Cycle safety front page news in wake of Wiggins and Sutton incidents

Dave Brailsford calls for safer roads for riders to be Britain's Olympic legacy

by Simon_MacMichael   November 9, 2012  

Newspapers react to Wiggins and Sutton incidents

Cycle safety shot up the media agenda yesterday in the wake of incidents in which Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton were both injured while out riding their bikes, with Dave Brailsford said that a fitting Olympic legacy would be to make the country’s roads safer for cyclists.

Brailsford, performance director at British Cycling and Team Sky principal, made the appeal following the incidents on Wednesday and Thursday that left Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton in hospital. The events of the past two days have resulted in a huge amount of media coverage that has quickly developed into a debate on cycle safety.

The Sun, Times, Guardian, Mail and Telegraph all covered the incidents in depth as did the BBC and other broadcast media - today the front page of the Metro calls for the government to put cyclists first.

Speaking about the incidents 15 hours apart that left both his star rider and right-hand man injured, Brailsford told the BBC: “It’s very rare that we have too many accidents... on a day to day basis, but we’ve got to put safety first and I think we would encourage our riders to ride as safely as possible.

“Maybe a legacy of the Games could be a greater awareness and understanding of cycle safety and just how vulnerable they can be on the roads?”

Wiggins was released from hospital yesterday after being hit by a van near his Lancashire home where he is now recovering, while Sutton, who suffered bleeding on his brain after being struck by a car in Manchester, remains in hospital.

Yesterday, the incident Wiggins was the main story on the front page of The Sun, and today the newspaper leads with an interview with the driver, under the front-page headline ‘OMG! I’ve knocked down Wiggo.’ The wider debate makes the cover of today’s Metro, with the headline ‘Put cyclists first.’

Unsurprisingly in a week in which it launched the second phase of its Cities fit for Cycling campaign, The Times is giving the issue prominent coverage, including a lead article in which it says:

“Some may ask when and how Wiggins and Sutton were cycling, and what they could have done to keep themselves safe. But these are the wrong questions. Cyclists are not uniquely responsible for their own safety. Our roads should not be battlegrounds of injury and blame.

“As you will know, The Times is campaigning for cities fit for cycling, and inherent in this is the idea that this country’s roads should suit the needs of those who travel on them.

“Thousands in Britain ride their bikes for fun and for exercise and thousand more will have been inspired to do so thanks to the efforts of Wiggins and Sutton. The fact that even they find themselves at risk only serves to highlight both the scale and the essential nature of the task at hand. We wish them both a suitably speedy recovery, which in their case should be very speedy indeed.”

Both the Sun and the Daily Mail accused Cycling Weekly as having made a ‘joke’ tweet about the incident by its use of the word ‘SMIDSY,’ short for ‘sorry mate I didn’t see you’ – although they seem to have entirely missed the point that the acronym is a serious one, used by CTC in its Stop SMISDSY campaign.

Shortly after news broke about the Wiggins incident, the cycling magazine tweeted: “No official announcement yet, but Cath Wiggins had tweeted that the crash had all the hallmarks of SMIDSY.”

Mrs Wiggins later replied saying, ‘I have not tweeted any such thing please remove that and apologise.”

Like The Times, coverage in the Guardian as you would expect displayed a stronger grasp of the essential issues.

Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz and the man behind the I Pay Road Tax website, penned a piece for the Guardian in which he looked at some of the reaction on social media to news of Wiggins’ crash, including from motorists who clearly believe bikes have no place on the road.

Reid’s article mentioned a Twitter feed, @cyclehatred, that has been set up by “a cyclist re-tweeting the constant stream of Twitter comments that illustrate peoples messed up, ill informed, and frankly terrifying, view of cyclists.”

The retweets by @cyclehatred shows there are a lot of angry people out there who don’t like cyclists, and they don’t mind people knowing about it.

In his article, which unlike the Sun and the Mail gives a clear and concise explanation of the seriousness of the term SMIDSY, Reid says: “No doubt the vulnerability of our champion cyclists will be mentioned at the inquiry and perhaps action will be taken to make Britain safer for all cyclists. In the meantime, the online hate attacks against cyclists won't abate just because one of the injury statistics now involves an Olympic champion.

“If anything, the hate attacks will increase because they can be seen as a desperate kickback against the growing visibility of cyclists. Motorists had better get used to seeing more cyclists out on the roads and, if they feel it's unfair that cyclists overtake them while they're sat on their arses in traffic jams, don't knock 'em, join 'em!”

The injuries to Wiggins and Sutton mean that the issue of cycle safety is now also being discussed in TV and radio as well as in the newspapers, with the BBC among others giving it prominent coverage across both types of media.

It’s unfortunate of course that it should take two incidents involving high-profile figures for the issue of cycle safety to receive such widespread prominence, and many cyclists have rightly pointed out that others go unreported.

