Allen)

 

David Brown quote: "The routes will provide safe, fast and direct routes into central London." Below, a photo of the aftermath of a fatal accident, with police in addendance.

Transport for London continue to claim their Cycle Superhighways are safe, despite many near-identical fatal collisions.
(Photo: Martin Donkin)

 

 


I wasn’t the only one thinking this way: Two Wheels Good blog on victim blaming, Operation Safeway and the dead cat.

 

 

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Boris Johnson is an arsehole

  1. Eton is maybe only partly relevant, and a red herring (albeit dipped in cyclists’ blood), but it speaks volumes nonetheless. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/jul/17/comment.pressandpublishing

  2. Yes, about time that someone said what I think many of us have thought for a while. Boris is indeed an arsehole. All this pro-cycling stuff is just a smokescreen.

    I also strongly recommend following the link that Amsterdamize provides.

  3. Paul M

    I’m sure you’re absolutely right about the dead cat diversion – a device of coffin-nail apologist from down under Lynton Crosbie (who, unlike his predecessor Steve Hilton and, like the vast majority of his countrymen, is extremely unlikely ever to be seen on a bicycle).

    I once heard Johnson speak – well in his comfort zone, at the annual dinner of the British Venture Capital Association at the Park Lane Hotel. He spoke for about 15 minutes, apparently without notes. For 14 minutes and 30 seconds it just seemed like incoherent musings, a Joycean stream of consciousness, peppered with quotes from Ovid and Horace and stuff like that which I am sure didn’t feature in Finnegan’s Wake, and then in the last 30 seconds it all came together. Suddenly, every word he had rambled made sense. His message – fairly Eurosceptic and libertarian right – was anathema to me, but almost spellbinding.

    Whatever his failings – dishonesty, laziness, enthralment to powerful wealthy vested interests – he is not stupid.

    We need to remember that, and be prepared for more such misdirections as this campaign heats up.

  4. Malcolm Bass

    I agree with all you say and the problems are nationwide. The Department of Transport, Highways Agency and local councils all treat pedestrians and cyclist with utter contempt. Yet my e-petition (57306) to introduce the Dutch Transport Methodology here has two votes. Is anybody really bothered?

  5. Chris Juden

    Reason to be thankful: at least the cat didn’t used to live with a guy called Schroedinger!

  6. This is something I have known all along yet friends and others have tried to tell me that Johnson has made a commitment and we need to allow him time to roll out the plans.

    He is 18 months into his second term and for the rest of it, it is the absolute duty of all cyclist and pedestrian advocate to apply unrelenting pressure on him and TfL, and if nothing has been done come the next election then we all have to vote him out and only lend our support to candidates (both mayoral and assembly members) that are committed to Dutch style infrastructure planning and full accountability of TfL, with at least 2 representatives from cycling and pedestrian groups on their board.

    From Friday evening on, we need to bring the noise.

  7. pk

    whilst I’m coming on Friday and Boris is indeed an arsehole, I have to report that police walked behind me with my headphones on, no hiviz, no helmet, to tell the bus driver off next to me for being in the advanced stop line.

  8. …and you just gained another follower for your blog. Greetings from Leeds.

  9. Rachel Taylor

    He will tell you what you want to here to get your vote then go back on his word.

  10. Gert

    Although living in London for over 20 years, I’m originally from Holland. Cycling provisions in the Netherlands are excellent, to put it mildly, but we shouldn’t forget that it took a lot of public pressure to win the arguments for putting in place these safe cycling provisions. Boris’ ‘super highway’ for a cyclists is a joke; only relentless campaigning for better provisions will have impact.

  11. BazK

    This piece is a clear indication of the crap Boris as spouted in his term as Mayor, he his in deed an idiot. He thinks people will fall for is “dead cat on the table” ? he needs to think again. The only way he will get an inch of his credibility back is if he does something now, by admitting CS2 etc, is rubbish, it is not safe for cyclist, & ban HGV’s at peak time like in France, that & only that would be a start.

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