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Debbie Dorling says Sunday night's "distressing" episode of BBC show “totally missed the point of cycle safety”...

Debbie Dorling, whose husband Brian was killed by a lorry at Bow Roundabout in London while riding his bike to work in October 2011, has challenged Jeremy Clarkson and James May to look her in the eye over their piece about cycle safety in Sunday evening’s edition of the BBC TV show, Top Gear.

Mrs Dorling told road.cc that the programme “totally missed the point of cycle safety”, and that she found one sequence particularly “distressing”, when vegetables were dropped from height onto a hard floor, with a bike following.

“What’s it meant to be?” asked May. “It’s a cyclist after an accident,” explained Clarkson.

The episode of the show, which is watched by millions of viewers in the UK and around the world, saw Clarkson and May present a series of cycle safety videos to a panel of experts including former world and Olympic champion Chris Boardman, now policy advisor at British Cycling.

It quickly became apparent that there was no intention of addressing the subject seriously, as the segment descended into a litany of well-worn stereotypes about cyclists being red light jumpers who can’t afford a car.

Serious issues were barely touched upon, and the danger posed by lorries — which make up 4 per cent of London's traffic, but are involved in more than half of cyclist fatalities — not mentioned at all.

In the comments to our article and on our Facebook page, many pointed out that as a light entertainment show, no-one should have expected anything different. People were told to lighten up and enjoy the jokes.

But others wondered how you might feel if someone who had lost a loved one while cycling were watching the programme, and saw the subject being treated with such triviality.

As it happened, Mrs Dorling was watching it with her daughter. She told us: “I have a sense of humour, so does my daughter. We were laughing then the laughing stopped because it went too far.”

Mrs Dorling, posting as Brians Wife, made a comment to our article on the programme, in which she said:

I sat and watched TG with my daughter as it is one of our favourite programmes. However after the initial laughter at the cycling piece we were both shocked and sickened by the content. Sorry guys, this was not good TV for a family whose cyclist husband and father was killed by a lorry. This missed so many opportunities and I am quite saddened by what went on air, had I realised I would not have watched.

Her husband Brian, an experienced cyclist who rode around 200 miles a week, was killed at Bow Roundabout in October 2011 on his way from his home in Hounslow to work as a surveyor at the Olympic Park.

Since then, the family has had to endure not only their grief at his loss, but also a criminal court case in which the driver of the lorry involved was sentenced to 24 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a year.

They also sat through an inquest in which the coroner was highly critical of the Cycle Superhighway Mr Dorling was riding on, which she said gave cyclists “a false sense of security”.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

65 comments

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Yennings [237 posts] 1 year ago
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Whilst I have every sympathy for the bereaved, and can totally see their point, for me it was actually a somewhat positive thing to see cycling feature prominently on such a popular TV show, even one as comical/irresponsible as Top Gear. All part of the normalisation of cycling which IMO is the true key to increasing awareness, safety and fair treatment of cyclists. They definitely could have handled parts of it more sensitively, though - the vegetables were pretty tasteless. And having commuted by bike in London for over a decade, I agree that dump trucks are way scarier than buses. Shame they didn't have any near misses with those.

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Simmo72 [584 posts] 1 year ago
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It has had its moments and I wasn't wound up as you had to expect nothing else, but I did think this would offen victims of bike accidents.

The producers know controversy creates conversation which in turn promotes Top Gear. The format is tired, the content very dull and repetitive, and the presenters utter c*c*s who's ego's are fed solely by an audience of tabloid reading idiots.

All you have to do is look at the audience on the show. They clearly place the 'attractive' girl at the front to dissuade the tv audience that it isn't full of a load of middle aged men wishing they were the stig who otherwise would be at home locked in their mums bathroom with the screwfix catalogue power tool section.

Next week - something about an expensive car and how great it is and yet at the end they will say its crap, joke about hammonds height/teeth/hair, joke about the floppy haired twat whose names eludes me, staged race/challenge, some bloke promoting a film comes on and drives a car, something about an indian car......and Clarkson looking more and more like a saggy leather cushion furnished in denim ....repeat for another 20 series.

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gazza_d [451 posts] 1 year ago
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I think we are all used to and expect Top Gear's blend of lazy oafish humour, but some of the imagery on Sunday evening crossed a line.

The images of crushed bikes alongside slogans suggesting that the rider would have been alive had they behaved differently (not being poor, or not being self righteous) were quite offensive and I can understand how Mrs Dorling feels.

It may have been received better if TG had countered the offensive stuff with some real positive messages to help cyclists, but they didn't bother.

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stumps [3185 posts] 1 year ago
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Slightly changing the subject here but i've just sat through prime ministers questions (sad i know) and it was brought up about the sentencing for death by dangerous / careless driving.

