tue 16/07/2019

Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets?, Channel 5 review - can we make the roads a safer place? | reviews, news & interviews

Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets?, Channel 5 review - can we make the roads a safer place?

Cyclists: Scourge of the Streets?, Channel 5 review - can we make the roads a safer place?

Provocative documentary unlikely to promote harmony on the highway

Healthy, efficient and carbon-neutral, cycling ought to be a transport panacea. But in the dash for lycra, perhaps not enough attention has been paid to letting bikes and motor vehicles co-exist peacefully. This deliberately provocative Channel 5 documentary, which has sparked an angry backlash from within the cycling community, found plenty of ammunition from both sides.

It took the easy option by rounding up some grouchy London black-cab drivers to have a sustained whinge about the two-wheeled plague which they see as yet another threat to their livelihood (nobody mentioned Uber). They seethed as cyclists whizzed through red traffic lights and detoured along pavements. We saw policemen ignoring the cyclists’ behaviour even though it was right under their noses, which further stoked the cabbies’ ire. (As a cyclist myself, I can confirm that the police aren’t always so lenient). For a bit of balance, later on we met PC Hodson, a Midlands traffic policeman who often gets on his bike and does his best to educate motorists to be more more alert and aware of their surroundings, get off their phones and give cyclists a bit of space on the roads.

Meanwhile in Surrey, the film had tracked down locals incensed by the pedal-powered army of recreational cyclists blocking the leafy back roads. Box Hill has become a particular hotspot since it formed part of the cycling road race course during the London Olympics. We went for a drive with local resident Ian, restricted to a stately 10mph by cyclists riding four abreast down country lanes. “Surrey has become an open-air velodrome,” Ian grunted.

But it goes without saying that in any clash between bikes and motor vehicles, it’s the cyclists who come off worst, and there was chilling footage of riders being swiped by trucks and flying over car bonnets. Dave Sherry (an Essex bus driver, pictured above) has turned himself into a cycling avenger, videoing dangerous drivers and reporting illegal mobile-phone users to the police. We even saw him getting into a spat with a couple of white-van men who’d parked on a pavement, prompting Dave to threaten that he’d “see them in court”. Revelling in his nickname of “Britain’s most hated cyclist”, he loves turning out as a witness to ensure his victims are convicted. But would a private army of self-righteous vigilantes really be the answer?

There was chilling footage of riders being swiped by trucks and flying over car bonnets

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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