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"Mums, dads, sons and daughters being labelled as killers. It’s just got to stop": Chris Boardman comments on Telegraph '52mph in a 20mph zone' article as it emerges co-author is former BBC fact-checker

Boardman was one of numerous prominent figures to comment on the inaccuracies in the Telegraph article, while the husband of Kim Briggs has commented on the backlash sparked by the Government's proposal to introduce new dangerous cycling laws...

The backlash to a Telegraph article published on Thursday evening that claimed a cyclist was clocked riding at 52mph in a 20mph zone on Chelsea Embankment has caught the attention of Chris Boardman and numerous other prominent figures, with Boardman describing the article as "hate speech" in an X/Twitter post last night. It has also emerged that the co-author of the controversial Telegraph article, currently a data editor at the broadsheet, is a former fact-checker at BBC Reality Check, now known as BBC Verify. 

Boardman's full post read: "I don’t normally get involved in calling out headlines but it’s just getting bonkers.

"If this was directed at a gender, race or religion it would be rightly called out as the hate speech it is. Mums, dads, sons and daughters being labelled as killers. It’s just got to stop."

The Sky Sports News presenter Sanny Rudravajhala also expressed his anger at the article's inaccuracies, addressing the authors on X/Twitter: "Your whole piece centres on injuries and deaths from cyclists without anything to compare it with. Four deaths caused by cyclists for example versus say the 1,711 from cars in 2022?

"Or 143,326 injuries from car accidents versus the 462 from cyclists that you mention.

"And bloody hell, this quote, “Strava enthusiasts claim dangerous cyclists are a small minority.” - I mean, clearly they are? Or are the majority of Strava cyclists dangerous?

"I just cannot imagine compromising my entire journalistic training to the point of providing no balance whatsoever bar one random rider vox in an entire piece. Please do better."

Jeremy Vine commented: "...The Telegraph is in full culture-war mode, and hating on cyclists is seen as an easy win."

The inaccurate headline on the article in question remains unchanged at the time of writing. As we reported yesterday, an 80kg cyclist on an 8kg bike would have to hold 2,500 watts to ride the Tite St to Chelsea Bridge Strava segment at 52mph, which would be physically impossible for the world's best cycling sprint specialists.

road.cc has approached the Telegraph's data editor for comment. 

The current glut of media coverage around 'dangerous cycling' was sparked by a recent coroner's inquest into the tragic case of 81-year-old Hilda Griffiths, killed in a collision with a cyclist in Regent's Park back in 2022, with the inquest being told that the cyclist would face no charges. 

Last weekend, the Telegraph reported that another pedestrian was hit by a cyclist at the same spot where Ms Griffiths was fatally struck. Strava responded by urging cyclists to "prioritise everyone's safety", stating that "hazardous" segments could be flagged on its platform. 

Earlier this week, the Government agreed to introduce tougher laws for "dangerous cyclists" who kill or injure. The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, put forward by Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, would introduce the offence of ‘causing death by dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, and causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate cycling', with Transport Secretary Mark Harper saying the proposed legislation would ensure the “tiny minority” of reckless cyclists would face the “full weight of the law”, while protecting “law-abiding cyclists”.

> "You’re not going to legislate away these sort of incidents": Martin Porter KC on cycling and the law

The son of Hilda Griffiths, Gerard Griffiths, has appeared in television interviews this week accompanied by Matthew Briggs, the husband of Kim Briggs who was killed in a collision with cyclist Charlie Alliston in 2016

Mr Briggs has long campaigned for changes to the law surrounding dangerous cycling, saying at the time of Alliston's conviction that the "case [has] clearly demonstrated that there is a gap in the law when it comes to dealing with causing death or serious injury by dangerous cycling."

In 2017, Alliston was convicted of causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving, via a law that dates back to 1861, and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment in a young offenders institution.

Commenting this morning on recent debates he has had with a number of prominent cycling and active travel campaigners and journalists, Mr Briggs said on the @BriggsCampaign X/Twitter account: "Any road death is an absolute tragedy. I know the awful consequences. My point has always been that motor related deaths have clear paths to prosecution. If it’s felt that they are not done so adequately, that’s a valid but different debate to my call for new laws. 

"We ALL share these imperfect roads. We are ALL pedestrians at some point. And we owe it to ALL that we conduct ourselves on the roads with care, consideration and awareness. 

"This has never been anti cycling. If people attribute that to me, they are misled. It’s always been a legal matter."

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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72 comments

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chrisonabike replied to a1white | 1 month ago
0 likes

We get very limited "education" or training in using public spaces:

a) as children (mostly from parents).  Of course, we could do more of this...
b) driving lessons plus driving test, for those who do.  Once per lifetime.

