The BBC are due to air a programme this Wednesday (6th December), called ‘War on Britain’s Roads’.
The advance publicity on the BBC website says:
Life on Britain’s roads can now be seen from a whole new perspective – thanks to the cycle helmet camera. As thirty-four million vehicles and thirteen million bikes all try to share the same crowded space, this footage gives us a dramatic and unique insight into the unfolding tension and conflict.
From everyday incidents that get out of hand between cyclists and motorists, to stories of near-death experiences and fatal collisions, this timely documentary shows the battle between two wheels and four has never been so intense.
The Guardian has included a video on their website with clips from the programme. I have to say that there is nothing new about these as they have been on Youtube for a while. So I wonder how much original footage there is in the programme. According the Guardian, this isn’t even genuine footage of cyclists’ everyday experiences with motorists but the “ footage actually comes from a professionally-shot commercial film of cycle couriers staging a breakneck race through central London”.
But is it really that bad out there? And there is already a debate going on which suggests that the documentary might make matters worse. As a cyclist of several years’ experience both on the roads of inner London as well as rural Essex I have to agree.
Sure there are some total assholes out on the roads, both motorists and cyclists alike. And tossers like Jeremy Clarkson do not make matters any easier. But there are also a lot of very courteous drivers. Like the person last week who slowed down and signalled for me to go at a roundabout when he had the right of way. Like the number of cars who do allow plenty of room when they pass. And when a motorist does toot his horn as he is going past, it might just be to let me know that he is passing rather than an aggressive “get the fuck out-of-the-way”.
Yes of course there are motorists that do put cyclists’ lifes at risk and I have had experience of these several times, and they do grab the headlines. But, I would suggest, these drivers would equally put pedestrians’ lives at risk.
And cyclists are no angels either. Every day on my commute to work I regularly see cyclists jump red lights. And if a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the results can be pretty devastating. But then, I have lost count of the number of pedestrians that step out in front of me or who just stroll along cycle lanes without realising they have two legs and not two wheels.
I am looking forward to see how the documentary presents its case though and on Thursday may very well comment on this blog post that all motorists should be banned from the road.