“Meanwhile, in an adrenaline-filled one-off film for BBC One, viewers will be parachuted into the middle of a war that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts in The War On Britain’s Roads. As more and more people take up cycling as a way of beating the traffic or just keeping fit on their commute, the potential for conflict between cyclists and drivers has increased massively.”
Wow! War! Parachuting! Conflict! Adrenaline! Shocking! There’s no doubt that when the BBC commissioned a film titled “The War On Britain’s Roads” from Leopard Films they were seeking an emotional response from people. Will this documentary be a welcomed balanced argument or has the BBC gone too far in the never-ending quest to draw in TV audiences?
Is it really a war?
For a start, suggesting this is a war, very much goes against everything cycling campaigners have been working towards up until recent times. In the UK, “Share the roads” has always been the adopted adage. The reasoning being that there’s simply no room for cycle lanes and no money to invest in proper cycling infrastructure. Instead, we should all co-exist peacefully in a “Why can’t we be friends?” style scenario.
In recent times there’s been an acceptance that if you want to enjoy the fruits that come along with mass cycling – healthier people, less congested roads, lower pollution levels – then it’s not enough to simply ask people to cycle but you also need to provide the facilities for them to feel safe to do so. The culmination of this new thinking of course being the LCC’s Love London Go Dutch campaign. A campaign that has had a strong beginning, with all the leading mayoral candidates pledging support for at least some of its principles.
Perhaps then the “War On Britain’s Roads” will be a good thing. We should accept that essentially that’s what it is. We are in a continuous battle, fighting for our space on the roads. To label it as anything less than a war would be to ignore the elephant in the room.
I strongly doubt that’s true. The reality is that most motorists and cyclists are simply busy getting from A to B. In the process of doing so, occasionally they’ll be conflicts. A bus will pull in too soon, a taxi driver will honk because you are taking up the bus lane and a cyclist will run through a red light. In order to avoid continuous stress, more often than not we should just shrug our shoulders and let it be. Calling it a war serves to do little more than fuel the road rage some people feel.
Providing a balanced view – yawn!
“Leopard Films’ 60-minute The War on Britain’s Roads for BBC1 uses what Moore described as “shocking” footage of the conflict between cyclists and motorists. It is regarded within the BBC as having the greatest series potential.”
Whilst the final documentary remains to be seen, the language from the BBC press release along with what is written on the Leopard Films website gives little to suggest that they’ll be a balanced view provided.
On the forums and via Twitter many cyclists are wondering whether the less TV worthy aspects of Britain’s roads will be touched upon. Such as the fact the majority of journeys are conflict free or to show instead some of the joys of cycling.
Personally, I’m holding higher hopes for the Channel 4 documentary that will in part be looking at the problems and solutions to bicycle theft.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.