A Spoonful of Sugar

It appears that Lord Sugar is a bit bored now that he doesn’t have any apprentices to bully in the board room.

This from the nicely redesigned road.cc

“Lord Sugar has ignited a debate over whether cyclists in the UK, like those in some parts of the US, should be required to carry identification with police being given powers to confiscate the bicycles of those who fail to provide it, but the government has said it has no plans to do so.

The Amstrad founder and host of the BBC show The Apprentice, himself a keen cyclist and owner of a fleet of Pinarello bikes, was speaking yesterday during a debate in the House of Lords following a question about pavement cyclists tabled by Labour peer Lord Harrison.

Lord Sugar, who regularly cycles both in Britain and when saying at his other homes in both Spain and Florida, asked government transport spokesman Lord Atlee, “Is it mandatory for a cyclist using the roads to carry some form of identification on them?”

“In the United States of America we are told to carry identification with us so that the police can take action against people who are riding on pavements or jumping lights.

“If you don’t have identification with you, they confiscate your bike and it is up to you to go and get it back and pay a big fine.”

In reply, Lord Atlee, who is the grandson of the Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, said the government had no plans to introduce such a requirement…..”

Then he had a think about it in the Board Room and instead of pointing at people, he started typing instead..

“…On Twitter this morning, Lord Sugar expanded on his comments yesterday, saying: “Cyclists should carry some form of ID, so they can get nicked by police for jumping pavement or lights. Otherwise they just lie who they are.”

He added that carrying ID was also a good idea for cyclists “in case they get knocked off bike in serious accident that might render them unconscious” and that when out riding, he always carried ID, cash for a taxi and a phone.”

I like to think he’s just a naturally pragmatic man saying naturally pragmatic things. I unwittingly always carry ID for the simple reason that my Drivers’ Licence is in my wallet. Do read the full report as it has pragmatic comment from Lord Young & CTC’s Chris Peck too. Personally, I sincerely hope it doesn’t ignite a debate because we still live in a nation where some are having a little bit of trouble understanding that catering for something so thermodynamically simple, libertarian, egalitarian, that increases health and wellbeing (physical and mental) for all ages, colours, genders and creeds, empowering to the masses, that produces no emissions for future generations, less financially damaging to personal wallets and budgets for the NHS, road maintenance, policing (more people on bikes and on foot means safer communities) and returning civility, neighbourliness and localism might be quite a good thing.

Because we have nurtured and grown such a car-centric culture in Britain (hence for some inexplicable reason we still need to debate 20mph limits where people are and curtailing someone’s right to drive slightly less like a pillock), to mention an ‘out group’ like ‘cyclists’ is to crack open the tar and feathers. In Britain, stick someone who regards themselves as a normal, ‘respectable’ citizen in front of a computer and suddenly they’re suggesting Hanging for those lycra-lout, scruffy, unlit/ lit too bright, tax dodging, smug, sanctimonious ‘cyclists’ who ride within 20 metres of them. Yet when there’s a road crash in their locality involving motor vehicles (even with horrific consequences), their computers fall eerily silent. It’s just one of those sad things involving normal, ‘respectable’ citizens.

In the spirit of the Apprentice (I’m 40 next year so ‘Young Apprentice’ is probably a little ambitious) and sense of justice in the UK & US which is obviously high up in Lord Sugar’s mind, I would like to suggest to him a new product – I call it the Bicycle Observation In Local Environment Realm SUIT.

Very Visible. Unless of course your job involves picking oranges.

Like the bicycle, it’s a beautifully simple design and all the Cyclists details can be stencilled on the back. It’s machine washable (despite cyclists being ‘the unwashed’), available in all sizes, high-viz (shown here in ‘Amnesty Orange’) and the best way to identify a group of deviants that will break the law at any moment, you mark my words. I did my market research in the comments section of the Daily Mail and local newspaper websites as they seem to know everything. For cyclists, there’s no wondering about what to wear on the bike anymore – the downside being that the fit might clash with a Pinarello, Rapha will still make their own Suit for about £500 and British Cycle Chic websites may look a little bit samey after a while, even with more Dutch bikes.

What’s that? I’m fired? Thank you Lord Sugar.

Once again, here’s a film I made a while ago for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. In the final clip you might be able to see why [subjectively] some cyclists in Britain might favour the pavement at the moment, particularly with children. Happy cycling wherever you are.

3 thoughts on “A Spoonful of Sugar”

  1. “In the United States of America we are told . . .”

    . . . many things that are actually contraindicated by, ya know, the law. I’m sure such practices of extra-legality by the local authorities and police are not entirely unknown in the UK.

    If such practices are going on in some US locales it is only because no one has yet taken the trouble and expense to bring a complaint to a high court.

    A general requirement to carry ID is, as a rule, prohibited in the US, including for the use of the road. A license is required to operate a motor vehicle on a public road and a push bike is no more a motor vehicle than is a horse cart, or pair of shoes.

  2. Can I add that all Dutch cyclists shown here, if 14 or older, carry mandatory ID, and that a drivers’ licence doesn’t count for police purposes? Knowing who you are helps in case you need to be shipped to hospital, and your social security number gives access to your medical records.

    Principles are good, pragmatism is better.

  3. “Principles are good, pragmatism is better.”

    I wonder if the Dutch are blessed with a responsible government that can be trusted not to abuse or lose their valuable personal data? In that case, the pragmatic attitude might be to accept and carry the ID, just in case.

    If previous experience in the UK is anything to go by, our government(s) have neither the aptitude nor the trustworthiness to be entrusted with the information required for such a database. Hence the pragmatic attitude here is to vigorously resist mandatory ID at every step.

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