By Keir Gallagher
Friday, 21 September 2018
Earlier this year, two similar collisions on the same day drew radically different responses from the press. Cycling UK’s Keir Gallagher discusses how unbalanced reporting distracts the Government from making our roads safer, and how we can overcome this by raising our voices as one.
On 28 of August, at around 2:30pm, a driver and a cyclist collided in Merseyside. A witness said the car was “purposely driven into the bloke on the bike” leaving him “badly injured”. The driver left the scene, later abandoning the car and, as far as we can tell, has still not been found.
On the same day, about two and a half hours later, a cyclist and a pedestrian collided in London. So far, there has been no public evidence to suggest the cyclist was riding irresponsibly. Both parties were injured, but the pedestrian sadly died from her injuries a number of weeks later. The cyclist left the scene, later abandoning the bicycle, but handed himself into police the next day.
With ongoing police investigations into each case, I won’t comment or speculate further on either case, the driver and cyclists’ reasons for leaving the scene or the causes of the collisions.
However, what cannot be ignored is the stark contrast in the media’s response to these two cases, and what it tells us about the Government’s self-acclaimed mission to “crack down on dangerous cycling”.
Despite the apparently deliberate nature of the attack on the cyclists, the news probably hasn’t reached you, as it was reported only in a local paper.
Despite the apparently deliberate nature of the attack on the cyclists, the news probably hasn’t reached you, as it was reported only in a local paper – the Liverpool Echo. The article itself is pretty standard as far as road traffic collision reporting goes – brief details, a witnesses account and a call for evidence from police.
The press reaction to the London collision, however, is a somewhat different story. From the BBC to the Daily Mail, the collision hit national headlines in pretty much every single major news outlet. What’s more, much of the reporting goes far beyond the usual ‘matter of fact’ traffic collision story, and instead uses sensationalist statements to portray cyclists as a menace on the roads and the arch enemy of pedestrians.
The Sun, for example, highlighted that this crash “follows a number of fatal collisions between cyclists and pedestrians in recent years”. Strange that I can’t find a single report on a collision between a motorist and a pedestrian in which the paper highlights that it ‘follows many thousands of fatal collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians in recent years’.