I HAD to smirk at Keith Mitchell’s rant last week (last Wednesday’s Oxford Mail). I can only imagine he mistook the Mail for a mirror when he accused yours truly of “arrogance and stupidity”.

If you missed it, the leader of the county council said On Yer Bike “is supporting cyclists who are breaking the law, putting themselves in danger, similarly putting at risk drivers and pedestrians who may find themselves in the path of a speeding cyclist and encouraging more cyclists to do the same”.

It is surprising that someone who once described cyclists to me as “muesli-weaving sandal-eaters” would read On Yer Bike.

It’s even more surprising that the leader of the council would spend time – time that presumably taxpayers have paid for – writing a scurrilous letter without apparently having read the On Yer Bike he’s complaining about. For the column advocated a simple change in some traffic signals that would stop most red light jumpers and it made no attempt to support or excuse bad cycling.

Indeed, nothing annoys me more than to wait at a red light only to have my toes run over by some idiot who could not be bothered to stop. Worse, the idiot may scare witless or even clip a hapless pedestrian.

Yet, says Keith: “Someone advocating similar disobedience in another area of law might well be up before the courts. James deserves to be locked up with his bicycle where he will not be a threat to others.” It’s hard to tell whether he’s joking. Envy of the freedom of the bike is clearly a powerful emotion: the car-hugger is rattled.

On Yer Bike is so completely reasonable, it’s high time we were outspoken.

What about a blanket ban on driving within Oxford? Except for the elderly, infirm, pregnant and for those with a real “need” to drive. A “need” would be for important jobs like taking a broken bike to a repair shop.

Yes, and a £5 congestion charge for all those entering the city from outside. And at the very least a total ban on cars in Cowley Road between 7am and 7pm, when the street is such a slow-moving yet danger-fraught testament to the freedom of the motor car.

But all I did suggest, of course, was changing the system. Change the rules, don’t break ’em, I always say. That’s why for years I have been trying to persuade both the police and the county council to adopt a ‘Bike Polite’ programme for Oxford.

Bike Polite would educate cyclists with catchy messages like: l Shared paths: slow down, ring your bell, say thanks when passing!

l Pavements are for pedestrians: never ride on a busy pavement. Get off and push!

l Traffic lights: you are traffic too, stop at red!

l Get lights, don’t get run over!

You get the picture. Under a Bike Polite scheme, police would patrol cyclist misbehaviour blackspots and give naughty cyclists a Bike Polite lecture or a leaflet, and a fine if necessary.

The county council has a “cycling champion” – Arash Fatemian. He’s no Mark Cavendish, but a busy county councillor. In March 2010, Arash promised to start a county-wide Bike Polite campaign focussing on red light jumpers and cyclists not using lights at night.

We cycle nuts are still keen – and still waiting. All I can do is raise awareness. Keith can (until May) actually tell people to help with this. So, when he has put down his querulous quill, perhaps he can give Arash a kick up the saddle and help us all get Bike Polite.