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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.

19 comments

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

The BBC is organisationally biased against cycling, with negative stories outweighing positive ones probably 50:1.

It isn't as if there aren't any positive stories, with the recent NICE report, and many dozens of others over the years, all extolling the virtues of cycling and how it is the answer to modern diseases, pollution and congestion.  Mentions on the BBC? 0.  If this had been walking or some unproven medical procedure, they are all over it.

I mostly listen to R4 and cycling is only mentioned to criticise it, tell us how dangerous it is, and how lawless cyclists are.  There is no programme about cycling, but walking seems to feature every day.

Then there's helmets.  The BBC has been unashamedly running a propaganda campaign for the past thirty years promoting them, in the process breaking every rule in their own Editorial Guidelines, but despite overwhelming evidence, complaints are dismissed with a condescending wave of the hand.

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kevvjj [329 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

There is no programme about cycling, but walking seems to feature every day.

Actually there is...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pcb42/episodes/downloads

 

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HarrogateSpa [514 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

BeSpoke is a Radio 5 podcast. It's great, but it's not on Radio 4, and it's about racing not everyday cycling.

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KendalRed [137 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

I'm not usually into 'Beeb bashing', but it seems to be the case that if they have the rights to show something, it's the best thing going, if they don't then it hardly gets a mention. Unless of course it's a doping/abuse story then Dan Roan is all over it.

Recent example of this - NFL. Endless tweets and space on the BBC Sport website for Superbowl. I was glad when it was over, so we could go back to not giving a flying shite about it.

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No Sweat [29 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:

 

Then there's helmets.  The BBC has been unashamedly running a propaganda campaign for the past thirty years promoting them, in the process breaking every rule in their own Editorial Guidelines, but despite overwhelming evidence, complaints are dismissed with a condescending wave of the hand.

I recently complained about a 'cycle helmet saved my life' video report on the BBC and (eventually after 3 week delays) received just such condescending dismissals from management. I am afraid I gave up in the face of stonewalling, and their unwillingness to engage in a rational discussion.

This is it - I can understand the sentiment from the close family, but the lack of research of such an implausible claim by the so-called 'journalist', and the complete lack of balance appalled me.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/42345928/girl-says-cycle-he...

 

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fukawitribe [2136 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:

The BBC is organisationally biased against cycling, with negative stories outweighing positive ones probably 50:1.

..probably not.

burtthebike wrote:

It isn't as if there aren't any positive stories, with the recent NICE report, and many dozens of others over the years, all extolling the virtues of cycling and how it is the answer to modern diseases, pollution and congestion.  Mentions on the BBC? 0. 

Quite a few - go have a search on their site, it's quite easy to do.

burtthebike wrote:

If this had been walking or some unproven medical procedure, they are all over it.

I mostly listen to R4 and cycling is only mentioned to criticise it, tell us how dangerous it is, and how lawless cyclists are.  There is no programme about cycling, but walking seems to feature every day.

Program dealt with further up, there's also a dedicated cycling section - which is primarily sporting to be fair, but is prominant and active. Stories of walking and health every day ? No, not really - again, seem a few on the health benefits of walking, cycling and exercise in general  but really can't see some massive discrepency. Also think about the amount of people who walk and the amount that cycle as well, even in the heydays of cycling as transport.

burtthebike wrote:

Then there's helmets.  The BBC has been unashamedly running a propaganda campaign for the past thirty years promoting them, in the process breaking every rule in their own Editorial Guidelines, but despite overwhelming evidence, complaints are dismissed with a condescending wave of the hand.

For me, must be a fairly shite "propoganda campaign" if i've not noticed it - the occassional usual rubbish remark  about helmets and general cycling safety, but hardly pushing it let alone a campaign...  You having a bad Monday by any chance ?

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
kevvjj wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

There is no programme about cycling, but walking seems to feature every day.

Actually there is...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pcb42/episodes/downloads

That's R5, not R4.

