How to respond to a cycling scheme – an objector’s guide

A while back I wrote a helpful guide for journalists thinking about writing a lazy article about cycling.

In a similar vein – and with so much attention now being focused on new cycling infrastructure, particularly from objectors – I thought it would be similarly constructive to provide some handy hints and tips for people who want to complain about a cycling scheme.

Read on…

The first step, and perhaps the most important one of all is – don’t bother reading about what’s actually being proposed. Why bother informing yourself? That would waste valuable time, time that could instead be spent moaning, or signing an angry petition, or appearing in the local newspaper with your arms folded. Just respond to what you think is rumoured to be happening. Evidence and facts are for chumps.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider this – engaging with the consultation might lead to you discovering that the proposals you are so angry about don’t actually represent any kind of earth-shattering change. How unsettling would that be!

When you do write something – either on a petition, or on Facebook or Twitter, SCRAWL in CAPITAL letters, seemingly at RANDOM. That’s the best WAY to get YOUR point ACROSS.

Good effort, but more caps lock could be used. Try GOING for EVERY other WORD.

Good effort, but more capital letters needed. Try GOING for EVERY other WORD.

You are the expert. Highway engineers and transport planners – so called ‘experts’  – are responsible for the scheme. However, you sometimes drive on the roads in question, so remember, that makes you the real expert. They might have done modelling on traffic flows, and examined all potential permutations, but because you live nearby you already know they must have got their facts wrong. It’s obvious this cycling scheme will inevitably cause ten hour delays to drivers. (Just pluck a scary figure out of thin air; it’s bound to be more accurate than anything the ‘experts’ could come up with).

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 13.43.54

Dame Janet gets into the spirit. But she’s clearly not a proper expert; she’s severely underestimated the delay from a junction redesign at a mere five hours.

Expand your horizons. Does the cycle scheme only involve one small stretch of road? That might not be much to get excited about, so it’s important to emphasise the effects this scheme will have on all roads and streets within a ten mile radius. Or even more! Go for it! See the example of Raymond, who predicts (correctly) that a slight change to the route drivers have to use to get into a park will have a profound effect on the whole of north London.

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Textbook response from Raymond, but he is a little conservative – why not argue that the whole of London will be brought to a halt?

Don’t be shy – remember, you are the traffic expert.

Don’t hold back on the language. Use words like ‘catastrophic’; ‘mayhem’; ‘destruction’; ‘chaos’; ‘insane’; ‘punitive’; ‘will create a ghetto’; ‘a living hell’; ‘armageddon’. Be creative! The more apocalyptic, the better – this is all about speaking truth to power.

You absolutely have to convey how this cycle scheme will bring about the downfall of civilisation, as surely as if it were connecting your street with Hades. (Which it probably will be – you haven’t checked the consultation details, remember).

B+ for effort.

B+ for effort – unfortunately let down by not stating clearly that this cycle lane will destroy the whole of London, not just Hampstead.

Superficially, this might just be a bit of cycling infrastructure, but you know better. It’s actually a sinister plot to devastate your city.

It’s all about a minority. This is an easy one to get right. Remember, it’s only weirdo cyclists who want these changes. Why should they be privileged at the expense of cars?Forget about all those normal-looking people in ordinary clothes, cycling about where you live –  they’re quite happy mixing with motor traffic, obviously. Just look at them! No, it’s only Lycra Louts and The Spandex Taliban who want special treatment in the form of cycling infrastructure.

Emphasise the weirdness. Nobody likes weirdos. 

Think of the children. A cycling scheme – it is claimed! – might actually allow children to cycle around by themselves, but we all know that is preposterous lunacy.

The proper place for a child is on the back seat of a car, being ferried everywhere in safety. So these cycling schemes will actually harm children – it will delay them getting to school, trap them indoors, and also fill their lungs with pollution. Literally. Speaking of which…

Think of the pollution. It’s a well-known fact that the air in our towns and cities is sweet and fragrant. But if a cycling scheme goes ahead in your area, think again! A cloud of thick, noxious fumes will descend over your town or city, a direct result of all motor vehicles everywhere being brought to a complete standstill. All thanks to that innocent-sounding cycling scheme.

Of course, we all know pollution is caused by cycling – it’s just common sense! – but don’t forget to hammer home the message. It’s so important to ensure that all available space on our roads and streets is used for motor traffic – that’s the only way to stop pollution.

Think of the gridlock and traffic jams. ‘What’s a traffic jam’? I hear you ask. Well, you might not have heard of them, or seen one actually happening, because they’re very, very rare – but it’s when motor vehicles start queuing behind each other.

Yes, it does sound unbelievable! We all know that roads and streets flow smoothly at all times. But if you let a cycling scheme go ahead, these so-called ‘traffic jams’ will suddenly appear, and you will be ‘gridlocked’, stuck in your car for days on end.

Illustrate your point with a picture of all the stationary motor traffic that has suddenly appeared once a cycle scheme has been built.

Illustrate your point with a picture of all the stationary motor traffic that has suddenly appeared once a cycle scheme has been built.

