The War on Britain’s Roads

The War on Britain’s Roads combines footage captured by cyclists through helmet-mounted cameras, with interviews from cyclists, drivers and those affected by incidents on our roads. Viewers are parachuted into the middle of the battle that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts.

The documentary airs on Wednesday the 5th of December at 9pm on BBC1 but is there really a war on the roads?

War is a strong word, one that suggests a them vs us and that there is daily conflict on the road. There is obviously some concern coming from the cycling community about this. As what better way to make cycling look dangerous than to convey the roads as a war zone and to show countless videos of dangerous driving.

And whilst this may have a negative affect, this has all come around because of the poor driving that some of us have received over the years. If the documentary can get through to people about how vulnerable we are and how much space we require, then surely it must be a good thing.

Those of us that film will be the first ones to admit how safe it is on the roads. Whilst watching my youtube videos may seem like I run in with a lot of lunatics, you have to take into consideration how many miles I travel and under what traffic conditions.
Most of my riding is done in central London during rush hour traffic, I can do anything from 120miles – 300 miles in a week in those conditions and average over 6,000 miles a year. On average I probably pass and get passed by 4,500 vehicles a week, lets say 250,000 vehicles a year. For the past 3 years that would make 18,000 miles covered and 750,000 vehicles passed. I would say that I have had no more than 50 bad interactions with vehicles in that time. That means I’ll have an incident every 15,000 vehicles or 360 miles.
Considering that I spend most of my time cycling in rush hour traffic, where people just want to get home or into the office on time. I don’t think that is too bad.

So is it a war? It could be described as such. I wouldn’t say it was cyclists vs motorists though, more good road users vs bad road users. It’s not just cyclists who are using cameras, motorcyclists, horse riders and motorists use them to record what they experience on the roads.

I’ve had some involvement with the documentary and whilst they are advertising it as a war (hopefully to gain attention), I don’t think that is the way they program is going, more raising awareness of the issues that we experience on the roads.

5 thoughts on “The War on Britain’s Roads

  1. I suppose you could say there is a war between safe and considerate road users, and dangerous and selfish ones. But still, an unnecessarily emotive word, obviously only used to generate controversy for the programme.

  2. I agree it is a war – it is the right word – the little petty attacks – the closing of space the swipe as they pass – its a cowardly war fought by ignorant people – there is propaganda too… the commonly understood believe that we the cyclist are somehow anarchic red light jumping pavement riding yobs – you try to make a statistical amelioration of the risk – but it only takes one of those 50 to get it wrong and for you to be injured or killed… no consciously prosecuted agressive use of a car or bus or lorry to express the myopic frustrations of its driver is acceptable – ever.

  3. It’s a phoney war – a lot of cyclists who experience a steady negative attitude from many drivers, and a lot of public who believe or want to believe that cyclists are the problem.
    Unfortunately it’s the message from the bad guys that still holds sway.

  4. A lot of the casualties of this ‘war’ are the huge numbers of adults and children who don’t end up cycling.

  5. I thought the BBC documentary was “balanced”, in precisely the way the BBC likes to “balance” these things. So we were presented with some kind of equivalance between a cyclist who “over-reacts” (raises his voice & taps on taxi) and the driver who “over-reacts” (threatens the cyclist with physical violence, and cuts him up). Likewise there was an equivalance drawn between cyclists endangering pedestrians and motorists endangering cyclists without mentioning the gulf in incidents resulting in serious injuries or death between these two categories. In fact pedestrians are more likely to be injured or killed by a car mounting a pavement than by a cyclist.

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