But more worryingly still is the tone of both the articles - in one, which is written by a cyclist and actually goes on to provide a fairly broad and considered point of view, we are called "Bike Bandits". In the other, which I can assume is what can only be the consequence of a very slow news day, and clearly NOT written by a cyclist, we are called cycling "iPod Zombies". Apparently iPod-wearing cyclists are now so endemic that it justifies full column inches in a national newspaper, and, according to the cyclist we "are a bandit tribe who blithely ignore the usual laws of the road."
Are you one of this lot? (Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail)
Strangely enough there is no mention in either article of that strange and silent mysterious killer which destroyed 4920 innocent lives on our roads in the previous quarter alone, but that's not news I suppose... Rules of the road? I'm sure they were being followed when those 650 third party pedestrians were killed by this mystery killer (as according to the always superlative Malcolm Wardlow.)
Now I fully agree that wearing an iPod whilst cycling in central London seems like a particularly daft thing to do. But then so is smoking, and I do that fully aware of the dangers involved. I wouldn't cycle with my headphones in and on, but I assume the experience of shutting out the noise of traffic is akin to riding in a car with the windows wound up, the air conditioning on and the dulcet tones of Terry Wogan on Radio 2 keeping you company as you cruise your two tonne box of steel down the street? I don't remember seeing an article about 'driving with your windows closed and radio on means you won't hear cyclists on the road'.
More alarming still is the apparent immunity wearing iPod headphones gives to other drivers should they wish to ram you off the road: "“iPod zombies are a menace. I saw a bus clip one of them the other day in Victoria who was oblivious to anything around him.” exasperates the article. Never mind that perhaps the bus driver should have been looking where he was going, as oppose to clipping cyclists?
What worries me most of all about these articles is that the velorution hasn't happened here in London yet - we are still only slowly gathering momentum and there's a long way to go before things get really better. In order for London, and the wider UK, to become more like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, we need ordinary and everyday people to consider cycling to be a safe and normal activity that they can do every day as innocently and, dare I say it, mindlessly as they presently do driving a car or catching the Tube. So long as the press in the UK focus on these ridiculous non-stories, the longer it will take for this country to achieve that goal.