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
No Sweat wrote:

I recently complained about a 'cycle helmet saved my life' video report on the BBC and (eventually after 3 week delays) received just such condescending dismissals from management. I am afraid I gave up in the face of stonewalling, and their unwillingness to engage in a rational discussion.

This is it - I can understand the sentiment from the close family, but the lack of research of such an implausible claim by the so-called 'journalist', and the complete lack of balance appalled me.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/42345928/girl-says-cycle-he...

Don't give up!  I and others complained about this very story and are taking it further.  It doesn't take much, just drop an email to ecu [at] bbc.co.uk, the editorial complaints unit, explaining that they have yet again broken every rule in their own Editorial Guidelines.  When enough people complain, they might just change; they won't if we don't.

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DrJDog [441 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

Rubbish, the Beeb has had some great coverage of events I'd have never got to watch otherwise.

Also - Jeremy Vine.

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:

For me, must be a fairly shite "propoganda campaign" if i've not noticed it - the occassional usual rubbish remark  about helmets and general cycling safety, but hardly pushing it let alone a campaign...  You having a bad Monday by any chance ?

Not my fault if you aren't very observant. 

When I complained about the institutional bias in the BBC, I provided a list of over 40 programmes and articles which a brief search found, only one of which was even vaguely balanced, all the rest overtly promoted helmets.

This complaint was, of course, dismissed, with the observation that I hadn't provided enough evidence.  So I did a slightly deeper search and found over 80 articles, and again, I could only find a single one which was balanced.  This complaint was dismissed on the grounds that they had dismissed my previous complaint.

Biased?  Not much.

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
DrJDog wrote:

Rubbish, the Beeb has had some great coverage of events I'd have never got to watch otherwise.

Also - Jeremy Vine.

The BBC may well cover individual events, but everyday cycling is ignored, despite the overwhelming evidence of its incredible benefits for society in health, congestion, pollution and sustainability terms.  As I've previously said, R4 seems to have a prog about walking every day, but never mentions cycling except to criticise it.

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Deeferdonk [131 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:
DrJDog wrote:

Rubbish, the Beeb has had some great coverage of events I'd have never got to watch otherwise.

Also - Jeremy Vine.

The BBC may well cover individual events, but everyday cycling is ignored, despite the overwhelming evidence of its incredible benefits for society in health, congestion, pollution and sustainability terms.  As I've previously said, R4 seems to have a prog about walking every day, but never mentions cycling except to criticise it.

I've listened to "Ramblings with Claire Balding". What other programmes are there about walking on R4? not trying to be awkward - i'm genuinely interested!

 

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Deeferdonk wrote:

The BBC may well cover individual events, but everyday cycling is ignored, despite the overwhelming evidence of its incredible benefits for society in health, congestion, pollution and sustainability terms.  As I've previously said, R4 seems to have a prog about walking every day, but never mentions cycling except to criticise it.

I've listened to "Ramblings with Claire Balding". What other programmes are there about walking on R4? not trying to be awkward - i'm genuinely interested!

[/quote]

To be honest, I can't remember, I just register that they are talking about walking again, contrasted with the fact that they never mention cycling.

Gardening is apparently worth £5bn to the economy, while cycling was worth £2.9bn in 2010, but gardening gets its own much repeated R4 prog, while cycling gets nothing except criticism.  Cycling is increasingly popular, but the BBC just ignores it at best, and at worst, seems to want to destroy it.

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brooksby [2919 posts] 1 week ago
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On that Australian article, presumably that's why there were signs on every bike stand within a couple of hundred metres of Bristol's main war memorial on the Centre a day each side of last year's Remembrance ceremony thing, saying you couldn't park here?

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kevvjj [329 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:
kevvjj wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

There is no programme about cycling, but walking seems to feature every day.

Actually there is...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pcb42/episodes/downloads

That's R5, not R4.

 

Surely we are not judging the BBC on radio 4 alone? If we are accusing them of institutional bias then surely we need to look at the 'institution'. 

