Anti-Cyclist Media Bias
“Motorists: Cyclists are not another species – most of them drive cars at least some of the time – and they’re not, by and large, wilfully stupid or reckless. But they experience the roads differently from you…So be patient.
After all, it’s not as if getting rid of cyclists is a realistic option now – there are too many of them, and the numbers are growing all the time. And a few years down the line, as petrol gets more expensive, you might well end up as one of them yourself.”
Robert Hanks, The Independent, 12th June 2006
Here is several extremely varied articles from Australia and overseas that discuss media bias towards cyclists. As you can read for yourself, attempting educate the media to accurately portray cycling in a positive light is an ongoing struggle.
Afterall, the media in all it’s forms, does influence the greater community in their attitudes towards cyclists, and unfortunately can assist to reinforce illogical perceptions.
For the flipside to anti-cyclist media reporting, please read our Positive Spin pages for inspiring and proactive cycling articles.
A key finding which should be noted was that, when commenting on the scenarios it was usually the behaviour of the cyclist that was criticised – no matter how small the misdemeanour. Few links were made between the cyclist’s behaviour and any external influences that could be affecting their choice of behaviour; i.e. the respondents’ comments indicated that they thought the cyclist’s actions were inherent and dispositional behaviours.
In contrast, the motorists’ misdemeanours were excused or justified in terms of the situational influences. As this tendency seemed to continue across the groups and the individual depth interviews and was unprompted, it is unlikely that group dynamics had any significant effect on this finding. [...] This aligns with the psychological prediction of targeting of members of an ‘out group’ .
These illogical perceptions and assumptions make it difficult for any reasonable debate of issues. That in turn, creates a hostile environment for ALL road users, please read our media articles page regarding this issue. If you have further links, articles and comments, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Australian Media and Comments
Brisbane Times: John Birmingham – Peddling commuter anger
Has is it ever occurred to you that maybe bicycle riders don’t belong in the city? It did to me the other morning as I crawled across the Story Bridge at about 12 klicks-per behind some stupidly smug, selfish git on one of those dumb-arse bikes you sort of lie back into like a recliner lounge. (October 2007)
Daily Telegraph: Cyclists drive us to the 10th circle of hell
If Dante was to be reincarnated in Sydney today, he’d add another chapter to his Inferno based purely on his first exposure to the traffic in this Godforsaken metropolis. There’s no shortage of torments to choose from in this 10th circle of hell – the dysfunctional tunnels, motorways that gridlock in the event of someone sneezing, the perpetual inability of Sydney drivers to indicate. (September 2007)
Wheels of Justice: Critical Mass, Media Watch and the Press Council Adjudication
The ABC’s Media Watch has broadcast a segment dealing with the Press Council adjudication on the Daily Telegraph article “Chain gang chokes city” published November 25, 2006. This adjudication was made on the print copy, which differed greatly to the online version.(May 2007)
Daily Telegraph: This disturbing cycle is just a critical mess
A Scientist recently discovered that motorists pass, on average, 7.5cm closer to cyclists in helmets than they do to someone riding along bare-headed. Presumably, drawing some faith in his or her “riderly’’ competence from the mere presence of the helmet.
