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Cycling columnist gets death threats

Published: 23 February 2009

Updated: 19 November 2014

A cycling columnist for The Independent who declared war on motorcyclists has received death threats over his latest rant.

James Daley demanded MCN remove his photo from our website after being deluged with angry responses.

We reported earlier how Daley had said letting ‘carbon-emitting, noise-polluting motorbikers’ into bus lanes was a ‘recipe for disaster’.

He'd claimed motorbikes were up to 200 times more dangerous to cyclists than cars are.

In the past he has boasted about jumping red lights on his push bike and declared: ‘Motorbikes are a menace – it's time we took them on.’

In a phone call to MCN, Daley said our story had prompted angry comments under his column on The Independent’s website. See them here

MCN took the opportunity to quiz Daley and persuaded him that motorcycling should be encouraged as well as cycling.

But we couldn’t convince him to stop jumping red lights. Despite admitting it was “indefensible”, Daley said he planned to keep doing it.

He was worried MCN would “twist” his words and yet refused permission for us to play you a recording of the conversation. So we’ve brought you an extract from the transcript.

On death threats

D: ‘People are now saying they want to push me under a bus for writing that article and obviously the article that you’ve written has sent loads more people to our site and it’s all turned into a kind of crazy discussion on the boards. We’ve got people putting up postings saying they want me to be killed or whatever. It’s ridiculous.

On bus lanes

MCN: Have you had any intelligent feedback from people who support motorcycles in bus lanes?

D: There are lots of intelligent comments on [The Independent’s] website.

Lots of people who’ve made reasonable arguments and I take their points. Actually, what I was saying was that I don’t feel safe with motorcycles. It makes me feel more nervous as a personal opinion.

And secondly, I know it makes some other cyclists feel slightly more unsafe as well, being around motorcycles in bus lanes, and I think the authorities should be encouraging more cyclists on our roads, not motorcyclists.

MCN: Why don’t you think the authorities should be encouraging more motorcyclists onto the roads?

D: Because I think ultimately they pollute and cyclist don’t. I think it’s a worthy thing to promote cycling.

MCN: Do you think motorcycles pollute more than cars?

D: Well, I just took that statistic off [a cycling group’s] website.

MCN: Right. Are you aware that the DfT has stated more recently that motorcycles now have to meet emission levels equivalent to those for cars?

D: I wasn’t aware of that, no.

MCN: Would it change your view?

D: It would certainly change my view about those facts. If they’re out of date, they’re out of date. Fair enough.

All I’m saying is I would say it’s important to encourage more people to bikes which don’t cause any pollution than it is to encourage them to get on any kind of motorised vehicle.

Whether or not cars or bikes pollute more than each other, I don’t know. I used those facts to serve my argument in that article. Ultimately, I’m just saying that cars and bikes certainly pollute more than bicycles.

MCN: I think the argument from motorcyclists would be that motorcycles consume less non-renewable resources, both while running and in their production, than cars do.

D: Fine. I think it’s probably better to have motorcycles than cars on our roads, but I don’t have to share bus lanes with cars, and so by allowing motorcycles into bus lanes you’re making it that much easier for motorbikes to get around town.

It might make more people get on them. I’d still rather that people decided that as a first means of transport they went for their bicycle.

MCN: But it’s not necessarily a choice between bicycles and motorcycles, is it? Somebody on a motorcycle could previously have been in a car.

D: I’d certainly encourage that. If they really couldn’t get on a bicycle.

MCN: You would encourage it?

D: I’d rather they were on a motorcycle than in a car.

On red-light jumping

MCN: Do you think motorcyclists should be able to select which laws they adhere to and which they don’t?

D: Of course not.

MCN: So why do you?

D: I shouldn’t, I suppose, and I know I break the law and will get fined for it If I’m caught doing it. But don’t tell me that millions of motorcyclists and motorists don’t break the law jumping the speed limit all the time.

MCN: I haven’t told you that.

D: I’m just saying, what’s the difference?

MCN: I’m not defending that position. You are defending your riding through red lights.

D: I’m not really because it’s indefensible, isn’t it? I’m saying there’s a safety argument sometimes but ultimately it’s against the law.

MCN: So are you going to stop doing it if it’s indefensible?

D: Well, it’s against the law but I personally don’t think it’s dangerous. I think I’m safer doing it, often, on my bike, so I probably will keep doing it.

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