Hundreds of complaints sent to Ofcom over Channel 5 show ‘Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets?’

The programme faced huge backlash and was accused of ‘prejudice’

Cyclists wait at a red light in London (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hundreds of complaints were lodged with the television watchdog Ofcom after Channel 5 aired the controversial show ‘Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets?’

The programme, which claimed to give “an unfiltered look at both sides of the fence,” aired on July 9 and explored hostility between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

But the show was heavily criticised by cycling campaigners, including Chris Boardman and British Cycling, who called the show “dressed up prejudice.”

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The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the broadcasting regulator, has published its monthly bulletin listing the complaints it received from the public.

Ofcom has revealed it received 327 complains against Cyclists: Scourge of Our Streets?

The show was condemned by a number of prominent pro-cycling voices, including The Guardian’s Peter Walker who called it “irresponsible, inaccurate and generally awful.”

Channel 5 responded to the criticism at the time, claiming the show is “a balanced documentary” that includes contributions from police, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

In a short video posted on social media Boardman, who is now the first ever walking and cycling commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Asking whether cyclists are the ‘scourge of our streets’ isn’t a hard-hitting, evidence-based documentary, it’s just dressed up prejudice and it does us all a disservice.

“By and large, those ‘street demons’ are mothers, fathers, grandparents and children all doing their bit to make Britain a healthier, greener and more liveable place.

“More people riding bikes is exactly what we need as a society, as a species, if we’re going to tackle big issues like rising obesity, congestion, pollution and of course the global climate crisis.”

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When approached for comment on the criticism, a spokesperson for Channel 5 said: “Without public roads becoming ever more congested, this balanced documentary speaks to a range of contributors including the police, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to explore the daily challenges and issues faced by those who use them.”

Channel 5 declined to comment about the Ofcom complaints.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.