There's also a very rare:

c) being stopped by road police.

However we get a great deal of repeated feedback - by using the roads!  Other road users are the main "teachers".

I suspect the main way things "work" and people learn is through practice.  Maybe we could do it differently, but historically ... we haven't.  When we changed from no / few motor vehicles to "mass motoring" and vulnerable road users had to adapt was this mainly done though education / awareness campaigns?  No.  (There were some...)

Unfortunately it was practical learning - tragedies, repeated unpleasant experiences, witnessing terrible things or reading horror stories.  Learning "what was no longer your space" and developing caution / fear ("appropriate respect").

So if mass cycling takes hold, it's likely there will be some initial conflict between modes and indeed a lot more collisions.  Because the mass of people cycling will be no "better people" or "careful road users" than when they were driving cars.

Fortunately a) we have a slightly better regard for human life now b) we've developed our understanding of "human factors" and public infra design c) cyclists are less danger than drivers (mass cycling: they'll mostly be going significantly slower and they weight less) and I don't think you can get to mass cycling without overall system being safer for everyone - that includes most pedestrians. (Slight question mark as usual about how best to cater for the visually impaired).

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VIPcyclist | 1 month ago
4 likes

The circulation of the Daily Torygraph is about 360,000. Not many really. If I think I can change someone's mind through education then it's worth talking to them. Otherwise I find it better to save my energy for elsewhere and leave them to munch on that red meat. It is my opinion that most Torygraph readers munch red meat.

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eburtthebike replied to VIPcyclist | 1 month ago
5 likes

But then stories get shared a thousand times on social media.

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stonojnr replied to VIPcyclist | 1 month ago
7 likes

But its like a domino effect, Telegraph prints a story thats anti cycling, before long its picked up by the other tabloids repeating the same lies, then its picked up by the news channels repeating the same lies none questioning the facts because they hide behind the Telegraph reported, so it must be true.

Iain Duncan Smith often writes comment pieces for the Telegraph, where do you think his burning desire to tag cycling into the crime bill came from ?

Not the government, if they were that bothered about some kind of culture war on cycling, they'd have included it from the off.

But now we have an MP championing the Telegraph's cause and introducing legislation on the back of one story

So it goes way beyond circulation figures.

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narch replied to VIPcyclist | 1 month ago
2 likes

True, but it only took 81,000 people (Most of them probably telegraph readers) to leave you with the inexplicable embarrassment of Liz Truss is your Prime Minister.

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Car Delenda Est | 2 months ago
11 likes

Very anecdotal but it seems this has put people on edge around cyclists.
I work for a mostly pedal powered courier company and on Friday I was reported to my boss by a member of the public for cycling in a shared path..

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BalladOfStruth replied to Car Delenda Est | 1 month ago
7 likes

Of course it has. This is why shit like this winds me up so much - it’s not like I’m thin-skinned, but the constant dehumanisation, demonisation, and disproportionate scrutiny of cyclists does very much embolden those with existing anti-cyclist leanings and makes them feel justified in lashing out.

Every time there’s a campaign against cyclists in the MSM, it noticeably translates to an increase of aggression towards us on the roads. You saw it when the media lied about the HC changes, you saw it when Dan Walker was hit by a car “because he should have been in the cycle lane”.

Stories like this directly lead to cyclist deaths.

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hawkinspeter replied to BalladOfStruth | 1 month ago
2 likes
BalladOfStruth wrote:

Of course it has. This is why shit like this winds me up so much - it’s not like I’m thin-skinned, but the constant dehumanisation, demonisation, and disproportionate scrutiny of cyclists does very much embolden those with existing anti-cyclist leanings and makes them feel justified in lashing out.

Every time there’s a campaign against cyclists in the MSM, it noticeably translates to an increase of aggression towards us on the roads. You saw it when the media lied about the HC changes, you saw it when Dan Walker was hit by a car “because he should have been in the cycle lane”.

Stories like this directly lead to cyclist deaths.

Sorry, but they don't "directly" lead to cyclist deaths, although they may be a factor. The real issue is with emotionally immature drivers that believe that their vehicle and how they drive is part of their personality. What we need to do is remove the drivers who let emotions lead their decision making when in charge of a vehicle - they are the real problem as they can be highly strung and react violently if anyone dares to comment on their driving skill.

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wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
2 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
BalladOfStruth wrote:

Of course it has. This is why shit like this winds me up so much - it’s not like I’m thin-skinned, but the constant dehumanisation, demonisation, and disproportionate scrutiny of cyclists does very much embolden those with existing anti-cyclist leanings and makes them feel justified in lashing out.

