A local news series that features readers' cars has switched to cycling this week, after a number of cyclists inundated the submission page to be featured with images and details about their bikes instead. The Southern Daily Echo say they had signed over their "weekly platform for petrolheads" to cyclists yesterday, giving readers the opportunity to learn about "their take on their beloved bikes and the environmental benefits".
Last week's edition of the Daily Echo's 'Me and My Motor' series starred a BMW M140i, with its owner gushing: "A car for me, is an extension of its owners personality, there’s nothing better than picking up the keys and going for a blast on the B-roads early on a Sunday morning."
This attracted a fair few negative comments, with one saying: "Any chance of the Echo doing similar with readers/residents' bicycles, or are you just going to continue promoting motor traffic?"
An anonymous road.cc reader says the idea above picked up steam on social media, with a number of cyclists deciding to send details and photos of their bikes to the 'Me and My Motor' submission page instead.
The reader explained: "The Echo has a track record of stoking antagonism about cycling, particularly in Southampton and the New Forest, and in recent months has given extensive prominence to opposition to the (fairly minimal) new cycling infrastructure introduced in Southampton over the summer.
"Last week they then published a pretty vacuous 'Me and My Motor' piece about some YouTuber's BMW... who it turns out is from Leeds, so there wasn't even a local angle.
"Discussion on social media of whether they would ever offer such positive promotion of cycling led to the idea of cyclists using the Echo's link for anyone wanting to be subject of the column to submit their bikes instead.
"It seems enough of us did that the Echo responded to the influx and made us feature of the column this week. About the most positive coverage of cycling and cyclists in The Echo I can remember!"
Sure enough, yesterday's edition was instead titled "My push bike is better than any car: cycling enthusiasts take over petrolheads platform" and featured five cyclists and their bikes, including the Trek 75 Multitrack belonging to Southampton city councillor John Savage. As well as showing off their steeds, some of the cyclists also discuss road safety and the environment, with Cllr Savage saying: "I know a couple of cyclists who have died through collisions and I know a handful of people who have had life changing injuries. We need to make it much safer. I've been cycling for years so I feel I've got good awareness of other vehicles on the road, but there's always a danger. At 62 years old, I don't bounce very well."
While a small number of pop-up cycle lanes have appeared in Southampton since cash from the Emergency Active Travel Fund was made available, there has been some vocal opposition. Royston Smith, the Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, claimed back in June that the City Council were "exacerbating congestion" by constructing pop-up cycle lanes.
The anonymous road.cc reader hopes this bike-themed takeover of Me and My Motor might lead to "some more positive coverage" of cycling in the Southampton area.
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.