The choice is simple – either start preparing food, provisions and supplies for every single car trip, trips that could take days or even weeks, or stop the cycling scheme. Which brings us to…

Don’t bother engaging with the consultation, or even responding to it. Sign an angry petition; yell at people at public meetings; provide flowery quotes for the local newspaper. Anything! But whatever you do, don’t make your views known through the proper channels – that’s how they trick you.

Finally, if all these unstoppably brilliant tactics don’t succeed, it doesn’t really matter. Because there’s one tactic left that can’t possibly fail…. the expensive legal challenge!

Good luck!


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20 Responses to How to respond to a cycling scheme – an objector’s guide

  1. ORiordan says:

    Even if there isn’t gridlock, clearly a cycle scheme will increase CONGESTION. In fact, almost everything increases CONGESTION: bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, speed limits, new developments, bus lanes… (Everything except, of course, the 10 cars with 10 people in them in front of you in traffic…)

    Oh, and don’t forget emergency services. People will DIE because of ambulances being held up in traffic caused by CONGESTION because of the cycle scheme.

    Also, a cycle scheme will be DISASTROUS to the local economy and local shopkeepers will be forced OUT OF BUSINESS because NO ONE can drive to the shops any more.

    • D. says:

      I heard that a full moon can cause congestion. And people. People and a full moon cause congestion. And bus lanes; and NO bus lanes. Everything: everything causes congestion!

  2. lorenzo3249 says:

    Excellent stuff.

    Hilarious, but sadly true. Enjoying the expensive legal challenge link too, even though I’m one of those cab drivers. The result of the CS11 consultation is surely going to be one of the most interesting subjects in recent London cycling history.

  3. Andrew L says:

    Very disappointing article. You have not nearly captured the true gravity of the situation. The ECONOMIC impact. The removal of PARKING (even if there is a net increase in spaces). The moving of bus stops (even by a a few feet). The DISABLED access (you have never cared about it before but now it is really important). The lack of ROAD TAX. The lack of helmets. Cycle schemes increase CYCLING ON THE PAVEMENT. The DELAYS to the busses. PEOPLE BURNING in the homes because FIRE ENGINES NO LONGER FIT on the 4 remaining lanes. The true horrors are UNIMAGINABLE. People really DON’T WANT to CYCLE. The WASTE of PUBLIC FUNDS. The INCONVENIENCE. The disruption to the ELDERLY… I could go on (and on and on and on)

    The only thing is to carry a COFFIN down the high street in protest:


  4. yalleriron says:

    Very funny, but, alas, all too true. We even have such “experts” in these Suffolk backwoods, who come up with the stuff you so efficiently lampoon.

  5. I’m a bit disappointed your blog didn’t include the need to include extraneous spaces for no readily apparent reason.

  6. congokid says:

    Another favourite tactic is to complain that the various Yougov polls, surveys and TfL consultations almost always come out in favour of bike lanes because they are set up and controlled by a mysterious cabal of cyclists (often also referred to as ‘taliban’) and are hidden away somehow from motorists being able to find them and have their views represented (even though the results are rarely 100 per cent in favour, so *some* detractors have clearly had their say).

  7. I really like cyclists, honest! says:

    I think the main problem with cycling schemes is the cyclists. Any scheme causes them to ride too fast…. and too slow. This was proven when I ran down a cyclist for riding too fast, as he was lying on the ground I thought he was then going too slow so I backed up and ran him down again. . now being a cyclist myself I have no problems with cyclists except when I am driving. Now none of this would have happened if the narrow bike lane didn’t exist and I could just get back to punishment passing the not too fast, not too slow lycra loonies.

  8. Markus Wagner says:

    BostonCyclist put it well a few years ago, take a look:

    “I am not slowing you down”

  9. Very funny, very true. But also very unsatisfactory. I am Dutch and even though I have lived in Britain for a long time, I am still completely baffled by the viciously negative attitude towards cycling in this country. I would like to see more attempts made at understanding the true nature of the objections, rather than just ridiculing them. The advantages of cycling and proper cycling infrastructure are obvious, the arguments have been won years ago. So why do so many people react negatively in such a passionate way, and use obviously unreasonable arguments like above? What is going on? Could someone please get under their skin and explain? Perhaps we will know better how to advance. Arguments and facts alone are obviously not enough, we will have to find better ways to win hearts and minds. Ridiculing can’t be part of that, but I understand the attraction, and the impatience that feeds it.

    • pm says:

      Afraid I have a suspicion that part of the appeal of driving, to some, particularly the types who engage most prominently in these campaigns, is the sense of power that it bestows. I think some people get addicted to that feeling. Rather like habitually carrying a gun in public (just try and argue with American gun fans over ‘open carry’, it feels much the same). As with other addictions, it becomes difficult for the addicted to think rationally.

  10. rdrf says:

    Indeed. There has to be a relentless stream of self-pity in the objections. For a note on this and the language used, see

  11. Hilarious sarcasm. Unfortunately, it looks like all of the anti cyclist populists have already adopted these measures, with surprising effectiveness. Only a fool who builds their house, or more specifically their facts, on sand would believe in these ideas.

  12. Brilliant! That was good fun 🙂

  13. Wear a bike helmet when you hand over the petition to demonstrate that you’re not anti-cycling…

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  15. Toros Daniel says:

    I particularly like the concept of filling all road space with only cars in order to reduce pollution. Brilliant thinking!

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