On Saturday, Safe Streets Now protests unfolded up and down the country, demanding justice for the victims of road danger and calling for a change to a society that "for decades prioritised the convenience of travelling by car at the expense of our safety".
One such protest, in Oxford, has become the centre of a misinformation row, the picture at the heart of the matter widely shared on Twitter apparently showing a large Volvo 4x4 with bike racks parked near the site of the demonstration, The Plain roundabout where University of Oxford academic Dr Ling Felce was killed while cycling in March of last year by an unlicensed lorry driver under the influence of drugs.
The car was that of someone attending the protest, a group called 'Cowley LTN’s #OneOX4' claimed. "How do you know it's pro-LTN protest day? When the NIMBYs park their 4x4 like this and unload their bikes for the photo op. You couldn't make it up."
Well, that last statement turned out to be incorrect, attendees including Green Party councillor Emily Kerr saying "that at no stage did we try to hold a photoshoot with bicycles", before another reply explained how the car actually belonged to someone from the local shops, not the protest.
Am amused by the fact that our Anti groups in Oxford are trying to spread rumours that we came to the protest by 4x4 and unloaded our bikes.
Apart from this being unlikely & untrue, our pics were of people not bikes.
— Cllr Emily Kerr 💚 (@EmilyKerr36) October 1, 2023
The picture and post remains on the account page of the group who says it represents "residents of Cowley and nearby who have not been consulted on the low-traffic neighbourhoods", the schemes which promote active travel by blocking through traffic in selected residential areas.
Since Saturday it has been viewed more than 20,000 times and shared by hundreds, including the local newspaper's 'print audience and content editor', who has since apologised and confirmed with the Oxford Mail's photographer who attended the event that no such "photo op" occured.
"It wasn't my post but apologies for retweet in error, subsequently undone on learning it was unconnected," he replied to one person pointing out the mistake.
Hi Richard, with my apologetic cap on, apologies for retweet - which was in error. (subsequently undone on learning it was unconnected). We have strong coverage of the event online already with more words and pictures in tomorrow’s paper. Take care
— Tim Hughes (@OxMailTimHughes) October 1, 2023
"Looks like you could indeed 'make it up'," Cllr Kerr concluded. "Also I mean just in terms of the balance of probability, on Oxford's student move-in weekend, a car with a bike rack dangerously parked is likely to be: A: a student moving in, who doesn’t know the area well. B: the people protesting the lack of road safety at THAT VERY SITE. C. The owner of the nearby shop who often parks there. I am going to come out and say option B isn't the first one which would occur to me."
In reply, the Oxford Mail's content editor said he was "happy to confirm" with the
newspaper's photographer who came to the protest that there was no bike photo op, and again added, "apologies for retweet in error, subsequently undone on learning it was unconnected".
Headed down to show our support, safer streets keep our team of riders safe when doing our jobs
Less vans, more cargo bikes help however better designed roads and #visionzero are key
— Pedal & Post Oxford (@PedalandPost) September 30, 2023
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.