In a strident article in the Daily Mail on Sunday Petronella Wyatt claims her elderly mother was knocked down by a cyclist on August 16th and then again "the other evening." Wyatt said her mother suffered a broken arm and "nearly lost the sight in her left eye".
However, the long piece that appeared in the paper and on dailymail.co.uk, the world's biggest website, surprisingly failed to mention that Ms Wyatt had claimed her mother was knocked down by a cyclist in 2010, too. And Ms Wyatt's claim to have had her handbag stolen by cyclists this year is also similar to a claim made in 2010. This earlier incident was also not mentioned in the current article.
Much of the text from the earlier article, printed in the Daily Mail in 2010 (extracted below), has been resurrected, but not credited, in the 2012 article. The article has now become a news story in London's mass circulation Evening Standard, under the headline 'All cyclists should have a licence', says Petronella Wyatt as her mother is injured twice in a month.
Ms Wyatt is the former lover of Boris Johnson, London's most high profile cyclist.
No doubt the Daily Mail paid Ms Wyatt a much reduced fee for Sunday's article because it borrowed so heavily from the unmentioned 2010 piece. The similarities are startling (even down to the "gurgling" friends), but it's surprising Ms Wyatt didn't reveal her mother - Veronica Banszky Von Ambroz - has been repeatedly knocked down and injured by cyclists.
Ms Wyatt is not always terribly strong on facts. For instance, in both the 2010 and 2012 pieces she writes "the police have established, in conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory, that half of all collisions between bicycles and cars are the fault of the cyclist."
She doesn't name this particular cyclist, or perhaps she just has a problem with plural versus singular? Either way, she's wide of the mark. The 64-page TRL study reports that police blamed adult cyclists for, at most, 25 percent of collisions where cyclists were injured. Motorists were to blame for up to 75 percent of all injury incidents involving adult cyclists.
Extract from 2012 article
On August 16, my mother was hit by a Lycra lout. She was crossing the road when a youth on a bicycle shot a red light, knocked her to the ground and left her with a broken arm.
Yesterday, a friend telephoned to ask about her health. 'She would be feeling better,' I replied, 'if she hadn't been hit by another bicycle the other evening.'
I could hear a convulsion in his voice. It sounded like stifled laughter. He could not repress a gurgling sound before he managed to compose himself to express sympathy and shock. 'Again? How awful!'
But it isn't amusing. My mother is elderly. She was shopping in London's Regent Street when she was hit by the first cyclist, who failed to stop. He didn't even look back.
Then three days ago, just as she was regaining some strength, she crossed a street near her home in North London to buy bread. Once again, a hit-and-run cyclist struck.
This time my mother nearly lost the sight in her left eye. And her broken arm sustained such serious damage that she may have to undergo a lengthy operation.
If my mother had been hit twice by a car in a similar space of time, the general reaction would have been one of horror and outrage. The anti-car lobby has portrayed motorists as evil, greedy killers of the innocent and destroyers of the planet.
[To] many of us, there is something charming about bicycles. But this halcyon haze enveloping cyclists hides a disturbing truth.
There are rogues: Lycra louts whose intentions are as low as the meanest hit-men. In 2012, I had my handbag stolen by a gang of youths on bikes.
Aside from the dangers, male cyclophiles are becoming a blot on our highways. They are weirdly obsessive about their mode of transport and fuss endlessly about their appearance. Bent over handlebars in their garish Lycra armour and insect-shaped-helmets, cyclists see themselves as Lancelots – but look more like Richard III with a chamber pot on his head.
Urban England is not suited to bicycles. There are no wide boulevards to separate cars and cyclists as in Paris, Rome and Madrid.
A law that will force cyclists to take a proper test and abide by the Highway Code is long overdue. My mother might have died last week.
Extract from 2010 article
Last week I met a friend for coffee. 'How is your mother?' she asked. I stared into my latte. 'Um, she had a serious accident. Her arm is broken.' 'Oh, no. What on earth happened?' 'She was run down by a bicycle.'
The inevitable convulsion took place in the nerves of my friend's face. She looked as if she was going to laugh. She could not suppress a gurgling sound before she managed to compose her features into the correct position of commiseration and shock, and say: 'How awful!'
If my mother had been hit by a car, the reaction would have been horror and outrage. The anti-car lobby, in alliance with the Green movement, has successfully portrayed motorists as evil, greedy Jeremy Clarkson fetishists; killers of the innocent and wreckers of the planet. Motorists must be destroyed to keep the world pure.
Bicyclists on the other hand, are heroes of the highways. To many of us, moreover, there is something intrinsically endearing, sometimes even comical, about bicycles. Is it because they conjure up pictures of Edwardians in silly pantaloons, old maids cycling to church and irrepressible London Mayor Boris Johnson, perched on the saddle like a baked potato with cheddar on top?
Cyclists might have been amusing once upon a time, or at least relatively harmless, but no longer.
The bicycle has also become a favoured tool of muggers. It is the perfect instrument from which to surprise the unsuspecting victim and make a successful getaway. When I was mugged two years ago in Kensington, West London, it was by a youth on a bike who rode on to the pavement, snatched my bag and disappeared at high speed. No one could stop him, even after I yelled that the bag was a fake.
Aside from the dangers bicycles hold, male cyclophiles are becoming a blot on our highways. They are weirdly obsessive about their mode of transport, assuming an air of de haut en bas on their diets of wheatfree pasta.
Urban England is not suited to bicycles. There are no wide boulevards to separate cars and cyclists as there are in Paris, Rome and Madrid.