Following a year however in which the issue of cycle safety has been steadily rising up the political agenda, first in London last autumn following a series of fatalities then from February this year with the launch of the Cities fit for Cycling campaign by The Times, the coverage of the past 24 hours does underline that it is becoming mainstream. It also comes in a week in which a cross-party parliamentary enquiry has been launched into the subject.

When Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the RideLondon event which will debut next August and which he says will be London’s Olympic legacy to its cyclists, it was pointed out by many that a lasting and more worthwhile legacy would be safer roads year-round.

With that sentiment now being echoed by Brailsford, the man who engineered Great Britain’s Olympic success and Wiggins’ Tour de France victory, it is to be hoped that the parliamentary inquiry does result in lasting change. At least now, the press is watching.

26 user comments

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The Gruaniad article is a good one. Carlton Reid puts his point well.

Had a look at those tweets - some of those haters probably have personality disorders.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2130 posts]
9th November 2012 - 13:02

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OldRidgeback wrote:
The Gruaniad article is a good one. Carlton Reid puts his point well.

Had a look at those tweets - some of those haters probably have personality disorders.

Mad as hatters; brainless idiots, slowly tunning themselves in-to self-centred bigot's
>
"some of those haters probably have personality disorders."

posted by Mostyn [400 posts]
9th November 2012 - 14:21

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The comments pages on the online newspapers and some of the stuff posted on Twitter is just unbelievable. I didn't think it was possible for people to be that stupid but apparently, not only is it possible, they're keen to tell everyone their blinkered, ill-informed views.

Apparently, if Wiggins paid road tax, we'd all have a big force field round us where it would be impossible for cars to hit us because we'd have paid our way. Also, he shouldn't have been out after dark anyway. And he'd probably jumped a red light or three cos according to these enlightened commentators, we all do that all the time.

Sad

posted by crazy-legs [485 posts]
9th November 2012 - 14:26

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I'm not on Twitter. When I hear that there's so much anti-cyclist attitude out there that somebody finds it necessary to re-tweet the comments I start to get nervous. I commute on remote country roads; how long will it be before this increased publicity results in some anti-cycling idiots deciding it's war out there and vent their issues on loan individuals like myself.

Maybe the best thing to do is stop reading these cycle forums and live in denial.

posted by AWP [68 posts]
9th November 2012 - 15:18

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Well surly if the statements are offensive or that they want to do something to someone then maybe the police might like to look into it or is that just against footballers or other pseudo famous people? Apart from that the money she has made for her interview should pay for the new wing mirror, new car or better still some f#*king glasses.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [456 posts]
9th November 2012 - 15:28

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I haven't read the Twitter comments but think that most people who have the time to write this kind of thing are perhaps the least likely to actually do anything about it. Repeating these sort of comments does however seem to somehow make more acceptable (to some) the irrational hatred of people just because of their mode of transport. This may not manifest itself in actual attacks on riders but perhaps they may overtake a little closer to 'show the feckers!'

Also, the headline ‘OMG! I’ve knocked down Wiggo’ would appear to make light of the situation and imply it is not too serious a thing to knock someone off their bike making it seem like a bit of a lark. Someone should tell them we don't have airbags on bikes.

posted by Ants [7 posts]
9th November 2012 - 15:51

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AWP wrote:
I'm not on Twitter. When I hear that there's so much anti-cyclist attitude out there that somebody finds it necessary to re-tweet the comments I start to get nervous. I commute on remote country roads; how long will it be before this increased publicity results in some anti-cycling idiots deciding it's war out there and vent their issues on loan individuals like myself.

Maybe the best thing to do is stop reading these cycle forums and live in denial.

Sadly there are prejudiced, hateful people everywhere, Twitter just gives them a public space in which to parade their ignorance. Thankfully they are easy to ignore if you wish. A few rants by some muppets on Twitter shouldn't really affect your life.

I have pondered whether I may be developing a skewed view of how safe cycling is from reading website articles about bad/aggressive/dangerous driving; it can cause an individual to feel vulnerable and helpless regardless of the facts (it's a human thing, emotion wins over rational argument every time). But cycling really is a very safe activity.

I think the net result of all this discussion will be that more people will realise it's not acceptable to be so selfish and regard other' lives in such low regard, whether deliberately or not. Although there will still be arseholes out there, most drivers are fine and, if anything, I think my experiences while cycling have improved in recent months.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1906 posts]
9th November 2012 - 16:19

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With twitter Am never too sure where the dividing line is between exposing a monster and feeding a monster. It is a a double edged sword.

However, this is the problem with all social media it will highlight the breadth of views out there and encourage us to consider perspectives and situation we may have never come across otherwise. But social media can also can create a sense of community for some very unpleasant attitudes and therefor reinforce those attitudes. It can also cause reaction without consideration, which can result in some unpleasant outcomes.

