They’re a tiresome bunch sometimes, these TV chefs. All that shouting and swearing at  staff. Now we now have a TV chef, James Martin, venting his spleen at cyclists.

Martin better watch out, that’s my advice. Such action could cost him his precious job – if a cyclist he abuses turns out to be the television executive who pays his salary. Or worse, if he should ever happen to cross a bunch of roadies.

Martin’s claim, that he drove his car in such a way as to cause a group of cyclists to fall from their bikes, just because he gets annoyed at cyclists jumping red lights, raises some uncomfortable issues.

I can see why he might want to remonstrate with wrongdoers, just as cyclists will do  with a driver who cuts them up. But if the cyclist fails to catch the b*****d, he doesn’t, so far as I know, go looking for an innocent motorist and beat him up!

Yet that’s what the coward Martin seems to have done, selected a random group of cyclists and intentionally set out to drive at them dangerously, before escaping in his motor.

That Martin feels so badly about cyclists suggests a deeper malaise the British Psychological Society might like to study. The possibility that there remains a default setting in sections of society still holding to the belief that the motor is king of the road, that cycling is working class,  the poor man’s transport.

Martin ought to be more careful who he abuses in future.Because altercations can have very unfortunate consequences.

I recall the fate of a driver in Liverpool who cut up a  bunch of riders lawfully flowing across the road  ahead of him,  to make a right turn at a set of lights. He split the group by driving through the middle of them. Bad mistake.

The lights turned to red. The car stopped. All the bikies caught up and stopped – at a red light! They used to stop at red lights in those days. They got off their bikes and piled them up against the front of car. And one of the riders opened the driver’s door, grabbed him by his lapels, yanked him half out,  then planted a fist into his jaw which tumbled him back into his seat.

Another story. A double decker bus drove past a cyclist. The conductor leaned out from the open platform at the back and with the palm of his hand,  smacked the cyclist across the back of the head. Bit further on, the bus stopped at a bus stop and the cyclist caught up.

The conductor watched as the cyclist dismounted and unfold to his full height of six foot four, before stepping lightly up the platform. The  conductor received a broken jaw. The cyclist was fined for assault. I don’t know if the conductor was charged.

Then there was the story of the young bored policeman driving down the East Lancashire Road. He spied a bunch of riders and pulled them over, told them that they were breaking the law by riding two-abreast. Absolute nonsense. He asked for their names and, curiously, their occupations, and this was his undoing.

The first cyclist was the transport manager of huge industrial company, whose  premises stretched for several hundred yards on other side of the dual carriageway. The second rider was a junior partner in a firm of Liverpool accountants. The third was an inspector of HM Taxes. The fourth was…you get the picture.

Anyway, when the by now sheepish looking officer had completed his note taking, the transport manager asked him for his name and number. He then informed the officer that he would report the matter to his good friend, the Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire.

The moral of the story, Mr Chef, is be careful you don’t end up in the stew.

  • Shuggie

    It’s called segmentation in marketing circles – i.e. in Martin’s case find a soft target to unite your sofa-bound audience against. It helps if you engage your brain first though JM – you’ll find this will rebound straight back to your afore-mentioned cranial area.
    Be honest, on how many levels are you and your lifestyle leanings wrong? Obeisity. Sustainability. Illegality. Stupidity.
    Cycling and re-cylcling is the future whether you like it or not. Get with the programme JM or continue in this mode and the TV companies will de-list yours.

  • F Lowe

    I might as well comment on what I’ve read so far because it made me sick to my stomach what has been written about James. (Anyone please feel free to fill in the blanks because I’ve only read a little of what’s going and some of the comments made relating to this incident.)

    From what are supposed to be ‘highly intellectual people’ most of you should be ashamed of yourselves and therefore should ‘grow-up’!

    I am a JM fan, even though only of late, and ‘Yes’, perhaps he should not have written what he did, but he has, and I’m sure mummy (and everyone else around him), is giving him hell over it! I also guess it’s something that he does really regret – haven’t you done or said something in your life that you’ve regretted and expected forgiveness?

    It’s been said it was a bit of a lame apology, well perhaps it was, but I feel a lot of people are only condemning him over it because he’s a celebrity and in the limelight – and oh how we like ‘celebrity bashing’ and ‘seeing some fall’ don’t we?

    Some of us no doubt have said a lot worse things about cyclists. For example, “Why do cyclists insist on using the roads where I live when they have cycle paths especially for them?” Are some of the cycling community not putting their own lives in jeopardy (as well as motorists), by not using the paths provided? I’ve even said to one of my cyclist friends (and I’m only a passenger in a car), that I’ve felt like winding down the window as I’m passing and shouting “Get on the flaming cycle path!”. But I haven’t, so are you going to condemn me too for thinking that and yes I’ve now written it down so I guess I’ll get some cyclist nuttier threatening my life like they have James’s too? Are you going to condemn the people who comment on the fact that cyclists should pay for using the roads because motorists pay tax?

    I’m not going to harp on about this because we could debate about these kinds of questions forever. But I think you get my point.

