Thursday, 6 December 2012

WAR! Cyclists v Motorists! Well done BBC...

I assume most of us watched the BBC1 show "War on Britain's Roads" last night?
The show opens with the thought that, if Bradley Wiggins, best cyclist in the world can get hit, then what hope is there for the rest of us?! Putting people off cycling done, the rest of it was antagonistic from start to finish.

The first of the talking heads is the harshly edited cyclegaz. He "likes to go fast because he can". Sigh. Clearly put there to grab non cyclists' attention, the very fact that the show opens with such an arrogant line just showed the tone it was going to take for the next hour.

The idea of a "war" was pushed throughout the show. Even down to the fact that the cyclist talking heads were all in cycle clothes "uniforms", and the non-cyclists were in "smart" clothes, helping to reinforce the agenda of the programme throughout that it's two tribes up against each other.

The show continues with a couple more minutes of head cam footage, talking heads from cyclists and the voice over ominously says, "but as always, there's two sides to every story..." Sigh. Once again implying that it is and should be cyclists v motorists out there. All that does is ramp up the hatred between the unnecessarily divided cyclists and motorists.

Later on cyclegaz is shown adopting the primary position in places where it is not safe for people to overtake, pinch points, hill crests and the like. Of course, the editors don't mention that it is perfectly legal for cyclists to do this, instead choosing to show footage of a driver once again being antagonised by this. Spewing bile and hatred at the cyclist for not being on the left hand side. Surprising. Not.

Later, we're introduced to a HGV driver and a London cab driver. (Not the one having the argument at the start) The latter, and again, I'm sure he's a lovely bloke, but the show edited him to talk about cyclists whizzing all around him and him being forced to check all of his mirrors blah blah blah. What a chore it must be to make sure it's safe to move and not injure people. At one point he approaches some red lights and offered "even odds" that a cyclist in the shot would jump the red light. Now, how many times did he have to say that before they caught one, and how many times had they already witnessed that particular cyclist jump a red light to know to get the cameras rolling because they would do it again. The London cabbie then launches into a bit of a mini rant about how cyclists don't have registration plates and if they did, they wouldn't do it. If he did it, his plate would get read and he'd get a fine.
Come on Mr cab driver, even odds is overly harsh. The majority of cyclists stop at red and those who don't, we hate as much as you do.

And then we come onto the show makers pièce de résistance. If motorists watching don't already want to squash every cyclist they meet on the next mornings commute, they will after this. The cycle couriers racing each other through the street was disgracefully presented as every day real life. It makes no mention of the fact that this was professional cycling stunts, commercially filmed over six years ago.

Ian Austin MP, said the show was "stupid, sensationalist, simplistic, irresponsible nonsense".
He said it "was about as representative of ordinary cycling in Britain as a James Bond car chase is of ordinary driving".

The London Cycling Campaign has "strongly condemned the show because it misrepresents London’s cyclists in a way likely to create tension on the streets, putting vulnerable road users at greater risk."

Which is exactly what I thought as the programme went on. How many people are going to have watched this show last night and react to me as a cyclist on my commute tomorrow as a result? Well, a car driver called me a twat as I passed him in a queue, a van driver spat at me and a pedestrian watched me approach and when I was five meters away intentionally stepped into the cycle lane. I'm not saying that's all down to the show, but three arseholes in one morning? I've been cycle commuting for a month now and haven't had one up until now.

I'm not saying that every cyclist is a saint, because quite plainly, they're not. The same as not every HGV, cab, bus, car, motorbike driver aren't saints either. We all make mistakes, we all do things we shouldn't and the small minority of people in each group give the rest a bad name.

The real issue wasn't mentioned until the last 30 seconds of the show. With the mother of the cyclist killed by a cement mixer saying that we all need to work together to improve the roads and the cabbie saying that the roads are not properly designed for both cyclist and car and that we all might as well not use them. Better late than never I thought. They're finally going to play down the "war" and talk about how we should all be on the same side in getting road planners and local government to sort things out to make it better for all of us... Nope. Roll credits. Sigh.

Connect with Levenes Cycle:
Blog Homepage Follow us on Twitter Connect with us on Facebook Connect with us on Google+ Get blog updates via Email Contact Us Subscribe to our Feed Catch us on YouTube

No comments:

Post a Comment