What we should never accept is that something said in the digital arena is any more or less acceptable or unpleasant than if said down the pub. The location and size of the potential audience should not be considered an a factor when judging the truth right or wrong of something.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
9th November 2012 - 16:28

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Cyclist bashing is akin to a hate crime IMO.
On the roads we are a minority and as such should be protected in law.
Replace the word cyclist with something like Jew/Muslim/Gay and see how it reads.
boils my pish I tells ya

posted by mrchrispy [281 posts]
9th November 2012 - 16:43

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mrchrispy wrote:
Cyclist bashing is akin to a hate crime IMO.
On the roads we are a minority and as such should be protected in law.
Replace the word cyclist with something like Jew/Muslim/Gay and see how it reads.
boils my pish I tells ya

In a roundabout convoluted way my sentiments exactly but they won’t get charged as they are only directing their anger at cyclists and we are lower down the food chain than a furry little animal.

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posted by cidermart [456 posts]
9th November 2012 - 17:18

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just checked the @cyclehatred twitter account and there are some real buffoons making comments on there.

Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

A positive answer will get them a bollocking and a negative answer will get them a trip to court.

At times i love my job Devil

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2664 posts]
9th November 2012 - 17:25

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stump sir...to you I say 'hat'

posted by mrchrispy [281 posts]
9th November 2012 - 17:39

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stumps wrote:
just checked the @cyclehatred twitter account and there are some real buffoons making comments on there.

Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

A positive answer will get them a bollocking and a negative answer will get them a trip to court.

At times i love my job Devil

Good lad Big Grin

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [456 posts]
9th November 2012 - 17:40

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Statistically, pedestrians are 4 times more at risk of death than cyclists, and motorists 8 times more at risk. Just google accident/mortality statistics. Isolated incidents unfortunate as they are, create hype, especially with a high profile public figure. Facts are, cycling is a safe mode of transport. Those spouting off on Twitter have an issue because they don't have the balls to cycle on the roads, so have a complex. They should grow a pair and give it a try

posted by Andyd64 [13 posts]
9th November 2012 - 18:26

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stumps wrote:
Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

Why can't there be more like you!

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
9th November 2012 - 20:13

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stumps wrote:
just checked the @cyclehatred twitter account and there are some real buffoons making comments on there.

Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

A positive answer will get them a bollocking and a negative answer will get them a trip to court.

At times i love my job Devil

You Sir are a treasure and a legend. Carry on!

posted by gazza_d [182 posts]
9th November 2012 - 20:55

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Thank you for the praise ! For my next trick i think i will run for UCI president Smug

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2664 posts]
9th November 2012 - 21:34

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stumps wrote:
just checked the @cyclehatred twitter account and there are some real buffoons making comments on there.

Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

A positive answer will get them a bollocking and a negative answer will get them a trip to court.

At times i love my job Devil

Are you really a copper? I was want to contact us to see what your CC thinks of those remarks?

www.youdrive.co

Road safety 'experts' are often folk who's CV doesn't cut the mustard.

posted by Sedgepeat [61 posts]
9th November 2012 - 22:59

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Sedgepeat wrote:
stumps wrote:
just checked the @cyclehatred twitter account and there are some real buffoons making comments on there.

Cant wait to get back to work to persecute some innocent motorists hahahaha. When they get stopped i think a few questions about what they think of cyclists on the roads.

A positive answer will get them a bollocking and a negative answer will get them a trip to court.

At times i love my job Devil

Are you really a copper? I was want to contact us to see what your CC thinks of those remarks?

Sedgepeat - grow up man, its all a bit of fun. Do you honestly believe i would risk my pension, house and kids future just to have a pop at a few dopey motorists.

Turn your ire towards the motoring numpties who tweeted on the site, they were absolutely disgusting.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2664 posts]
9th November 2012 - 23:04

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Perhaps cyclists should read this: http://bit.ly/VNby9D and from my experience on twitter, a lot cyclists tweeters see any kind of defence of drivers, facts and shear common sense as abuse, bigotted,bunkerism and rather than address the point turn to bile and venom. It isn't the best advert for cyclists. Mr Pooter actually made a very good point. The harder you cycle, the more likelyhood of having a bad accident and injuries consistent with the speed. Speed is no respector of cyclists as anyone else. Hitting the side of a stationary car at 30 MPH is going to be bad. The above link proves all that.

Road safety 'experts' are often folk who's CV doesn't cut the mustard.

posted by Sedgepeat [61 posts]
9th November 2012 - 23:08

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cidermart wrote:
mrchrispy wrote:
Cyclist bashing is akin to a hate crime IMO.
On the roads we are a minority and as such should be protected in law.
Replace the word cyclist with something like Jew/Muslim/Gay and see how it reads.
boils my pish I tells ya

In a roundabout convoluted way my sentiments exactly but they won’t get charged as they are only directing their anger at cyclists and we are lower down the food chain than a furry little animal.

