Come ride with me Phil

Oh dear. The already low expectations of our new transport secretary sank further yesterday when, in an interview with the Evening Standard, Philip Hammond said that cycling in London appeared to be extremely dangerous and he would not contemplate it even though he lives barely a couple of miles away from the Department.

Hammond says he drives a Jaguar which is the ‘Greenest’ in its range but the good news is that at least he never watches his namesake Richard on Top Gear. He said that he had longed to be Transport Secretary every time he had been stuck in a traffic jam in order to sort out congestion problems, but admitted that its not as ‘straightforward’ as he imagined. Oh really.

Moreover, he also revealed that he is not keen on Shank’s Pony either since he found the ten minute walk between his office and Parliament ‘a hoof’.  He confessed: ‘I’ve never actually cycled in London .I’d have to take a deep breath. I think you need to know what you are doing to cycle in London. Cyclists need to be more aware of the risks around them. It frightens me to death when I see them pull out around other cyclists, completely unaware there is a car behind. Maybe they need wing mirrors”.Despite his lack of experience of cycling in London he was not convinced of the logic of Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists, but reckoned separating cyclists from the traffic as much as possible was the way forward.. Well, Phil, jump on your bike and come for a ride with me around the West End on a busy Friday evening and I will show you how its done and why any facilities for cyclists are a great boon. And, no, we do not need to be separated from the traffic, car drivers must recognise the needs of more vulnerable road users.

  • Ian Raymond

    Perhaps he should watch his namesake – at least the other Hammond is known to enjoy cycling, despite being alongside Clarkson!

  • Dan

    Pretty pathetic – maybe we can hope Boris and Dave C will take him to task on this one. We’re clearly back in the era of Ministers with an unimpressive grasp of the issues.

    Other comments about variable speed limits (eg at night) seem to be informed by his own personal experience. Quiet nights of course being just when an unsuspecting punter turns out of a side road, or a person going home on foot after one too many beers in the local decides to cross the road without looking carefully enough. This is what speed limits are for, not to restrict top speed for the heck of it.

    “The minister even owned up to having three points on his licence for speeding at 62mph on a 50mph stretch of the A3 on a quiet night heading home to his Runnymede constituency.”

  • The sign that he believes keeping bicycles and other road traffic separate is a sure sign that he’s not done any road cycling at all.

    Separating bicycles from the traffic merely means that, not being on the road, the cyclists disappear from a motorist’s radar completely, right up until the point when the two come into conflict. Painfully.

  • Dean

    So what you are saying is that if he doesn’t cycle to work, he doesn’t deserve to be transport secretary?

    Honestly, I’ve never heard so much tripe in my life.

    Question:- Does segregating cycles from traffic work in Holland? Does segregating cycles from traffic in Düsseldorf work?


    Face facts health nut liberals, YOU ARE IN THE MINORITY.

    Has it ever occurred to people that the reason why most people don’t cycle is that England has lots of hills? Is it any wonder that cycling is so popular in Cambridge and the Netherlands and Düsseldorf?

    Cyclists really need to get off their high horses. I enjoy cycling, but not to work. I enjoy the air conditioned luxury that is my car. During that time on the way to work, I can enjoy the rolling countryside, the handling and speed of my car, the excellent music in my great stereo that I can sing along to, I can have a coffee, a cigarette, all from the comfort of my car.

    Do you still not get why people use cars and not bikes?????

  • Dan

    Nope Dean – I’m saying that a lack of grasp of key transport issues, of whatever mode, diminishes his fitness for the job.

    Like nearly all people I use foot, bike, bus, tram, train, plane or one of my two cars to get about – whatever is fit for purpose at the time and for the journey. Does not make me a health nut liberal (I never choose the healthy option when I can have a fry up, never cycle FOR health, but recognise it’s health giving benefits – certainly never considered myself liberal either).

    Face the facts ILL HEALTH AUTHORITARIANS : there’s no more room for your cars.

  • RapidAssistant

    Personally I wouldn’t worry about Hammond – if history is any teacher, the first encumbent of the transport secretary in a new government usually doesn’t last long. Take heart – who remember’s Gavin Strang?

  • David

    Its good to see that Norman Baker has a job in transport; just a shame that Hammond is responsible for High Speed Rail and Villiers for all other rail related matters.

    But – as Baker is responsible for local and regional transport (as well as buses, taxis, walking and CYCLING) – will that give him some rail responsibilities? And will it give him the opportunity to push forward the Lib-Dem pre-election proposals for English local authorities to lead on re-openings such as Skipton-Colne and Lewes-Uckfield?

