‘It’s dressed up prejudice’: Chris Boardman criticises Channel 5 show that asks if cyclists are the scourge of the streets

Channel 5 has responded to the criticism, claiming the show is a 'balanced documentary'

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

A Channel 5 show asking if cyclists are the scourge of the streets has been branded “dressed up prejudice” by cycling campaigner and former Olympian Chris Boardman.

The one-off show ‘Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets’, which aired on Tuesday (July 9), was called "an unfiltered look at both sides of the fence" by its makers, but many have criticised the programme for targeting cyclists.

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman and British Cycling have responded to the documentary, pointing out that thousands of people are killed or injured by drivers each year, while the number of people hurt by cyclists is significantly lower.

Channel 5 has responded to the criticism, claiming the show is "a balanced documentary" that includes contributions from police, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

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

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In a statement, the makers of the new show said: “The big bike boom has caused a mighty backlash from hacked off motorists who see cyclists as rule-breaking know-it-alls, who freewheel all over our cities, hog road space and don’t have to adhere to the same laws as everyone else. But motorists themselves have a lot to answer for – when it comes to causing serious harm on the roads, it’s drivers who are mainly to blame.

“Tensions between two and four wheels have never been more fraught. We’re saddling up and belting up with riders and drivers from across the UK to tell the story of the turf war for Britain’s roads.

“This is an unfiltered look at both sides of the fence.”

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."

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