A member of parliament has branded a forthcoming BBC documentary about cyclists and drivers as “stupid, sensationalist, simplistic, irresponsible nonsense”.

The ‘War on Britain’s Roads’ will be broadcast on Wednesday, and includes footage of irresponsible behaviour of road users which the BBC calls “the battle that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts”.

Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group has requested that the BBC ensures the broadcast film portrays a properly balanced view of all road users, and avoids over-sensationalising the issue.

“I am not in favour of banning programmes, but I don’t see why garbage like this should be produced in the first place and if the BBC insists on showing it, they have a duty to ensure that it is placed in context and the real issues around cycling and driving in Britain are discussed properly on its other programmes,” said Austin.

“I cycle in London every day I’m there and have cycled all over Britain, and whilst I do see drivers and cyclists do things they shouldn’t, I have never seen some of the things they present as everyday occurrences.

“Nine out of 10 cyclists also drive cars, so it is not just dangerous and irresponsible to promote a culture of confrontation on the roads which will make cycling and driving both more dangerous, but also stupid and inaccurate.

“All road users should obey the rules of the road and treat each other with consideration and respect. That’s the message we should be giving.”

The BBC has said that the programme “shows both sides of the story, retelling dramatic incidents from both the cyclist’s and driver’s point of view”.

“It follows the police on bikes as they chase down errant road users and record more than three thousand offences every year from car and bike users alike. We even see a cyclist who is attempting to police the roads himself, handing out his own ‘tickets’ for anything from texting behind the wheel, to jumping a red light.”

The ‘War on Britain’s Road’ will be shown at 9pm on BBC One, Wednesday December 5. A preview clip of the programme can be seen on the BBC website.

The safety of Britain’s cyclists has been pushed high on the political agenda this year after the Times newspaper created its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign in February. The campaign has been backed by leading MPs from each of the main political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last week, the government announced an extra £20 million in funding for cycling infrastructure in Britain.

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Government announces extra £20 million for cycling

  • Mark Fardon

    Would it be a good idea to get all drivers to take a cycling proficiency test before they can drive? Obviously, that means the cyclists will have to as well, but maybe that will develop a synergy between everyone. Maybe another job for British Cycling and/or CTC and/or qualified coaches (BC and/or ABCC)???
    Isn’t it a good idea to promote voluntary feel-good instead of compulsory loggerheads?

  • Ken Evans

    I am sure Jimmy Savile would have loved ! The BBC is in enough problems already, without making another bad programme, to add to the long long list, (Newsnight). The poor starving management just aren’t paid enough money, and don’t get enough perks !

  • Bikez

    I watched the program and thought it “fairly” well balanced. We all know that vehicular drivers can be idiots (hardly a ride goes by without me remonstrating with a driver(s)) The point most drivers in the program seemed to me to miss is that their one ton plus vehicle is very likely to cause significant injury (or worse) just so they can make a point of some sort. The gentleman in the silver cab would not see the error of his way, he even said that that he had passed the cyclist when the cyclist thumped the side of his cab – 10ft long arms? I don’t think so. It was a program I thought that all motorists and cyclists should watch. I’ve been a serious cyclist for many decades but I do feel I’m on “borrowed time”.

  • Steve Blowers

    I watched this program and thought it fair and balanced. I commute to work everyday and it is a fair representation of how things are on the road. Apart from being punched in the head and/or killed, pretty much everything else you see in this program has happened to me. I agree with CP 100%. Let’s just be nice to each other!

  • CP

    Well Wow!

    Just watched it and I personally thought it was brilliant. Very well done the BBC.

    I thought it concentrated on the serious issue side and properly so.
    Certainly the vast majority of journeys take place without incident and I am thankfull everyday that I can enjoy my cycle without one and if that happens then I think that I am getting it right but I am always learning!!!

    That lady who lost her daughter is amazing. Well done to her.

    Cyclists slapping taxis, runing down walkers and those London race guy’s are horrendous and make me worry more about cycling than anything. They show that they simply will not share the road resources. Slow down a bit, shake your head at the guy who comes close, be a bit frustrated but slow down, drive defensively, let them make a mistake but make sure you saw it comming and had already acted to avoid a disaster. Sometimes of course this will just not be possible. I found having driven a motorcycle for a while and having done the licence test greatly helps me with this.

    Cyclists wearing headphones is absolutely insane. My ears are my best defense in listening to vehicle engines especially behind to tell me a lot of what is happeneing, how they are approaching, how close etc.

    I also have driven cars for a long time over many miles and I have never met the perfect driver. None of us are but if we have curtisy and consideration for other road users it can go a long way. Always smile and acknowledge other considerate drivers.

    For me in the docuamentary most of the cyclists shown were not how I as a cyclist wish to act or be perceived. I have met such cyclists while cycling and they are a danger to me on the road also. As far as I am cencerned if they were taken off the road it would be a good thing for all but with the way they drive its proabably only a matter of time before they are taken off in an accident.

    I have not discoverd “the joys of Lycra,” as one person put it? but I don’t use roads or public paths as a racetrack as many seem to.

    Basically cyclists don’t mix with traffic on roads or with pedestrians on paths. We have a rather large problem?

    Bikes are a fantastic form of transport, definitely healthy and clean but I think we cyclists as a whole have a lot of improving to do.

    I will continue to try an rein in my impulses to take any chances and seeing that my journeys are less fraught with this approach gives me encouragement. I recognise that the infastructure is not there and that I am using roads basically made only for vehilcles so I know my place and watch out and I still get fit and get where I am going in one piece so far.