    What I would just like to point out and as Gamma commented “No one has come forward to complain (as yet)” or report the incident”. So I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong I don’t condone any form of reckless aggressive driving towards cyclists or putting anyone’s life in danger, but, Peter you said, “This kind of article just encourages some motorists to act aggressively towards cyclists.” Well forgive me for saying don’t you think some of the threatening comments made by the ‘cyclist community’ may encourage some nutter, to carry out some of the really nasty scenarios I’ve read about, for real, against James?

    The derogatory comments that have been made about JM’s appearance, his dyslexia, about his persona, even to the point of wishing James has a car crash, etc, is terrible especially when no one even knows whether he’s even done what he said he did. What kinds of so called civilised people are you? We’re all entitled to ‘freedom-of-speech’, be thankful for it, but please don’t use it to be hateful, threaten people’s lives or their livelihood. Life is far too short and I think there is much more important issues in the world to take note of…..for example our poor soldiers in Afghan etc…..whom may I add James supports, along with a lot of other charities and organisations.

    We should all learn to be tolerant of one another even though some of us do not like what is written or said, we all have our own and are entitled to our opinions, just don’t condemn someone for speaking their mind, because when this happens no one will stand up and support some of the more important issues in society. (Not that cyclist’s issues aren’t worth talking about.)

    Apologies for the long post….just had to get it off my chest. Fi

  • moser

    Re.James Martin, If you have followed his T.V.appearances you would have noticed that he is prone to ,shall we say,exagerations ! so maybe this was another one. However maybe a few cyclists could contact his Sat.morning live T.V. show where viewers are invited to ring in with a cooking question and then ask something more pertinant instead,just a thought that might get through to him.

  • Clive Tomblin

    “The lights turned to red. The car stopped. All the bikies caught up and stopped – at a red light! They used to stop at red lights in those days.”

    Mr Bingham, please note that I am a cyclist and I stop at every red light. Every time.

    If you imply that it’s acceptable for cyclists not to stop at a red light you give ammunition to James Martin and the anti-cycling brigade.

  • Claire

    I’ve long thought that passing a driving test ought to be dependent on also passing a cycling proficiency test (and the motorists I know who I’ve mentioned this to have agreed).

    In The Netherlands, serious injuries to cyclists are quite low even though there are many more of them – and one reason could be that almost everybody cycles, even car drivers. So they a) know the rules of the road, and b) know what it’s like to be a cyclist.

    Anyone want to start a campaign?

  • Peter

    Hang on guys, why are you assuming that the writer is condoning these acts of violence? He’s writing about things that have actually happened that are relevant to the original piece, not making up threats. Yes, it’s a bit, ‘we’re harder than you’ playground style, but quite a funny comment nonetheless.

  • Stanley Stan

    Here, here Mick. An article like this published by a major voice of cycling like CW is just as much a disgrace as the crass Martin article. It condones/encourages/glorifies what is quite simply road rage and common assault. Not clever in anyone’s book and I’m amazed this sort of stuff gets published as “journalism”.
    Why not tackle Martin eloquently on the stupidity of what he has put in print?

    What amounts to a childish “we’re harder than you” rant off the playground does not help in engendering support and awareness for the cyclist. The article just goes to reinforce the stereotype of the cycling community as being a load of law breaking lefty lunatics.

    Your thoughts, Mr Bingham?

  • Al

    Are you condoning the acts of violence you describe? Surely this should be an opportunity to take the moral high ground without even trying, not an excuse to start a war?

    As for Rad Wagon’s point about VED- arguably, cyclists do actually pay the appropriate rate. After all, if you were to buy a version of the Ford Fiesta, with a whacking great 1.6l turbo diesel engine, you could be paying just as much VED, as it sneaks under 100g/km of CO2. No fancy hybrid tech or anything like that. No tax.

    Should that be banned from the road just because their drivers pay no tax?

  • Rad Wagon

    Popular Myths Unravelled

    1. Cyclists don’t pay for the roads.

    Cyclists do pay for the roads. They don’t pay Vehicle Emissions Tax (the old Road Tax), but that doesn’t pay for road building. Road-building is funded out of general taxation. We all pay that, in our income tax, in our council tax, and in VAT.

    Cyclists don’t cause anything like as much damage to the roads. So the more cars taken off them replaced by bicycles, the less it’ll cost in taxes.

    2. Cyclists are badly behaved on the roads, so they deserve it.

    Actually it’s a small minority of cyclists who behave badly. Most do exactly the same as motorists and follow the rules of the road. It’s just that the badly behaved ones are very much more visible.

    Also, just resorting to the age old flippant remark “well you mow down pedestrians, so we should be allowed to mow down cyclists” belies any kind of rationality. Of course neither should happen. I don’t condone cyclists doing damage to pedestrians, or crossing red lights for that matter.

    Regular testing for all road users may well be a good idea. I’m sure most cyclists would like this idea. I’m not sure how many motorists would when a good proportion loose their license very quickly.