It has never occurred to me it might matter to drivers what a cyclist wears because, clothed or naked, with a helmet or not, all cyclists in the city are irritating and I find bring on an overwhelming desire to swerve towards. But perhaps never so much as yesterday when they held every evening peak-hour motorist in Sydney to ransom. (November 2006)
Herald Sun: Bike bullies ignore laws
The St Kilda Cycling Club is planning a memorial ride tomorrow to mark the Beach Rd death of James Gould. The riders, no doubt well-intentioned, will be very lucky if bayside residents don’t line the road at Mentone, armed with eggs, tacks and abuse. Mr Gould, as many will know, was the 77-year-old struck down at the weekend by a cyclist as the notorious Hell Ride roared through. (August 2006)
SMH: Traffic hazard ahead: vegan cyclists
Sydney is reaching gridlock and motorists are not to blame, writes Miranda Devine. The Cross City Tunnel debacle seems to have delivered more ammunition to the anti-car lobby, alas. The new toll road failed because its real purpose was not to move cars from east to west but to deliver $100 million up front to a profligate State Government in exchange for closing down rival routes. (June 2006)
Courier Mail: My Torque – Mark Hinchliffe
Some of the complaints about hoons terrorising Mt Glorious, west of Brisbane, are justified. This is one of the best roads in Australia for motoring enthusiasts. It is scenic and challenging. However, there is a minority element of motorcyclists and car enthusiasts who treat it as their personal racetrack. They spoil it for everyone. However, cyclists are also to blame for making the mountain dangerous. (Feb 2006)
- Crikey: NSW Government, on your bike By Michael Pascoe (Dec 2005)
- Crikey: Your Say: The death penalty, Gerard, Walkleys and bikes v cars (Dec 2005)
Sydney Morning Herald: Off yer bike – for the sake of all of us on the roads
By Michael Duffy
It’s time to get bikes off our roads. As a mainstream form of transport, the bicycle has proved itself the equivalent of communism: a lovely idea that failed dismally in practice. Bikes are dangerous to ride and slow traffic, which creates more pollution. For the good of all of us, we need to ban the bike. (Dec 2005)
- Sydney Morning Herald Letters: Bike riders versus motorists – it’s all the rage (Dec 2005)
- Bicycle NSW’s response to Duffy’s article (Dec 2005)
- Farkin.net: online forum ‘discussion’ of Duffy’s article. (Dec 2005)
- Cyclingforums/aus.bicycle: Off yer bike – for the sake of all of us on the roads (Dec 2005)
- Cyclingforums/aus.bicycle: A Current Affair Thursday 4/8
- Cyclingforums/aus.bicycle: Motorists will even hate us more now
- Cyclingforums/aus.bicycle: Channel 9 beat up Cyclist Vs Motorists
Emerald Hill Weekly: Why can’t cyclists pay their way? (Aug 2005)
Mayor Darren Ray justifies the parking permit fee hike by saying the money will be spent on pedestrian and cycling facilities. That’s great, but I was taken aback by his statement that “it was about time motorists subsidised pedestrians and cyclists, rather than the other way round”. Surely he’s not suggesting that cyclists, the freeloaders of the road, have subsidised motorists in the past.
The Rae Street Institute: Dole bludging fat kids on bikes (Aug 2005)
ACA fired another salvo in the current bike media war tonight. I’m going to run with a full transcript first, then pull it part.
cfsmtb: Melbourne Meedya Spin Cycle (Aug 2005)
You wouldn’t have to be a cyclist, or even hiding under a small pile of rocks here in Melbourne to realise the meedya have again targeted those two-wheeled road locusts. Instead of reviewing the usual hyperbole-laden rhetoric, lets follow the discussion via what cyclists are saying…
- The Age, Letters to the Editor: Soup and other Nazis :: Cyclingforums/aus.bicycle discussion thread (Aug 2005)
- Sydney Morning Herald: Letters to the Editor: Idiots on two wheels :: Drivers’ selfish behaviour makes it tough for cyclists :: Cyclists have a right to ride without being abused (July 2004)
Herald Sun: Neil Mitchell – Minister, off ya bike, please
It isn’t too difficult to get a taxi licence these days. so here’s an idea for our bicycle-obsessed Minister for Transport: try some real life experience, and drive a cab for a month. It is increasingly obvious that Peter Batchelor needs a dose of the four-wheel mayhem that unfolds on the roads every day, because he does not understand the problems of cars and their drivers. This is a car culture. It will not change. We love our cars, we need our cars and we want our cars. It is time the State Government stopped trying to force us into the trendy world of the lentil-eating bike lobby and began to manage for that reality. (May 2004)
- Sydney Morning Herald: Cane Toads of the Modern Era (2002)
Overseas Media and Comments
Bicycle Life: Bicyclists, Motorists and the Language of Marginalization
by Mighk Wilson: Racism, Sexism and Mode-ism
Some might be offended by the idea of comparing the hatred and violence directed at bicyclists with the hatred and violence directed at people due to race, culture or gender. Yet, I believe it is entirely appropriate.
Bicycling.com: Media, Radio stations attack cyclists again (2004)
Portland Independent Media Center: Clear Channel DJs Encourage Drivers To Harass Bicyclists (2003)
Triangle MTB.com: Clear Channel Promotes Violence Against Cycling (2003)
North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving: Response to Clear Channels anti-bicyclist broadcasts (2003)
Brasscheck: San Francisco Critical Mass: Politically motivated police violence in the San Francisco Bay Area (1997/98)