  • dean (uncovered)

    So what if he doesn’t cycle to work – why should he understand the 21st century’s most significant mode of transport to be transport secretary?

    Honestly, I’ve never heard so much tripe in my life.

    Question: Have enlightened countries like Holland stopped encouraging car use? Have cities like Dusseldorf stopped building roads endlessly?


    Face facts car nut liberals, YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED.

    Has it ever occurred to people that the reason why most people don’t cycle is that arseholes like me are on the road?

    Cyclists really need to get off their high horses. I enjoyed cycling a couple of times when I was a child and that makes me qualified to pontificate on it wholesale now.

    I’m addicted to the air conditioned luxury that is my car. During that time on the way to work, I can stare out the side windows, ignoring the presence of vulnerable road users. I drive too fast because I’m selfish. I light cigarettes and mess around with distracting hot drinks, all because I know I’m safe and I don’t give a toss about anyone else.

    And the whole time I’m getting closer to that inevitable cardiac arrest. Don’t you get it?????


  • Dave Holladay

    Maybe if we point out that if cycling and rail are properly integrated the “door to door” journey times envisaged for for high speed rail’s promise can be delivered here and now at a fraction of the cost, and the expected growth in passenger numbers can be handled without the expensive and ugly multi-decking of car parks.

    The passengers have already proved the concept many times – at St Pancras in 2004-05 there was an explosion in cycle use as the way to by-pass the Thameslink blockade, At Waterloo the same thing happened and now at least 2 train loads of passengers are taken out of the peak hour overload of ‘The Drain’ as they cycle across Blackfriars Bridge en route between Waterloo and the City – around 250 bikes per hour go through Exit 3 during the morning peak.

    Time savings can be dramatic too – typically a commuter driving to the station and going onward by bus or tube can cut 30 minutes – often more – from a typical 90-120 minute door-to-desk commute and one regular traveller between Preston and Gillingham (Dorset) cuts a whole hour from his journey time – in each direction. Combine the time savings and money savings (£500 for London Zones, and £800-£1500 for a car park season ticket) and you will pay for a top of range folding bike in around 4 months from the money saved.

    Mr Hammond, do look at what Mr Souter (he runs your local train service) has been doing he has made his operation the first in the UK to sell the passenger a complete journey package from door to door, rather have hope wistfully that they want to buy a station to station trip, and leave them to sort out a reliable way of getting to & from the station – rather like those Christmas toys which disappoint with their “Batteries not Included” labels. DB, NS and several big PT conglomerates in Europe sell cycle hire, car hire as part of their rail travel product portfolio, Why not here?

    Finally the bottom line looks very good – at Bedford, whilst only 19% of passengers are ‘delivered’ by the car parking facility, it demands the lion’s share of funding and land. In land use terms, for every single passenger delivered by car and using the car park, 9 can be delivered on foot and 7 by bike, and at Surbiton the growing cycle use has delivered car park spaces available at 09.30 with no need to build a bigger car park.

    We might start on raising awareness, and demonstrating the integrated transport detail by filling in the eNRT matrix of times to allow for transferring between London termini with the times appropriate for cycling – Euston Waterloo I can consistently deliver in 12 minutes (eNRT time = 53min), and have managed 10 when really pushed – with roughly the same for Paddington-Euston (eNRT 43 min), and another regular sprint is to get the xx.26 train to Hertford from an arrival at Euston at xx.20 – with time to photograph Tornado in Platform 6 before the xx.26 departure! (estimated journey time 4 minutes platform to platform (eNRT = 35 minutes – walking only takes 10!) London-Lincoln – just a 5 minute ride delivers the connection at Newark and London-Liverpool can be achieved faster by a fast connection at Warrington from a London-Glasgow service

  • Keith

    We need one simple transport policy – proper cycle space on trains, as the expense of a few seats if necessary.

    All we seem to get is grudging acceptance of folding cycles (which few actually want to use), and talk about cycle parking at stations (where the risk of theft is so high that it’s often excluded by insurers).

  • Tom

    “Has it ever occurred to people that the reason why most people don’t cycle is that England has lots of hills?”

    ? London doesn’t, in the main, which is one reason there are really a lot of cyclists here now. Other reasons are a young working population, the congestion charge, congestion *generally*, reasonable length commutes where the bike often wins on time and ten years of pro-cycling policies allied with traffic restraint, albeit that under Boris the momentum will probably have dissapated by 2012.