BBC Sussex planning feature on cyclists' rights after social media backlash over "ill-judged" tweet

Broadcaster received complaints after asking "Who's to blame?" in video showing van driver forcing cyclist off the road...

BBC Sussex says it may run a feature on the rights of cyclists after it was strongly criticised on social media this week for attempting to start a debate about who was in the wrong in relation to a video that showed a van driver forcing a rider off the road.

> Van driver filmed forcing cyclist off road; BBC Sussex asks "Who's to blame?"

The driver involved was sacked immediately when the incident, which happened last weekend, was brought to the attention of the managing director of the company he worked for, Vidette UK Ltd.

But in a post to Twitter on Tuesday, BBC Sussex sought to start a debate over the incident. The post was later deleted, but not before it received widespread criticism.

A number of people complained directly to the broadcaster, with one road.cc reader receiving the following reply from the BBC Complaints Team.

After that tweet had been deleted, BBC Sussex said it had been trying "to stimulate debate," ut acknowledged that "the wording was ill judged."

As well as the criticism that BBC Sussex attracted on Twitter, a number of people complained directly to the broadcaster, with one road.cc reader receiving the following reply from the BBC Complaints Team.

Many thanks for getting in touch about a recent Tweet from BBC Sussex. 

We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness about the Tweet, so we've discussed your feedback personally with the radio station's Editor and other senior editorial personnel across the BBC.

As a local radio station, BBC Sussex is very interested in cycling safety as it is a topic that comes up regularly, so the Breakfast show team posted the Tweet in question in a bid to stimulate debate amongst our audience.

However, having subsequently reviewed the Tweet, the Editor of the radio station felt that the wording was perhaps ill-judged and so deleted the Tweet. At the same, the Editor added a comment to explain to readers why she was doing so, which you may have already seen. 

A number of people contacted BBC Sussex directly (both cyclists and drivers) to criticise the van driver, but it was also clear from a number of calls, emails and social media comments that there is still a great deal of confusion surrounding this issue and the legal rights of cyclists.

As a result, the Editor is now looking into the possibility of a feature on the radio station looking at all of this in more detail, so please be assured that your points along with the views of other listeners will be borne in mind.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify matters and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

The video below shows the incident that led the local radio station to ask who was “to blame” – a question to which the answer is pretty clear.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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