A documentary on the “war” between cyclists and drivers, which aired on BBC One last week, has been described as “stupid, sensationalist, simplistic, irresponsible nonsense” (Telegraph).
The comments came from Ian Austin, joint chair of the Parliamentary Cycling Group and Labour MP for Dudley North, about the programme, titled ‘The War On Britain’s Roads’, which claimed a battle is raging between cyclists and drivers.
The hour-long documentary was aired against a backdrop of rising cyclist casualties and demands for investment in infrastructure to make it safer to ride a bike.
The aim of the documentary was to offer an insight into the daily conflict between cyclists and motorists. Footage from cycle helmet cameras provided a close-up view of the unfolding tension and conflict.
But Ian Austin described the programme as “about as representative of ordinary cycling in Britain as a James Bond car chase is of ordinary driving”.
He added: “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.
“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.”
A BBC spokesman defended the documentary, saying: “The War On Britain’s Roads is a serious examination of the relationship between cyclists and other road users.
“It uses actual footage of real incidents to provoke discussion and investigates the outcomes and consequences of several of the incidents captured. Raising awareness of these issues, on a prime time BBC One programme, can only be a positive thing for both cyclists and other road users.”