Cameron, as usual, spouted a complete load of rubbish and said the relevant minister would look at it - next question please.

What hope is there when they cant even be bothered to give at least a decent answer.

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redmeat [147 posts] 1 year ago
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People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

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stumps [3185 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

I honestly hope your comment was about the show in general and not about this ladies very sad loss.

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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Looking at the comments on the original piece, what strikes me is how ridiculous some of the comments on this site are becoming. In amongst the 122 others (and counting), Mrs Dorling posted what has to be the most significant comment of the lot, but it was hardly noticed amid a din of shouts and insults by people accusing each other of all sorts just because they don't agree.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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If you found it offensive tell the BBC.

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StoopidUserName [128 posts] 1 year ago
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/

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StoopidUserName [128 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

Seriously.

Try reading who has complained in the article above.

Seriously.

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joemmo [1146 posts] 1 year ago
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maybe clarkson could take a biscuit tin full of fruit and drop a microwave on it to hilariously illustrate what can happen to a car and its occupants if it is smashed to bits by an HGV.

I mean it would be their fault after all, not driving the biggest thing on the road wouldn't it?

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

Only 6 comments from this user, don't feed the troll guys.

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gb901 [149 posts] 1 year ago
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Simmo72 wrote:

It has had its moments and I wasn't wound up as you had to expect nothing else, but I did think this would offen victims of bike accidents.

The producers know controversy creates conversation which in turn promotes Top Gear. The format is tired, the content very dull and repetitive, and the presenters utter c*c*s who's ego's are fed solely by an audience of tabloid reading idiots.

All you have to do is look at the audience on the show. They clearly place the 'attractive' girl at the front to dissuade the tv audience that it isn't full of a load of middle aged men wishing they were the stig who otherwise would be at home locked in their mums bathroom with the screwfix catalogue power tool section.

Next week - something about an expensive car and how great it is and yet at the end they will say its crap, joke about hammonds height/teeth/hair, joke about the floppy haired twat whose names eludes me, staged race/challenge, some bloke promoting a film comes on and drives a car, something about an indian car......and Clarkson looking more and more like a saggy leather cushion furnished in denim ....repeat for another 20 series.

My sentiments entirely.

Sadly the unholy trinity of tg presenters are in the very privileged position of being paid a fortune to churn out this drivel!

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gb901 [149 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

I wonder how you would feel to have the demise of a close family member ridiculed by oafs?!

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Critchio [163 posts] 1 year ago
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Top Gear at one point was my fave show. That was when it was about cars, development, technology, consumer information about faults and road tests, etc. Occasional slapstick made it entertaining and the balance was right.

I dont watch the show at all now. Basically because the presenters have turned into a bunch of c**ts who need to retire. The show actually needs to die too, that would be a good thing.

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Mendip James [38 posts] 1 year ago
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Poor lady, the very fact she could see the funny side of any of their piece is pretty admirable in itself. I agree that no-one expected anything less than the usual from the TG team, but echo the sentiment that it was a completely missed opportunity to get a worthy message across. It's all very well carrying on with the piss taking, and most of us can take a joke, but you then have a responsibility to balance this when you are dealing with a matter which is as serious as it is. Can you imagine them running a similar piece joking about car crash victims or motorsport deaths? I just don't think they would.

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700c [819 posts] 1 year ago
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Completely understand the feelings of the bereaved in watching this. A missed opportunity, as I've already posted

However, as annoying and insensitive as Clarkson can be, he's just making entertainment programmes, and has no remit for education or to strive to improve safety. The government and justice system does, however. They are the one's failing the victims of accidents.

But if you think other road users are immune from insensitive generalisations by Clarkson, then think again; bus users, motorcyclists, lorry drivers, the Welsh.. ! All have been targeted, I really don't think it's anything sinister he just thrives on controversial comedy that's all.

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a.jumper [845 posts] 1 year ago
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workhard wrote:

If you found it offensive tell the BBC.

I have. I particularly enjoyed the "work harder ********" abuse from the passenger of a hot hatch that overtook me on my way home yesterday. That was a predictable result of this piece of BBC public disservice broadcasting.

I think the portrayal of injured cyclists as vegetables crossed the line, too.

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a.jumper [845 posts] 1 year ago
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700c wrote:

But if you think other road users are immune from insensitive generalisations by Clarkson, then think again; bus users, motorcyclists, lorry drivers, the Welsh.. ! All have been targeted, I really don't think it's anything sinister he just thrives on controversial comedy that's all.

Can Clarkson be prosecuted for incitement or conspiracy to road rage yet?

