Second offence for the Baroness — but other Lords say she's to be congratulated

What seemed like a run-of-the-mill debate on cycle safety in the House of Lords took a bizarre twist last Thursday when Baroness Sharples bragged that she’d recently hit a cyclist — and her fellow Lords congratulated her.

It isn’t the first such offence for the 91-year-old peer. In 2008 she made headlines after hitting a cyclist with her handbag after she saw him run a red light.

The debate began by the Baroness asking Lord Popat, government spokesman in the House of Lords for the Department of Transport, if there were any plans to make helmets compulsory for cyclists.

When Lord Popat told the House that there were no plans to introduce such legislation, Baroness Sharples replied: “If cyclists wore helmets, would they not be more visible and certainly safer? Can we also persuade them not to ride on pavements? Is my noble friend aware that recently, on a crossing outside the House, I hit a cyclist on the back because he did not stop and his friends behind shouted, ‘Well done — why didn’t you hit him harder?'”

Lord Popat was in firm agreement. “If we had more people with the courage and decency of my noble friend, the world would be a better place,” he replied.

The Baroness’s intervention was obviously a popular move. Lord Berkeley added, “My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness. I would not like to meet her when on my bike on a dark night.”

The debate did eventually turn to cycling infrastructure, and Lord Berkeley repeated the position of the Transport Select Committee that the government needs to spend £10 per head on cycling funding. But for some participants in the debate, cyclists hadn’t yet received enough of a bashing, and the focus returned to errant riders in breach of the law.

Lord Blencathra suggested that “there is a serious point about protecting pedestrians”. He highlighted the “small minority of arrogant Lycra louts who sail through red traffic lights as if the law does not apply to them, belt down the pavement and scatter pedestrians”.

Lord Davies echoed calls for the Government to increase expenditure on cycling safety, and concluded by joking, “On a personal note, cycling down the River Lea for seven miles most mornings I always think that the safety device I need is not a helmet but water wings.”

The full debate can be read here.

  • simon peacock

    That’s fine. I treat ‘jay-walking’ pedestrians with equal contempt and they get a bloody good squirt from my drinks bottle.

  • paul gannon

    What? Fawkes wanted to install a catholic absolutist monarchy that would have burnt hundreds or even thousands of people for their religious beliefs. Fawkes was a fanatic – and fanatics always get it wrong.
    Better if we could vote for membership of the House of Lords rather than blow it up & encourage unbridled political violence.

  • George White

    Guy Fawkes had the right idea.

  • KarlRoche

    “Lord Popat was in firm agreement. “If we had more people with the courage and decency of my noble friend, the world would be a better place,” he replied.”

    I must remember this when I see a tax dodging MP or celeb to whack them on the back too. (For legal reasons I shall state this is sarcasm)

  • Pee Bee

    Now I know the real reason why mention of Margaret Thatcher brought me out in a cold sweat. The purpose of that handbag was not to hit Tory wets but to take aim at cyclists!

  • Don Shipp

    Is there any evidence at all to support the claim that compulsory cycling helmets would protect cyclists against handbag-swinging old ladies?

  • Don Shipp

    Although in this one instance the cyclist’s assailant as been identified, there is clearly a significant chance that a Member of the Upper House could assault a cyclist and entirely escape detection. This could not happen if Peers were forced to wear number plates, as well as being licenced and insured.