7 May 2019

Social Media User Calls Out Newspapers for Reporting of Cycling-Related Deaths

A campaigner has taken to Twitter to highlight the differences in reporting between pedestrian deaths caused by cars in London and those caused by cyclists.

Twitter user @ormandroyd, who only gives their name as being 'Jon', started a thread highlighting inconsistent and disproportional reporting 18 months ago, shortly after 20yr old cyclist Charlie Alliston was sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders institution for the death of a pedestrian.

Alliston was found guilty of causing the death of Kim Briggs in London through 'wanton and furious driving’ in October 2017. Since the verdict, Jon has posted a large number of stories from national newspapers relating to cases where motorists who have killed or seriously injured more vulnerable road users have been cleared, received lenient sentences, or have simply not been charged at all.

As you would expect, the content of the thread is upsetting. If you wish to read it, however, then you can find it here.

Cycling websites such as Road.cc argue that it is the rarity of cases such as Alliston's, where a cyclist has caused the death of a pedestrian, that cause them to be reported in a more sensationalist way. Conversely, deaths caused by motorists are no longer seen as newsworthy because they are so commonplace.

One example that Road.cc points to was found in the Daily Express newspaper, which ran a headline stating that 'Cyclists kill or maim two pedestrians every week, according to statistics' just weeks after Alliston's guilty verdict.

The statistics in question came from the Department of Transport, which revealed that 25 pedestrians had died over the previous seven years, with a further 700 injured following accidents involving a cyclist. What the statistics did not do, however, was apportion blame to each case. A much greater number were killed in incidents involving motor vehicles on Britain's roads in 2017 alone, with 470 pedestrians and 101 cyclists among an overall death toll of 1,792.

While it may be difficult to see a massive change in the reporting of these incidents taking place, threads such as Jon's can prove vital in raising awareness of the struggles that vulnerable road users face.

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