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redmeat [147 posts] 1 year ago
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gb901 wrote:
redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

I wonder how you would feel to have the demise of a close family member ridiculed by oafs?!

My father died of a heart attack. Am I offended every time Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle/whoever makes a comment about someone dying from a heart attack? No. Should I be? No.

Stop being so terminally offended.

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Bez [587 posts] 1 year ago
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700c wrote:

But if you think other road users are immune from insensitive generalisations by Clarkson, then think again; bus users, motorcyclists, lorry drivers, the Welsh.. !

Remind me which of those generalisations were made through the use of a realistic image intended to portray a fatality for humorous purposes?

I don't even recall any news articles about the deaths of 120-odd innocent Welsh people a year due to them simply being Welsh. Maybe I've not been paying attention.

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David Portland [83 posts] 1 year ago
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I can see a fairly clear difference between someone dying of a heart attack and someone being killed by someone else.

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Joselito [160 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:
gb901 wrote:
redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

I wonder how you would feel to have the demise of a close family member ridiculed by oafs?!

My father died of a heart attack. Am I offended every time Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle/whoever makes a comment about someone dying from a heart attack? No. Should I be? No.

Stop being so terminally offended.

Was your dad's heart attack caused by someone else's inattention?
Or, their rush to get from A to B despite whoever was in their way?
Perhaps, his heart attack was caused by someone texting and driving at the same time.

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Bez [587 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

My father died of a heart attack. Am I offended every time Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle/whoever makes a comment about someone dying from a heart attack? No. Should I be? No.

If your dad's heart attack had been directly and unnaturally caused by someone else's negligence - say, a drug incorrectly administered by an incompetent doctor working in an inadequately regulated hospital - and then you saw a prime-time TV programme promoting maverick medicine laughing and applauding at people who'd been killed in that way, would you not be bothered?

I mean, maybe you're fine with that, in which case fair play. But don't try to pretend that dying of a fundamentally non-eradicable illness is anything like being completely unnecessarily killed by a piece of machinery operated by another person.

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dughs [13 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:
gb901 wrote:
redmeat wrote:

People are far too easily offended these days. Ooh, my feelings were hurt. Please.

I wonder how you would feel to have the demise of a close family member ridiculed by oafs?!

My father died of a heart attack. Am I offended every time Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle/whoever makes a comment about someone dying from a heart attack? No. Should I be? No.

Stop being so terminally offended.

A Heart Attack is different - No secondary participant

A cycling accident like this could be and can be avoided if people were more self aware on the roads (Cars and Cyclists alike). The cause of this families loss could be prevented by better education. The mass market opportunity to do this was not taken and could potentially cause more accidents because of the triviality and the audience it touched.

I don't get offended by anything at all and I watch comedy that test the limits and the more offensive the better.

If I watch Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle I know what I am going to get, Top Gear is a publically funded BBC show that has responsibilities as well as being light hearted. To highlight injured cyclists as vegetables is not particularly intelligent on a show broadcasted at this time and to an influenced viewer.

Your comments are also not particularly intelligent on a forum like this.

Know your audience.

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Bez [587 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm relieved to hear that I didn't misjudge this piece, then.
https://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/lolz/

I thought much the same. It made me laugh. But then it crossed a line where I just wondered how anyone who'd actually been bereaved could look at that imagery, and see the crass handling of it, and still laugh.

I like Top Gear, I never expected it to handle the subject constructively and I see no problem with that, and I hate to find common ground with people who get offended by anything and everything, but it was pretty shameful for Clarkson to stand up and wave victoriously at a jeering audience for displaying an image of death as a joke.

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Bez [587 posts] 1 year ago
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Ah, so I see editing a reply sends it to the bottom of the thread and makes it look stupid and out of place. Arse  1

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mtm_01 [195 posts] 1 year ago
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redmeat wrote:

My father died of a heart attack. Am I offended every time Jimmy Carr/Frankie Boyle/whoever makes a comment about someone dying from a heart attack? No. Should I be? No.

Stop being so terminally offended.

Pretty much sums up my feelings. Yes comedy will offend people, but luckily those people aren't being held at gunpoint and can choose not to watch it.

Clarkson is still nowhere near a Frankie Boyle.

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mtm_01 [195 posts] 1 year ago
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a.jumper wrote:

I particularly enjoyed the "work harder ********" abuse from the passenger of a hot hatch that overtook me on my way home yesterday.

It was probably a comment at how slow you were going from another cyclist  3

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paulskinn1 [9 posts] 1 year ago
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I have much sympathy for the lady in the article, however......... I am sure there have been many motorists who have been killed while Top Gear is doing a piece where they laugh at a car. Wouldn't it be a very sad thing if TV was to become a laugh free zone, because nothing funny for the majority of people was made.

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