Friday, 21 May 2010

Cycling shouldn't be this hard.

To BBC Look East (

Also at:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing to complain about your feature on 20th May about the cyclist knocked from his bicycle. After showing the footage, your reporter moved straight to verbal diarrhoea from viewers, rather than any analysis or meaningful review of the video you showed. Perhaps your reporter thinks that someone being knocked from his bicycle by a careless driver doesn't merit any analysis?

I have a number of questions and suggestions I'd like answering:

1. When you report traffic incidents on the show, how often is this 'vox pop' format used?
2. How often are traffic accidents reported on the show? How many of these involve cyclists?
3. Is there any requirement on journalists to verify / counter statements used by viewers in the quotes read out? (For example, "cyclists don't pay road tax", "cyclists being given rights to complain about cars".)
4. Do you think your journalists should undertake any factual research into the comments being read out? (Would you for example, read out or display a statement like "all the immigrants in our town are illegal, and avoiding taxes" or "white men are more intelligent than black men"?)
5. Does the BBC have any requirement to fairly reflect different points of view when using this format? (Your journalist seems largely to have used quotes from people who either don't cycle, or have a very negative view of cycling.)

And some suggestions:

- Why not use the video to look at general road safety? Driving like that endangers pedestrians as well as cyclists.
- Why not use it to look at the legal situation - should the police have been called? is what happened breaking the law?
- You could look at how other countries / boroughs approach traffic safety.
- You could ask why someone was parked straight across a cycle lane.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tim Lennon.

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