19 February 2007

In praise of cycling MP's

I knew the moment I saw the headlines about politicians' expense claims that I was going to get exasperated.

"From £16,000 on taxis to £230 on a bike: politicans' travel expenses revealed" was the headline in the right-on Guardian. Perhaps I am just a little bit touchy, but that certainly seemed to be a dig at cycling MP's (and by extension, all cyclists). How else to interpret highlighting one of the smallest claims in an article generally criticising excess amongst our elected officials? Other newspapers also devoted column inches to the cycling claims of Jeremy Corbyn MP. Yet, it represents just 5 one thousandths of one percent of the total claimed by all MP's (0.0051%).

And, this weekend, Jasper Gerard, writing in the Observer under the headline "For our tireless MPs, no expenses are spared" sent me suitably over the edge with:
"But my favourite claim is Jeremy Corbyn's, who pocketed £230 - for cycling. Perhaps puncture repair kits are pricey."

Ha, bloody, ha!

Let's get this straight. The only logical and rational comment on Jeremy Corbyn's claims are to point out how much better the public purse would have been if other MP's made use of such transport. Diane Abbott's £2,235 in taxis is a start. And, boy, does she need the exercise. How about Mr Khabra's £3,007 (Ealing) and Mr Khan's £2,153 (Tooting) car expenses. And, perhaps Ms Janet Anderson and Mr Laurence Robertson (£16,612, and £12,015 mileage respectively), could at least get their fat arses out of their leather seats for SOME of their travel?

And, let's just look at Jasper's comment in more detail. The cost of cycling is actually the cost of a puncture repair kit is it? Just like the cost of driving is the cost of his in-car air freshener? Jeremy Corbyn cycled 1,100 miles in a year (on parliamentary business). I suspect his bike would need a good service after that amount of mileage with some new tyres, brake pads etc. That's probably about £100 or so a year based on my experience. Then there's the cost of the bike. And, lets not forget the cost of a decent lock, luggage carriers, waterproofs etc.

Cycling is considerably less costly than most other methods of transport, but it is NOT free. It's considerably beneficial for other road users who don't have their roads clogged up even more (please, this is not China - most cyclists cycle out of choice not economics). It's beneficial to our economy by not clogging up those roads. It's considerably more beneficial to the environment, and it's also beneficial to our health system (and the "health systems" of those cyclists too).

So, to Jeremy Corbyn, and those other cycling MP's: I praise you for your efforts and fortitude. Your £230 is the best value of the £4.5m spent last year.

And, to our unelected journalists who wouldn't know a crank from a cog: STFU!

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1 comment:

Tuco said...

cycling is far more expensive than people realize.
My younger brother wants to get into bike commuting, and I've been thinking about the "start up" costs for him:
bike, fenders, rack? paniers?, helmet, pumps (home and portable), locks, waterproof jacket, lights, various repair tools, replacement tubes.
these are very expensive items, and an MP claiming 200 some pounds per year in cycling expenses is pretty darn reasonable.