Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, criticises the Institute of Advanced Motorists for sending out a press release that used dodgy stats on red light running by cyclists and which was subsequently picked up by red-tops and reported as though real research had been done.
Here’s Darnton’s letter to the IAM’s press office:
"I am writing on behalf of the Bicycle Association of Great Britain regarding your press release issued on the 15 May.
"I appreciate that you will have had responses from many quarters already, but I formally wanted to register the dismay of the BAGB at your action.
"Historically the Bicycle Association has had a positive and close working relationship with IAM, and many discussions with Duncan Pickering and also Lord Redesdale over the years. We developed a very constructive relationship and the IAM has been most helpful in the promotion of cycling.
"We were therefore utterly amazed by the irresponsible action of issuing this ill thought-out press release. Clearly the survey has no statistical significance of any kind at all; it is not representative of the nation as a whole, and yet claims to be a national survey. It is not structured in any way to provide a cross-section of responses by region, by age or by gender. The idea that a web poll of 1600 people could be the basis of such a conclusion is quite unacceptable.
"It is doubly unfortunate that the tenor of your release is clearly anti-cyclist; while some statistics are included in the text to provide a modicum of balance the headline is of course the point which will stick in journalists’ minds.
"The Bicycle Association is at a loss to understand what the purpose of your press release could possibly be. Inevitably it will further inflame the animosity of motorists towards cyclists and serve only to create more tension between road users. Until now the objective of the IAM has truly been to help create a culture in which we learn that roads belong to everyone – from pushchair to wheelchair. They are not the preserve of any one group, and certainly not motorists. All our endeavours are to train, educate and encourage people to learn how to share roads with respect and courtesy – statistics like this bogus research serve only to do precisely the opposite.
"It is with profound disappointment that the Bicycle Association has to most strongly object to a clumsy and ill thought piece of work from an organisation which until now had our respect and support."