This Headline is Misleading

The way a headline or article is written can make a big difference to how an event is perceived.

Consider the recent video of a cyclist, doored by a parked car, causing him to be pushed into the path of a following taxi.

This has been picked up by various media outlets. Compare the headlines:

Cyclist knocked into path of oncoming taxi by car door

Heart-stopping moment cyclist falls into path of a black cab after swerving to avoid car door

Dramatic dash cam footage captures moment cyclist falls into path of oncoming taxi

With:

Terrifying moment cyclist swerves in front of London cabbie captured on film

LBC had also originally run a headline of

WATCH: Heart-stopping video captures the moment cyclist veers in front of taxi

But they since changed it to

Cyclist Almost Run Over While Avoiding Car Door

The two headlines in the second group clearly imply that the cyclist just suddenly swerved in front of the taxi, with no mention of the dooring that caused it. A casual reader, who then didn’t read the actual article, would be left with the impression that the cyclist was the agent of their own misfortune, when nothing could be further from the truth.

At least LBC responded to criticism and changed their headline to more accurately reflect the facts. At the time of writing, ITV’s is still there.

It’s pretty lazy and irresponsible of journalists (or subeditors) to write headlines like this. So if you see headlines that follow the pattern above, do please complain to the organisation, and maybe they’ll get the message.

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Dangerous Cycle Lanes

Following on from my post about the cyclist hit by someone opening their door without looking, I asked people to provide examples of cycle lanes that abutted parked cars, which not only encourage cyclists to ride in a dangerous position, but give drivers an incorrect notion of where cyclists ought to be.

I was completely inundated with responses. It seems this problem is widespread, with locations all over the UK and abroad where road designers have actually built cycle lanes that increase the danger posed to cyclists. The purpose of cycle lanes is too often seen as a way of removing cycles from being “in the way” of motor vehicles, rather than safely separating cyclists and motor vehicles to make it safer for cyclists. Designers need to build it right, or not build it at all.

We desperately need minimum design standards for cycle infrastructure, in the same way as we have design standards for “normal” roads, that local authorities are obliged to follow.

Here are a few of the examples I received.



Many thanks to the following twitter users:

@Berk_On_A_Bike
@ChrisC_CFC
@citycyclists
@HelenCLondon
@BedHead1158
@fyinnertube
@mikeqtoo
@ErnieMarples
@JoeSoap76
@StripyMoggie
@UrbanManc
@DracorumOrder
@adventuresofrob
@lizbatty

And thanks to everyone else who responded. Sorry I couldn’t use them all, but this post was getting loser-length enough as it was!

The Door Zone

Most cyclists know to avoid the door zone; that area abutting parked cars where a door could be carelessly flung open into one’s path. And here is an excellent example as to why.

The driver did well to get on the brakes and avoid running over the cyclist. If I had been driving I would have hung back and not overtaken the cyclist until there was more room – don’t forget, cyclists can fall off for all sorts of reasons such as pot holes.

Official training and advice reinforces this.

However, there several instances of “official” cycle infrastructure that encourages you to ride in the door zone

Furthermore, it is also a common occurrence to receive abuse from some ignorant motorists for taking primary.

Do we need a public information film to explain to drivers that when we take primary position, it’s not to annoy drivers, but for our own safety and visibility?