Totally agree. I cycle across a common with horses/sheep/cows wandering around and motorists will slow down and give them much more space than a cyclist.

posted by Pitchpole [2 posts]
9th November 2012 - 23:58

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Sedgepeat wrote:
Perhaps cyclists should read this: http://bit.ly/VNby9D and from my experience on twitter, a lot cyclists tweeters see any kind of defence of drivers, facts and shear common sense as abuse, bigotted,bunkerism and rather than address the point turn to bile and venom. It isn't the best advert for cyclists. Mr Pooter actually made a very good point. The harder you cycle, the more likelyhood of having a bad accident and injuries consistent with the speed. Speed is no respector of cyclists as anyone else. Hitting the side of a stationary car at 30 MPH is going to be bad. The above link proves all that.

what, the driver protest union, who claim that '20mph limits in our expert opinion will increase casualties' despite there being no evidence for that, at all, anywhere, and reams suggesting the opposite? i think i know which side their bread is buttered.

plus, a 'union' has to be more than one person Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
10th November 2012 - 0:08

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
Sedgepeat wrote:
Perhaps cyclists should read this: http://bit.ly/VNby9D and from my experience on twitter, a lot cyclists tweeters see any kind of defence of drivers, facts and shear common sense as abuse, bigotted,bunkerism and rather than address the point turn to bile and venom. It isn't the best advert for cyclists. Mr Pooter actually made a very good point. The harder you cycle, the more likelyhood of having a bad accident and injuries consistent with the speed. Speed is no respector of cyclists as anyone else. Hitting the side of a stationary car at 30 MPH is going to be bad. The above link proves all that.

what, the driver protest union, who claim that '20mph limits in our expert opinion will increase casualties' despite there being no evidence for that, at all, anywhere, and reams suggesting the opposite? i think i know which side their bread is buttered.

plus, a 'union' has to be more than one person Thinking

Well said that man Applause

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2664 posts]
11th November 2012 - 21:20

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To support the point that the road is there to be used for everyone, regardless of their means of transport, the modern bicycle was invented in 1885 (earlier versions existed) and the modern car also in 1885 (again earlier versions existed but in this year it was run with gasoline), therefore, not a case of 'we were here first', which seems to be the mentality. I drive and I also cycle, we should all be courteous and drive and cycle as such. However this is a modern day society issue, where politeness and regard for others is rare, and selfishness and ignorance are the norm. That said, Dickens wrote in a Christmas Carol, 'beware want and ignorance for they are the enemy of man' - it still holds true today

posted by Andyd64 [13 posts]
12th November 2012 - 12:51

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DPU - what a bunch of [insert preferred expletive]s. Their/his comments on Simon Richardson recent injuries inflicted by a near legally blind, drunk pensioner in a Transit defy belief "Didn't he learn anything?".

I should never follow links like this on road.cc, always makes me despair at soem of the idiots out there. As many have already said though, cycling is comparatively safe. Maybe I should turn off the pc and just get out on the bike!

posted by DonnyCampo [55 posts]
14th November 2012 - 12:48

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Sedgepeat wrote:
Perhaps cyclists should read this: http://bit.ly/VNby9D...

Can't believe I'm going to take the bait on this one - my cat understands logic better than the drivel on there.

Thirty million drivers keep us alive? What planet are you on? If it wasn't cars that were being used to reap billions in tax revenue, it would simply be something else. I pay plenty - my wife and I both have (and enjoy using) nice cars.

The idea that Simon Richardson 'didn't learn anything' from the last time he was run over is sickening. Do you also think that anyone who has been mugged should learn not to carry money? How about rape victims - should they learn to wear a burka perhaps?

Did it ever occur to you that the "narrow wheels, spandex and lycra-clad variety" of cyclist might have learnt to handle a bike better than the average "sedate, upright rider"? 25mph on a bike might look fast to you. I'm not defending poor cycling; it exists just as poor driving does, but you/DPU just seem to hate us full stop.

Two other observations:
1. The fact that you apparently come here just to have a go at cyclists. Is your life that sh*t, and your hatred of other road users that great?
2. The DPU site is all Flash, despite the fact that there is no real need for it with predominantly text-based content - it does, however, offer the convenient advantage that the text cannot be copy/pasted. This limits the potential for this ill-considered bile to be spread across the web and the subsequent mass ridicule of such BS. (Are you in fact responsible for the DPU website? It wouldn't surprise me to find out that both the site and your comments are derived from the same cretin, masquerading as a 'union' of like minds)

You can spout your rubbish as much as you like, but I'd like to see you do it in person. Anyone can be brave behind a keyboard.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2938 posts]
14th November 2012 - 14:39

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