Every time there’s a campaign against cyclists in the MSM, it noticeably translates to an increase of aggression towards us on the roads. You saw it when the media lied about the HC changes, you saw it when Dan Walker was hit by a car “because he should have been in the cycle lane”.

Stories like this directly lead to cyclist deaths.

Sorry, but they don't "directly" lead to cyclist deaths, although they may be a factor. The real issue is with emotionally immature drivers that believe that their vehicle and how they drive is part of their personality. What we need to do is remove the drivers who let emotions lead their decision making when in charge of a vehicle - they are the real problem as they can be highly strung and react violently if anyone dares to comment on their driving skill.

simple test to find these people, anyone buying a car with more than 200bhp, probably not a mature driver treating their car as a tool, but rather as a toy or an expression of their virility.

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BalladOfStruth replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
5 likes

I disagree - when the majority of anti-cyclist sentiment is a result of decades stories in the MSM (we know it’s nothing to do with how cyclist act because we can see from statistics how disproportionate it is, and other road user groups don’t get held to anything like the same standard), they are the root cause of the problem. When a driver that has bought into the rhetoric reads a Torygraph anti-cyclist hit-piece and decides to punish the next cyclist he sees, screws it up and accidentally hits them, that story has led to that collision.

Every time there’s an anti-cyclist campaign in the MSM, you can go out an observe the uptick in aggression on the roads. That uptick absolutely leads to more cyclists getting hit.

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hawkinspeter replied to BalladOfStruth | 1 month ago
4 likes
BalladOfStruth wrote:

I disagree - when the majority of anti-cyclist sentiment is a result of decades stories in the MSM (we know it’s nothing to do with how cyclist act because we can see from statistics how disproportionate it is, and other road user groups don’t get held to anything like the same standard), they are the root cause of the problem. When a driver that has bought into the rhetoric reads a Torygraph anti-cyclist hit-piece and decides to punish the next cyclist he sees, screws it up and accidentally hits them, that story has led to that collision.

Every time there’s an anti-cyclist campaign in the MSM, you can go out an observe the uptick in aggression on the roads. That uptick absolutely leads to more cyclists getting hit.

I don't dispute the malignancy of the MSM with regards to cycling, but they don't create angry drivers, they just rile up already angry drivers. As I said, these kinds of anti-cyclist nonsense pieces can indirectly lead to more aggression on the roads, but they don't directly hurt cyclists (apart from the excessive rolling of eyeballs)

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grOg replied to hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
2 likes

Car companies market their vehicles as extensions of peoples personality and have done so forever; if only emotionally mature and stable people were allowed to drive, the roads would be remarkably empty.

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hawkinspeter replied to grOg | 1 month ago
4 likes
grOg wrote:

Car companies market their vehicles as extensions of peoples personality and have done so forever; if only emotionally mature and stable people were allowed to drive, the roads would be remarkably empty.

I've got no issue with people expressing their personality through the selection of a vehicle (including bikes) and maybe even customising it with shiny bits, but the problem is when people drive emotionally - anger is the real problem as a vehicle should never be used as a weapon. Someone can be as emotional as they like, but if it affects their driving then they shouldn't be on the road with other traffic.

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Rome73 | 2 months ago
16 likes

6 or 7 years (around the time of that brexthick thing) I worked on a project - funded by the EU and TfL that donated second hand, refurbished bikes to refugees and delivered free cycle training to Muslim women. I often thought to myself 'blimey, if the Daily Mail knew about this' lol. 😛 

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ubercurmudgeon | 2 months ago
8 likes
Quote:

"If this was directed at a gender, race or religion it would be rightly called out as the hate speech it is. Mums, dads, sons and daughters being labelled as killers. It’s just got to stop."

I agree, but Boardman is talking as if demonization of out-groups was a bug not a feature of right-wing rags like the Telegraph. As if they weren't going after cyclists now precisely because they can no longer get away with demonizing on the basis of gender, race, and religion, at least not as blatantly as they once could.

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marmotte27 replied to ubercurmudgeon | 2 months ago
3 likes

Yes. Which means it needs relentless calling out more, not less!
And it needs to stop, now!

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grOg replied to ubercurmudgeon | 1 month ago
0 likes

Is being left-wing a requirement to cycle? I missed that memo..

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hawkinspeter replied to grOg | 1 month ago
3 likes
grOg wrote:

Is being left-wing a requirement to cycle? I missed that memo..

It's more that the UK Tories have declared themselves the Party of the Motorist, so riding a bike is now almost a political statement. It's divisive claptrap - I welcome any political leaning to cycle as much as possible as it can provide common ground between people.

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HKR | 2 months ago
20 likes

Chapeau to Chris Boardman.    The Telegraph and Daily Mail agenda is a travesty.  I really hope all cyclists ignore these publications just as the people of Liverpool turned their backs on the Sun after its Hilsborough coverage.   

