Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Ned Boulting: media coverage of red-light jumping Lycra wearers is 'dull'

ITV presenter says we need to move on from stereotypes and embrace cycling's potential to improve our cities...

Ned Boulting has called the media's repeated branding of cyclists in Lycra as red lighting maniacs as "dull", and says the conversation needs to move beyond lazy stereotypes.

ITV Tour de France host, Boulting, responded to comments made on Broadcasting House, the BBC's Radio 4 Sunday morning programme, by Telegraph columnist, Angela Epstein, who says cyclists are unaccountable in law and shouldn't ride on the roads because one red light jumper could have "catastrophic" consequences.

The piece started with the challenges posed by a growing numbers of cyclists in and around Box Hill on Sundays, with cyclist and resident interviews, before bringing in Epstein and Boulting for comment.

Epstein said in the interview: "A lot of cyclists use the roads with some sense of entitlement now, they feel like there's some kind of David and Goliath battle between the car and the bike.

"But because they don't have legal accountability, they don't have to pass a proficiency test, they don't have to have an MOT test for their bikes, they don't have to have license plates so if they jump a red light it's not easy to catch them...they weave and duck in front of traffic. There's no recourse to law for cyclists."

Epstein said she feels cyclists occupy the moral high ground, as they don't generate noise or air pollution, which she feels has led to a militant culture. However, when quizzed about whether her husband, who owns five bikes, is militant, she replied the moniker only applies to those who cycle on the roads.

"You may say there are only a few that flout the rules that jump red lights but it only takes one cyclist who jumps a red light and I see them every day of the week, to have a catastrophic consequence of their actions, and it will always be the motorist that will be clobbered for this," she said.

Boulting told Epstein she was "maligning a large group of people on the basis of a very, very small sample group" exhibiting what she saw as bad behaviour.

He said: "I think it's a little dull. Can't we just move beyond that because every time cycling makes the headlines it's because of the perception we're all red light jumping maniacs, which people ride bikes in all sorts of different ways; most of it doesn't involve Lycra, it's simply utilitarian, it's getting from A to B."

The Tour de France presenter also took issue with Epstein's claim cyclists have a sense of entitlement.

He said: "Of course they are, because they're entitled to use the roads.

"I think a lot of cyclists who think about this deeply and care greatly are trying to edge our cities towards a position where we have a big important sea change in the way our built environment operates, as the more thoughtful cyclist and the more thoughtful motorist, and let's not forget the two are often the same, would consider that to be a good thing."

"You can have good columnists and bad columnists, you can have columns with little research and offer unhelpful opinions. That doesn't mean that all columnists are bad and should be drummed out of existence and put in their place."

One Surrey resident referred to a rapid growth in cycling "overtaking" the roads on Sundays, with driving very difficult. He said some residents are too scared to drive on Sundays because the roads are so packed with people on bikes.

Resident Martin Williams told the programme only a few cyclists were causing problems, such as littering, using hedges as toilets, using bright lights and acting aggressively, but most were well-behaved.

The Guardian's Peter Walker wrote in a blog earlier this year ( about a number of BBC programmes where banning bikes was mooted, calling some recent examples "ill-judged, silly, unbalanced and, in some cases, downright odd".

You can listen to the 15 minute piece here, from around 17.20 minutes in:

Latest Comments