Britain: Where Politicians Love to Pedal

cameron_bike.jpgThe Times’ Lede blog reported yesterday that Tory chief David Cameron had his bike nicked while he ducked in to a store to buy some groceries:

Someone swiped the bike of the British opposition leader, David Cameron, who happens to be a national advocate for parking that gas-guzzling automobile and pedaling instead. Mr. Cameron, the Conservative party chief, regularly commutes to work at the House of Commons by bicycle.

As the story filled with humble details goes, he stopped at a supermarket on his way home, to pick up some items for dinner, and left his mountain bike locked to a bollard, a short and stout barrier whose main purpose is to block vehicle traffic while letting pedestrians pass. Mr. Cameron would regret the decision minutes later.

Sloppy locking technique aside, what’s news to me is that the leader of the UK’s right-wing party is a bike commuter and advocate for switching modes. This is the first I’d heard that Cameron is cut from the same cloth as London Mayor Boris Johnson, another Tory and avid city cyclist. Turns out several Tory MPs like to ride to work too. In America, this would be like Bloomberg biking to work every day, Republican congressmen joining Earl Blumenauer on his commute to the Capitol, and John McCain championing cycling as transportation.

Of course, associating bikes with one side of the political spectrum or the other may be missing the point, as one MP told the BBC: 

"I have to say it is not an ideological crusade as far as I’m concerned. It is just a convenient way of getting about."

Photo of David Cameron pre-bike theft: Daily Mirror

  • I’m sorry David Cameron got his bike stolen and I’m sorry our politicians are so behind the times that they see bicycle commuting as (pick one): impractical, absurd, antiquated, dangerous, or threatening.

  • Considering their record on the war, the budget, and transport issues, our politicians themselves are impractical, absurd, antiquated, dangerous….

  • Jason A

    I never understood why the tough, muscular, American Right insists on dismissing cyclists as “hippies,” “juvenile,” “sissies” etc…

    I mean, if you really want to showcase your manly, rugged individualism, don’t sit in 2 ton box of steel – go ride a bike in traffic.

    That’ll prove you got a pair.

  • Hi Mark, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Jason AI never understood why the tough, muscular, American Right insists on dismissing cyclists as “hippies,” “juvenile,” “sissies” etc…I mean, if you really want to showcase your manly, rugged individualism, don’t sit in 2 ton box of steel – go ride a bike in traffic.”

    Actually, once they accept the fact of global warming, the bicycle becomes the perfect “conservative” transportation system, precisely because it is individualistic and self-reliant. For the party of rural and small town England, that has to be more attractive than unionized, urban, socialistic mass transit.

    Wasn’t it Maggie Thatcher who said that anyone still taking the bus at age 30 has been a failure in life? Hard to go from that to a nation herded into buses and subway trains with the masses of proletariat.

  • According to the BBC, when Cameron bikes to work he’s followed by a car carrying his shoes and papers. The Lib Dem politician says that Cameron could have used panniers, but even if the papers are bigger, he could use a trailer.

    Larry, apparently there’s no evidence that Thatcher said that; it was attributed to other people. Still, I can’t imagine her on a bicycle.

  • dbs

    Angus:

    TheWhoFarm (and DoTheRightThings in general) totally inspired by JSK and her bicycle. We need more leaders leading by example!

  • neb

    That’s great. More republicans would probably win elections here if they did bike to work. Its hard enough to get the democrats to bike. Capitol Hill is basically a bunch of public buildings and their parking facilities.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I’ve got an answer for Jason A (Comment #3).

    Our right of center politicians need a phallus extension in the form of a large powerful automobile to make up for their inadequacies.

  • Cameron had to walk home from the supermarket after the bike was lifted–the follow-on car must be only a sometime thing. BTW, the bike’s been found and returned. By a newspaper that hasn’t always been a supporter.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sunday-mirror/2008/07/26/we-find-and-return-conservative-leader-david-cameron-s-stolen-bicycle-115875-20672185/

    Suspicious.

    (I have to learn how to tie a link to a bit of text.)

  • “I mean, if you really want to showcase your manly, rugged individualism, don’t sit in 2 ton box of steel – go ride a bike in traffic.”
    Please don’t conflate rugged individualism/cycling in traffic with masculinity…you might alienate those of us with plenty of the former and very little of the latter (and we’re right beside you in the movement for livable streets!)

  • I have friend who sees cameron cycling across Hyde Park regularly -no lexus hybrid 4×4 in sight. Maybe he’s discovered that a laptop fits into a pannier or rucksack?

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