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Proof anti-LTN group falsely claimed cyclists drove to safety protest for "photo op" leads local paper staffer to apologise

A group opposed to the active travel schemes had shared a photo of a 4x4 with bike racks nearby, but the vehicle was unrelated to the safer streets demonstration

On Saturday, Safe Streets Now protests unfolded up and down the country, demanding justice for the victims of road danger and calling for a change to a society that "for decades prioritised the convenience of travelling by car at the expense of our safety".

One such protest, in Oxford, has become the centre of a misinformation row, the picture at the heart of the matter widely shared on Twitter apparently showing a large Volvo 4x4 with bike racks parked near the site of the demonstration, The Plain roundabout where University of Oxford academic Dr Ling Felce was killed while cycling in March of last year by an unlicensed lorry driver under the influence of drugs.

The car was that of someone attending the protest, a group called 'Cowley LTN’s #OneOX4' claimed. "How do you know it's pro-LTN protest day? When the NIMBYs park their 4x4 like this and unload their bikes for the photo op. You couldn't make it up."

Well, that last statement turned out to be incorrect, attendees including Green Party councillor Emily Kerr saying "that at no stage did we try to hold a photoshoot with bicycles", before another reply explained how the car actually belonged to someone from the local shops, not the protest.

The picture and post remains on the account page of the group who says it represents "residents of Cowley and nearby who have not been consulted on the low-traffic neighbourhoods", the schemes which promote active travel by blocking through traffic in selected residential areas.

Since Saturday it has been viewed more than 20,000 times and shared by hundreds, including the local newspaper's 'print audience and content editor', who has since apologised and confirmed with the Oxford Mail's photographer who attended the event that no such "photo op" occured.

"It wasn't my post but apologies for retweet in error, subsequently undone on learning it was unconnected," he replied to one person pointing out the mistake. 

"Looks like you could indeed 'make it up'," Cllr Kerr concluded. "Also I mean just in terms of the balance of probability, on Oxford's student move-in weekend, a car with a bike rack dangerously parked is likely to be: A: a student moving in, who doesn’t know the area well. B: the people protesting the lack of road safety at THAT VERY SITE. C. The owner of the nearby shop who often parks there. I am going to come out and say option B isn't the first one which would occur to me."

In reply, the Oxford Mail's content editor said he was "happy to confirm" with the
newspaper's photographer who came to the protest that there was no bike photo op, and again added, "apologies for retweet in error, subsequently undone on learning it was unconnected".

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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9 comments

Avatar
Daveyraveygravey | 9 months ago
2 likes

This is 100% typical of media attitudes to cyclists.  That tosser of a journalist should be made to ride to work for a month, get some perspective.

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Robert Hardy replied to Daveyraveygravey | 9 months ago
1 like

His inability to fact check would suggest he is improperly employed and might be usefully replaced by a more careful journalist, I believe it is a notoriously difficult occupation to find work in and there must be many hundreds who could replace him.

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Rome73 | 9 months ago
17 likes

Why is making streets safer and more accessible to all (not just motor vehicles) such a red rag for some people? LTNs are fantastic. I can't believe that anyone who lives in one would want to revert back.  But then the antis are usually from outside the area. 

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Sriracha replied to Rome73 | 9 months ago
8 likes

Because they don't live in "LTNs". They live in leafy cul-de-sacs!

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Dicklexic replied to Rome73 | 9 months ago
7 likes

Because "it's just one more battle in the 'war on motorists' and part of a big governement conspiracy to curtail out freedoms" or something like that anyway.

Similar thing occuring in Wales over the new default 20mph limits, with many disgruntled drivers up in arms about having to potentially add a few minutes to their average journey in order to make other road users safer. Yes there are real world cost and time consequences from the change, but they fail to acknowledge the bigger implications and benefits of safer roads.

It seems that many drivers prioritise their own convenience over the health and wellbeing of ANYBODY outside of their own car.

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Dicklexic replied to Rome73 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Edit: Double post...

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lonpfrb replied to Dicklexic | 9 months ago
2 likes
Dicklexic wrote:

Because "it's just one more battle in the 'war on motorists'

This is Trumpistan (accountability free) trope for the licenced motor vehicle users responsibility and obligations.

Just because bad people want to act without accountability does not mean we must accept that.

Clarification is to the motorists advantage for the avoidance of doubt and cost.

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bensynnock replied to Dicklexic | 9 months ago
3 likes

We've had 20mph limits here in Southampton rolling out for some time, with a recent extension to the area I live in. I haven't noticed any increase in my journey times (in the car), because there's always a queue, or a light, or a junction, that will slow me down more.

On about three occasions I've been overtaken aggressively while driving at 20, only to catch up to the speeder at the lights. 20mph makes no difference to journey times, and is much more pleasant for everyday else.

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tootsie323 replied to Rome73 | 9 months ago
1 like

They immediately link LTNs to 15-minute cities. Which, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

... Until they take the interpretation from amenities-within-a-15-minute-walk to you-can't-go-more-than-15-minutes-from-your-home.

(where's the facepalm emoji when you need it?)

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