    3. We’ve provided cycle lanes, you should be forced to use them.

    The quality of cycle lanes in this country is frankly appalling. Whilst cycling at 5mph may be possible on most, any higher speed is likely to meet with grief. Would you like to be limited to going at 20mph on a A-road in a car?

    Many cycle lanes are shared pedestrian use. Looking out for pedestrians making weird and wonderful changes in direction is something worth avoiding at all costs. Then there’s the quality of workmanship. Plants growing through, surfaces that would make a car wheel fall off, and lampposts in the middle are all hazards that push many cyclists onto the road.

    4. Cyclists should be in the gutter so that cars can drive past them unimpeded.

    Actually cyclists are at least 2 foot wide. They cannot ride down the very side of the road or they’d be falling off their bikes into traffic every 20 yards with the rough mess that’s strewn there. Effectively, they do take up about half a width of a lane.

    Short of fairly wide roads, and there aren’t many of those, cars have to pull out of their lane to pass them. This means if traffic is coming the other way, slowing down for a few seconds, then passing. Note, this is a few seconds, not half an hour. If you’re doing 60mph, be completely in the other lane or your wind will take them out as well. So, share the road, like you’re meant to.

    5. And as far as a lack of humour, or needing to get a life, or thinking this is unimportant is concerned, or being “PC gone mad”.

    Scan through the pages of the accident reported in the papers. Go tell the families of injured or killed cyclists that this article is funny.

    As far as getting a life is concerned, that’s exactly what cyclists want to keep hold of. Every day we get threatened by 1-ton lumps of metal driven by people who don’t really seem to be in control of them. Staying alive and healthy isn’t “PC gone mad”.

    Most importantly, when a driver decides to publish his joy for driving badly causing potential injury & death to others, it encourages others that it’s acceptable behaviour. That’s what is so wrong in this case. It simply cannot be taken as just a joke.

  • Mick

    I’m sorry, while James Martin is clearly an idiot, the writer of this article is even more stupid. It takes every last inch of the moral high ground Martin’s actions had handed to cyclists, and gives it straight back.

    Treat Martin with contempt, by all means, because he deserves it, but articles like this are not the answer, because the situation requires a bit more than sixth form bravado and cheery tales of assaults, broken jaws and the like. The solution for cyclists, as all sensible people will identify, is to show that we are better than Martin and would not behave in such a way. This article demonstrates precisely the opposite point.

    You had a chance to highlight the unthinking, arrogant and dangerous views of a certain portion of car-drivers. Instead, you attempted to show that cyclists can find no better response that to react violently and in kind. This is a piece of irresponsible nonsense that does nothing to serve the interests of cyclists, and the fact it made its way off your computer, past a sub and an editor on its way to the site, is extraordinary.

  • Glenn

    I saw Martin at the Goodwood festivlal Of Speed (yes, I like cars too!). Believe me, his waist is bigger than his brain. If he was any good he’d be on the TV when people are watching it.

  • barry davies

    going into knutsford one sunday the gang got chopped up by a car driver lots of shouting and horn blowing, yes a mile further on the said car was stuck in traffic. surrounded by cyclist he lowered down his window and quick as a flash his car keys were taken out of the ignition and thrown into the nearest front garden. we left the driver with all the cars behind giving him a bad time !!!!!!

  • Chris

    If this idiot chef has openly admited to Reckles / dangerous / agressive driving.

    surely the police can prosecute him.

    i have often been verbally abused by idiots like him, and on one occasion was smacked acrossthe back of the head by the passenger of a white van. when i contacted the police giving them the vans number, they just wern’t interested.

    get afew high profile prossecutions and then maybee drivers will learn that they have to share the road.

  • Craig

    Rather than chastise him, maybe ‘educating’ him in the ways of the bike, might make him a more responsible driver and more appreciative of the beauty of cycling.

  • Rad Wagon

    If you feel moved to do something about it, raise a press complaint about James Martin’s original article. If this runs, he and the BBC will have to do something more than offer a PR apology.

    How to Do It.

    Magazine/Newspaper: Daily Mail
    Publication Date: 14/09/09
    Headline: The Tesla Roadster is the all-electric supercar that’s as fast as a Ferrari
    Internet link to article:

    Please explain how you believe the Code of Practice has been breached: (you should use your own words, but here are mine)
    It specifically refers to scaring cyclists using a car. If it is true, then not only does this break the law, but it is harrassment and intimidation. If it is not true then it is inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.

    Which specific clause(s) of the Code are you complaining under:
    Either 4 – Harrassment and intimidation or 1 – Accuracy.

  • Stanley Stan

    Equally irresponsible article. Martin a prize plonker but we can’t condone stupid behaviour, irrespective of circumstances.

  • Tim

    I am planning to keep a very close look out for any future ‘personal appearances’ by James Martin at book signings etc. I will then use the Twitter network to invite all the local cyclists (just like Lance does) to go along and say ‘hello’ to the TW@T in person…and keep an eye out for his sports car parked nearby.
    Note to self – always carry multi-tool, metal tyre levers, house key, super glue for just such an occasion!!