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fukawitribe [2136 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
burtthebike wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

For me, must be a fairly shite "propoganda campaign" if i've not noticed it - the occassional usual rubbish remark  about helmets and general cycling safety, but hardly pushing it let alone a campaign...  You having a bad Monday by any chance ?

Not my fault if you aren't very observant. 

When I complained about the institutional bias in the BBC, I provided a list of over 40 programmes and articles which a brief search found, only one of which was even vaguely balanced, all the rest overtly promoted helmets.

Maybe I don't watch much television or spend that much time on their website digging through articles - I did, however, have a quick search before I posted and of the 20-30 articles I scanned I didn't see the 'institutional bias' you claimed, or any really apart the odd 'helmet saved my life' click-bait. No systemic promotion of helmets, or guideline breaking propoganda; perhaps you could send me a copy (or post here) of the list of articles you sent - that might be useful. Also, perhaps you could reply to the point about there being zero mentions that link cycling to health on the BBC. Cheers

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
kevvjj wrote:

Surely we are not judging the BBC on radio 4 alone? If we are accusing them of institutional bias then surely we need to look at the 'institution'. 

I can only judge them on what I see and hear, nobody could watch and listen to their entire output, and my experience is that there is incredible bias.

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kevvjj [329 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:
kevvjj wrote:

Surely we are not judging the BBC on radio 4 alone? If we are accusing them of institutional bias then surely we need to look at the 'institution'. 

I can only judge them on what I see and hear, nobody could watch and listen to their entire output, and my experience is that there is incredible bias.

I think it's pretty clear where the bias lies.

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burtthebike [1382 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
fukawitribe wrote:
burtthebike wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

For me, must be a fairly shite "propoganda campaign" if i've not noticed it - the occassional usual rubbish remark  about helmets and general cycling safety, but hardly pushing it let alone a campaign...  You having a bad Monday by any chance ?

Not my fault if you aren't very observant. 

When I complained about the institutional bias in the BBC, I provided a list of over 40 programmes and articles which a brief search found, only one of which was even vaguely balanced, all the rest overtly promoted helmets.

Maybe I don't watch much television or spend that much time on their website digging through articles - I did, however, have a quick search before I posted and of the 20-30 articles I scanned I didn't see the 'institutional bias' you claimed, or any really apart the odd 'helmet saved my life' click-bait. No systemic promotion of helmets, or guideline breaking propoganda; perhaps you could send me a copy (or post here) of the list of articles you sent - that might be useful. Also, perhaps you could reply to the point about there being zero mentions that link cycling to health on the BBC. Cheers

I'll just give you a couple of examples.

R4 has a programme "More or Less" which claims to debunk the modern myths by using actual data, and to be fair, they usually do.  After I suggested that they look at cycle helmets, they did an article on them, and for the first and only time in the prog's history, they didn't look at any data, they just presented opinions.  They did interview three people, two were helmet zealots and one was neutral, no opposing opinion.  The programme's presenter made his views absolutely clear, something prohibited by their Editorial Guidelines.  Complaints of bias dismissed.

Then there was the coverage of the James Cracknell affair.  The BBC's Editorial Guidelines have strict rules about featuring someone who is being sponsored by a manufacturer.  Cracknell was sponsored by the helmet manufacturer, but this was never mentioned in any interview that I saw.  Complaints dismissed.

Just google for "BBC cycle helmet" and you'll find dozens of helmet saved my life stories, none of which point out that it is all assumption and has no basis in fact, and with no contrary opinions.  The Editorial Guidelines specify that there must be balance, contrary opinions and facts.

There are constant calls for helmet laws, and in such cases of proposed legislation, the Editorial Guidelines become even stricter, except not in the case of cycle helmets, and they just keep refusing to feature data or contrary opinions.

It's been going on for thirty years, with the R4 prog You and Yours featuring BHIT, with no contrary opinions or facts, that long ago.

As I've explained, I can't watch/listen to all BBC output, but what I do see/hear doesn't feature the overwhelming benefits of cycling to the individual and society or the facts about helmets.