MP condemns 'sensationalist' BBC cycling documentary

General cycling, commuting

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.

Related links

Government announces extra £20 million for cycling