    I hope things will get better but it seems certainly currently to be a big mess, as was very clearly portrayed in that neccesary program. I even think it may make car drivers a bit more carefull and I hope cyclist will do their part but some of things shown by cyclists are simply not on.

    We cannot as cyclists have a mindset were we think that everything we do is absolutely correct as seemed to be in the film. We are not perfect as neither are vehilce drivers. We all must simply recognise this and make more allowance.

    It seems a cycling test is not far off and looking at this program I would have to think that if nothing changes then it will become necessary and compulsory. It’s just getting to dangerous and vehicle slappers with camera’s won’t be enough to fix anything in fact these people seem to be adding more to the antagonism.

  • Terry

    Idiot drivers AND idiot cyclists should be punished- simples.
    The cycle kamakasi couriers featured in tonight’s programme should be made to spend the day in a casualty dept. and a night in the morgue.
    Not sure the all the cyclists in the programme did cycling’s cause much good, but hats off to the mother who is doing something constructive.

  • Mortimer

    It is not that one group is worse than the other (motorists/cyclists), but simply that there are reckless individuals out there who, put behind the wheel or on a bike, will act recklessly. Its about personalities. I get fed up hearing that all motorists are dangerous as I do that all cyclists are irresponsible. The show is only likely to highlight the fact that there are people on the roads who don’t consider the consequences of their actions, whether rider or driver!

  • James Davison

    At the risk of prejudging the programme, I don’t think cyclists will come out of the programme very well. I reckon it will try to portray us as aggressive, law ignoring risk takers. I do not want to be tarred with the same brush as the minority of cyclists who flaunt the laws of the road. I do not want the judgement of the driver trying to overtake me being compromised by a belief that I’m another one of ‘those bloody cyclists’ which programmes like this encourage.

  • david jarman

    while cycling should be just as safe way of travel as driving a car, cyclist need to realise that the highway code is for them too, not just car drivers. red light means stop. footpath is for walkers not to dodge around lights etc. pedestrian crossing are for walking across not cycling. ( push your bike across willing but not ride across it) when a lorry has an indicator on to turn left and moves to the right it is not to give room for the cyclist to go down the side, but to give his trailer room so not hitting the curbs railing etc. that car stopped at the lights is not there for a cyclist to prop his self up on . fed up of cyclist thinking its ok to put they hand on my roof. too lazy to take their foot off the pedal? fed up of cyclist squeezing through small gaps catching my wing mirrors.
    we all have the right to use the road but do so sensibly and safely with thought for others

  • Pete

    I would suggest complaining to the BBC. Either now to remind them how many folks think it’s unacceptable, or if they persist in showing it, then afterwards.


    Personally I think the popularisation of the Top Gear mindset has helped create thousands of irresponsible motorists. A recent editorial in CW highlighted the hateful responses in a Wiggins related Daily Mail article – it’s these cretins that need to be educated, who need controlling. This BBC documentary risks encouraging these same idiots.

  • dai bananas brother

    Looks like a ‘fun’ hour. Won’t be watching myself, Following the ‘Newsnight’ shenanigans you take the BBC about as seriously as the UCI at this moment in time. Dai’s missus is off with her darts team for a top-of-the-table encounter at Aber Con. Club also. Da iawn fawr, pob

  • Phil Riley

    Phil Appleby, It’s not possible to defend your right to be on the road with too much gusto or vigour. I’ve been cycling for 35 years and only been hit by a car once. I put that down too defending my right too be on the road.

  • Mat Kudinoff

    I read with interest this article (which I was directed from by another website http://www.adelaidecyclists.com/forum/topics/war-on-britain-s-roads). Anything that will help ensure the safe passage of cyclist through a city and make motorists aware I am all for. Unfortunately in this new world, it seems we are the pariah, all souls should be able to traverse safely on common paths.

  • Phil Appleby

    Andy… while I’m sorry about all your crashes/incidents, and we we all know that cyclists are vulnerable and run the risk of sever injury, I think you missed the point of this article.

    No one is denying that car drivers can often be idiots and be the root cause of road accidents between cars and cyclists. Similarly, I doubt few here would argue that cyclists can also sometimes be their own worst enemy. I know I can be. When cycling, I find it hard not to be an aggressive rider and lay claim to my right to the road with a little too much gusto and vigor.

    The point of this article is not that these things don’t happen, it’s that the MP is saying that they don’t happen as regularly as the program is suggesting. We won’t be able to tell until the program has aired whether it’s as sensationalist as the MP suggests, or if the program is about right and the MP has had to tow the party line to minimise it’s impact.

    I’d imagine it’s a bit of both.

  • Andy Turner

    I am only 17 and have been riding seriously the last 2 years and the amount of stupid drivers I see is rediculous. I am not over hyping this since I have been hit by 2 vans and a car while riding responsibly. The amount of close calls I have had are exceptional with mothers overtaking me in the school rush and then turning in on me while they are overtaking (that is the worst example and not a common one I hope). The time when I got hit by a car (the vans were at slow speeds and left me only grazed) I was indicating that I was turning left and a guy coming onto the roundabout didn’t look and went straight into the side of me sending flying onto the road and my head, I had no chance to brake. As a result of this I have been left suffering from severe headaches for the past 4 months with not much hope on the horizon. This entire documentary is to show drivers that they can cause severe damage to cyclists by not paying attention let alone driving dangerously. I was hit while riding at a sensible speed by someone who simply did not look properly and I was very lucky not to have been more severely injured at a collision of around 40mph. I look forward to watching this documentary to see what stupid drivers can do to people (sorry that sounds bad) and I hope that this enlightens the driving population to be safer, and also cyclists. I know that some of the times the cyclist is at fault but the majority of the time the blame seems to belong to the drivers.