Next week, Channel 5 is screening a documentary called Cyclists: Scourge Of The Streets? and if the advance publicity is anything to go by, describing it as a look at a so-called “war of the wheels,” it’s unlikely to be sympathetic to people on bicycles as well as being far from the first programme to examine a perceived “us versus them” mentality between those using different forms of transport to get around.
The broadcaster has commissioned the documentary from Firecracker Films, whose past productions include Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Mums Make Porn and The Sex Clinic, according to C21media.net.
The website says: “With increasing numbers of people in the UK choosing to cycle rather than drive, tensions between cyclists and motorists are on the rise.
“The producers say the doc will ask whether all cyclists are rule-breakers and road-hoggers, not adhering to the same laws as everyone else, or if motorists have just as much to answer for.”
Realscreen.com provides a bit more detail, saying that the documentary “will provide an unfiltered look at the enduring war between cyclists and motorists in England.
“The film will meet a variety of characters, from the cabbies of London and the residents of Surrey who no longer feel safe driving on local roads, to the cyclists patrolling the UK’s highways and law enforcement officials attempting to make the roadways a safer place for everyone who uses them.”
Executive producer Elspeth O’Hare of Firecracker Scotland, quoted on Realscreen.com, said: “This documentary promises to be an eye-opener for drivers and cyclists across the country,” said Firecracker Scotland’s O’Hare in a statement.
Of course, it’s impossible to judge the programme until after it airs next Tuesday evening, and it could be that it will be a well-balanced piece of reporting that highlights the dangers cyclists face on a daily basis from other road users.
More likely, we fear, is that it will help reinforce misconceptions held by many motorists about cyclists and how the law applies to them, as well as continuing the tribal narrative seen in past programmes such as the 2012 BBC documentary, The War On Britain’s Roads.
In its listing for the programme, which will be broadcast at 9.15pm next Tuesday 9 July, Channel 5 says simply: “There is growing tension between two wheels and four.”
The documentary is already receiving criticism on Twitter due to its title, with this tweet attracting more than 100 retweets and 400 likes on the social network.
Dear Media - where do I even begin with this. having a show like this https://t.co/VQzuVfgQke is not helpful to moms like me (or any other human)- who CYCLE. We are human beings. Parents, families. friends. colleagues. HUMANS. @Chris_Boardman @ShanazeReade
— CycleCharterCoord (@CyclingCharCoor) July 3, 2019
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.