A leading light of the British establishment last night tweeted that London's new cycling infrastructure is a "complete waste of taxpayers money" and that "cyclists do not belong in towns." In 2010, Robert Woodthorpe Browne wrote that "mass extermination" would rid the city of cyclists.
Browne is a Senior Warden of the Worshipful Company of World Traders, one of the 110 Livery Companies of the City of London, and has been a council member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs for five years. He has chaired the international relations committee of the Liberal Democrats since 2006.
The reinsurance industry professional also founded the African Insurance Organisation. As a leading light in the Lib Dems he chairs delegations at council and congresses of the European Liberal Democrat Party and of Liberal International.
In short, he's not yer typical local-councillor crazy. Predictably, last night's tweet has set off a chain reaction, with those who Browne doesn't believe belong in towns taking him to task for his unreconstructed views.
The Royal Institute for International Affairs is based in Chatham House in London and is famous for the Chatham House Rule. This was formulated in 1927 and aims to provide anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. "People usually feel more relaxed if they don't have to worry about their reputation or the implications if they are publicly quoted," says the Chatham House website. Browne is a Chatham House council member but he didn't feel the need for hide his barking-at-the-moon view on a transport mode that Transport for London modelling predicts will soon be overtake motoring in numbers of journeys per day.
Browne has long been comfortable venting his spleen in public about people who ride cycles – in 2010 this trustee and board member of the British-German Association implied that a final solution to what a bicycle advocate said was "cyclist aversion" would be "mass extermination."