Next week, Channel 5 is screening a documentary called Cyclists: Scourge Of The Streets? and if the advance publicity is anything to go by, describing it as a look at a so-called “war of the wheels,” it’s unlikely to be sympathetic to people on bicycles as well as being far from the first programme to examine a perceived “us versus them” mentality between those using different forms of transport to get around.
The broadcaster has commissioned the documentary from Firecracker Films, whose past productions include Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Mums Make Porn and The Sex Clinic, according to C21media.net.
The website says: “With increasing numbers of people in the UK choosing to cycle rather than drive, tensions between cyclists and motorists are on the rise.
“The producers say the doc will ask whether all cyclists are rule-breakers and road-hoggers, not adhering to the same laws as everyone else, or if motorists have just as much to answer for.”
Realscreen.com provides a bit more detail, saying that the documentary “will provide an unfiltered look at the enduring war between cyclists and motorists in England.
“The film will meet a variety of characters, from the cabbies of London and the residents of Surrey who no longer feel safe driving on local roads, to the cyclists patrolling the UK’s highways and law enforcement officials attempting to make the roadways a safer place for everyone who uses them.”
Executive producer Elspeth O’Hare of Firecracker Scotland, quoted on Realscreen.com, said: “This documentary promises to be an eye-opener for drivers and cyclists across the country,” said Firecracker Scotland’s O’Hare in a statement.
Of course, it’s impossible to judge the programme until after it airs next Tuesday evening, and it could be that it will be a well-balanced piece of reporting that highlights the dangers cyclists face on a daily basis from other road users.
More likely, we fear, is that it will help reinforce misconceptions held by many motorists about cyclists and how the law applies to them, as well as continuing the tribal narrative seen in past programmes such as the 2012 BBC documentary, The War On Britain’s Roads.
In its listing for the programme, which will be broadcast at 9.15pm next Tuesday 9 July, Channel 5 says simply: “There is growing tension between two wheels and four.”
The documentary is already receiving criticism on Twitter due to its title, with this tweet attracting more than 100 retweets and 400 likes on the social network.
Dear Media - where do I even begin with this. having a show like this https://t.co/VQzuVfgQke is not helpful to moms like me (or any other human)- who CYCLE. We are human beings. Parents, families. friends. colleagues. HUMANS. @Chris_Boardman @ShanazeReade
— CycleCharterCoord (@CyclingCharCoor) July 3, 2019
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.