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brooksby | 2 months ago
20 likes
Quote:

"This has never been anti cycling. If people attribute that to me, they are misled. It’s always been a legal matter."

Oh bollux to that, Mr Briggs surpriseHow can you or IDS possibly say, with a straight face, that this is "not anti cycling"??

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the little onion replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
21 likes

And mr briggs is perfectly happy to align himself with cabbie lobbyists who are campaigning against things like tachometers in cabs, despite long shifts being the cause of several pedestrian deaths. 
 

He is anti cyclist, not pro pedestrian 

 

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Rendel Harris replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
10 likes
the little onion wrote:

And mr briggs is perfectly happy to align himself with cabbie lobbyists who are campaigning against things like tachometers in cabs, despite long shifts being the cause of several pedestrian deaths. 

And who swamp social media with complaints about how unfair it is that they might lose their badges for their illegal behaviour when caught using their phones at the wheel by grass cyclists.

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Oldfatgit replied to the little onion | 1 month ago
5 likes

Tachograph not tachometer.

Hate to be that person, but most cabs are already fitted with a tachometer ... It's otherwise known as a rev counter.

Tachograph on the other hand, is a recording device used to record speed, distance, time, work types and as they are digital nowadays (and not the paper disks I used to use), could easily record other functions such as throttle/ brake use, gps location, etc.

When the tachgraph was introduced, it was considered the "spy in the cab", as it gathers evidence to confirm adherence to the Law ...

So no surprise that cabbies are against them.

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stonojnr replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
2 likes

Apparently according to the latest Telegraph piece titled "I fought the blob after a cyclist killed my wife"

He popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate the announcement.

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HLaB replied to stonojnr | 1 month ago
4 likes

Took me a bit to process it last night after my 105 miler, at first I thought it was something new but it was the same old Charlie A case from 2016.  As tragic as they are and they should have been avoidable that and the old woman represent 2 pedestrian deaths from interaction with cyclists in circa 10 years.  Some statistician will know the numbers better than me but last year alone there was something like 385 pedestrians killed (5901 seriously injured) by vehicles.  That's the perspective that the rags miss out in the attempt to sell a story.

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Rendel Harris replied to HLaB | 1 month ago
1 like
HLaB wrote:

Took me a bit to process it last night after my 105 miler, at first I thought it was something new but it was the same old Charlie A case from 2016.  As tragic as they are and they should have been avoidable that and the old woman represent 2 pedestrian deaths from interaction with cyclists in circa 10 years. 

I think there are probably a few – though only a few – more than that, if you're talking about deaths from interactions with cyclists rather than cyclists necessarily at fault: there was one in Manchester two or three years ago where the cyclist was acquitted in court, and one in Tower Hamlets in 2021 where a 71-year-old man was killed by a red-light-jumping cyclist. There may be others, still a very small number but definitely more than two in the last decade.

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wycombewheeler replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
HLaB wrote:

Took me a bit to process it last night after my 105 miler, at first I thought it was something new but it was the same old Charlie A case from 2016.  As tragic as they are and they should have been avoidable that and the old woman represent 2 pedestrian deaths from interaction with cyclists in circa 10 years. 

I think there are probably a few – though only a few – more than that, if you're talking about deaths from interactions with cyclists rather than cyclists necessarily at fault: there was one in Manchester two or three years ago where the cyclist was acquitted in court, and one in Tower Hamlets in 2021 where a 71-year-old man was killed by a red-light-jumping cyclist. There may be others, still a very small number but definitely more than two in the last decade.

it's typically about one a year

so 385 pedestrian deaths a year seems to be ok, but 386 tick it over into "death trap" territory. I also don't think any of the cyclist/pestrian collison deaths occur on the pavement, which is sadly not the case for motor vehicles 

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stonojnr replied to HLaB | 1 month ago
6 likes

Yep, I think it shows how Briggs is motivated, it's not about road safety at all.

And as I've had to repeatedly point out to people this last week, 3 cyclists from my area of the UK have been killed on the roads in the last 12months by drivers, 4 if you go back another year, and they are only the ones I remember off hand, because I knew 2 of those cyclists killed.

not a single driver has faced any charges or been prosecuted for anything related to those deaths, there hasn't been any media outrage, MPs introducing new legislation, nothing it just gets treated as one of those things

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mattw replied to HLaB | 1 month ago
0 likes

The Telehgraph have been trying to generate increased numbers:

https://archive.ph/t6LPL

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jaymack replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
3 likes

How can the quite man of politics keep a straight face? 'Cos he's a Tory....

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