Cyclists vs drivers - the movie. The War on Britains Roads aired earlier this week

(Unfortunately, subsequent to my posting the video of the program it’s been taken down by the copyright holder. Here’s a suggested way around the problem).

The war on Britain’s roads, shown on Wednesday by the BBC, caused lots of controversy. Armed with footage from helmet-mounted cameras, it looks at the conflict – “the war” – between cyclists and drivers.

TV shows about everyday cycling are pretty rare, but regional rights deals mean we can’t view this one on the BBC’s site. Fortunately someone posted it to Youtube (see exhibit).

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There were some strong reactions in the British media.

According to The Guardian:

Tony Hall, the new BBC director general, has his first controversy on his hands, albeit a small one, a full three months before he officially arrives. Two surprises: firstly it’s not a row confected by the Daily Mail or Sun; second, it’s about cycling. I wrote at length about the many flaws of a documentary scheduled to go out at peak time on BBC1 this Wednesday, breathlessly-titled The War on Britain’s Roads. I realise I’m viewing it through the prism of being a keen cyclist, but even so it’s genuinely one of the more silly, badly-made BBC programmes I’ve seen in a long time.

According to road.cc:

BBC One yesterday evening aired its controversial documentary The War on Britain’s Roads. By inaccurately presenting cyclists and motorists as polar opposites in a bid to sensationalise the issue, the broadcaster missed an opportunity to make a constructive contribution to the road safety debate that is being pursued elsewhere – most notably, in the press, led by The Times, and Parliament, due to the efforts of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group with support from cycle campaigners.

According to The Indendent:

A prime-time documentary that promises to deal with cycle safety couldn’t come at a better time. Weeks after Bradley Wiggins’ bruising encounter with a van, the number of cyclist deaths in Britain this year hovers at a record 112. It also comes as the perception of conflict on our roads threatens an Olympic gold-plated bike boom of the sort not seen for generations. But cyclists and drivers have accused the BBC of presenting a woefully distorted picture.

And the MailOnline:

A blogger who took part in a controversial BBC documentary highlighting the daily battle between drivers and cyclists on Britain’s roads has become the target of death threats and vile abuse from motorists. Gareth Williams, 24, provided the BBC with footage filmed using a helmet camera for The War on Britain’s Roads which was aired last night. But the urban cyclist has since been inundated with hate messages with many taking to Twitter accusing him of being ‘antagonistic’ and ‘confrontational’ towards drivers.

Yes, it’s sensational and over-dramatises the real dangers of cycling, which unfortunately will probably put some potential cyclists off (and the hell-ride sequence was just stupid). Nevertheless, I could empathise with the cyclists. I know exactly what they’re talking about.

(Pending the video becoming available as a torrent, you can always watch the Dogs taught to drive and PM announces end of world videos again).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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