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BBC Panorama – Road Rage: Cars v Bikes – the Podcast debrief

We discuss what the programme got right – and where we think it could have done better

It’s just over a week now since BBC aired its Panorama episode entitled Road Rage: Cars v Bikes, which has given plenty of time to reflect on the issues raised in the programme, and its treatment of them.

> Review: Panorama – Road Rage: Cars v Bikes

In this special episode of the Podcast in association with Laka, host George is joined by editor Jack and community manager Simon to discuss what the programme did well – for example, highlighting the dangers cyclists face every day on Britain’s roads – and where we think there could have been some room for improvement.


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Much of the criticism of the programme on social media lay in the decision, when presenting a counterpoint to experts such as Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK who put the case for active travel, to choose newspaper columnist Rod Liddle, no stranger to penning anti-cyclist pieces, to put forward the contrary view, and we talk about how perhaps a more balanced view could have been sought.

> Road Rage: Cars v Bikes’: BBC’s Panorama episode receives mixed reception

Also highlighted in our discussion are issues including the difficulties of fitting such a wide-ranging topic into the constraints of a half-hour programme aimed at a general audience and, more widely, the importance of language and need to avoid generalisations in coverage of cycling and road safety.

> ‘Road rage’ on BBC Panorama: fuelling the fire or raising awareness? We interview the presenter on the Podcast

The Podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and Amazon Music, and if you have an Alexa you can just tell it to play the Podcast. It's also embedded further up the page, so you can just press play.

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Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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hutchdaddy | 1 year ago

I haven't as yet watched the programme, but it's not cars v bikes, that is far too simplistic. Cyclists mostly also drive, it's bad and selfish drivers v cyclists.

Simon_MacMichael replied to hutchdaddy | 1 year ago

Indeed, and one of the points we make in the podcast is that most adult cyclists also drive. Another one we make though is that when eg BBC News addresses motoring issues, it seems based on assumption that everyone drives - in my west London borough, only around half of households have access to a motor vehicle, and in other boroughs in the city it is way lower than that.

BSausage replied to Simon_MacMichael | 1 year ago

I find the 'everyone drives' assumption odd from the BBC which is also accused of being London-centric. I suppose most adults do drive outside London, but yes in London it's very common not to drive.

hutchdaddy replied to BSausage | 1 year ago
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I didn't learn to drive until I was 29, neither of my parents owned a car because they never learned to drive. I was born in London, used public transport or walked as a kid, bought a decent cycle in my teens and never looked back. Only learned to drive so I could share driving with my girlfriend, we split up and I kept on cycling to work, the shops or to see friends. Personally 95% bof the time I would rather cycle than drive. I live in a village with almost no public transport and need a car to get most of the way to work, or to go to the supermaket. The most important things I need in a car is: cheap to run, easy to repair, CD player to listen to decent music and enough space with the seats down to get my cycle in the back. 

Awavey replied to BSausage | 1 year ago

those of us who dont live in London think the BBC is already "London-centric" enough (particularly topical as the BBC are dismantling their regional content), I remember a couple of London MPs on one of their politics shows discussing the night tube or night buses, and how they couldnt understand why anyone would own a car with such fantastic public transport, and it had to pointed out to them "night buses" to most of the rest of the country equates to the last bus is 5pm, assuming there even is a bus.

77% of UK households owns a car according to the lastest stats, I believe locally for me its up around 86%-90%. I dont think the BBC are only representing some marginal majority when it comes to motoring issues that impact the UK population.

in fact one of my criticisms of this Panorama episode was it ended up focussed too much on only London cycling issues like the Holborn gyratory,the Kensington bike lane, Cycling Mikeys stuff, none of which linked with any of the items from the rest of country, because theyre very much London specific issues, not UK cycling specific problems. If they reinstall Kensington bike lane, or fix Holborn, will that make it safer to ride along the A1094 to Aldeburgh, no because its fundamentally a road that you take your life in your (or drivers) hands to cycle on and thats fundamentally the general issue that faces cyclists on UK roads.

I think the most relevant point you highlighted in this podcast is they went searching for the conflict, and thats absolutely what every segment they picked was about because theres no real thread linking between a cyclist being hit in Ashby de la Zouche by a car to two riders being killed to Mikey standing on Gandalf corner, which fwiw he's a pedestrian in much of that stuff, its just a collection of stuff that ended in conflict where one party involved happens to ride a bike.

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