Following on from a horror 24 hours in which both Shane Sutton and Bradley Wiggins are crocked in 'SMIDSY' incidents, we review the national press and attitude's on cycle safety

What the papers have to say about cycle safety today

To be fair to the national press, the issue of cycle safety has gained more column inches than ever before in the past year, particularly within The Times and The Guardian, two supporters of the future of two wheel travel.

Cycling safety has, however, been thrust further into the spotlight across the board in the wake of two high profile incidents featuring professional cycling talent. 

This morning BikeBiz has keenly flicked through the pages of five newspapers to bring you the coverage highlights from each:

The Times

As you’d expect from an advocate of fit for purpose infrastructure for cycling, The Times front page features British Cycling’s call for ministers to put cycling "at the heart of its transport policy" and to "ensure that cycle safety is built into all road design."

Since Monday, 10,000 supporters have completed a questionaire on the newpaper’s website on how best to improve safety, infrastructure and road attitudes.

On Page 3 you’ll find some good comment, with statistics on crash reports, one in particular revealing that in 80 per cent of accidents the cyclist was injured depsite travelling in a straight line. In 40 per cent a motorist was moving off, turning or changing lane.

The Times reports that both were wearing helmets and that in Sutton’s case a helmet has not stopped a head trauma.

Page 32 also carries an opinion column.

The Sun

The Sun was one of the first national media outlets to report the Wiggins incident, yet as you’d expect it’s all about Wiggo and not about the wider angle of road safety. "Shaving off the sideburns" was jokingly blamed for the Olympian’s incident.

Having said that, The Sun is the only paper to dedicate it’s entire front page to the incidents today. The coverage continues to not take the incident particularly seriously today with captions such as "should have worn your hi-viz yellow shirt, Brad!" referring to his Tour De France yellow jersey.

The page five story focuses largely on the motorist’s disbelief of who the cyclist is that she’s "not seen". It also touches on internet trolling and, briefly, on a Twitter spat between Wiggin’s wife and Cycling Weekly magazine.

Daily Mail

The page 5 headline in the Mail hones in on Wiggin’s wife’s reaction on the forecourt where the incident took place and also states that Wiggins was knocked off his ‘Mountain bike’.

In fact, the entire article centres on the distraught motorist and even features some astonishing ‘quotes’. According to garage worker Yasmin Smith: "I was in the back room making tea. A lady pulled out of the garage turning left and she looked right and didn’t see him." BikeBiz’s isn’t entirely sure how you’d recognise from distance, in the dark, where a driver’s eyes were focused…

Referring to Sutton, the paper says "in a shocking coincidence, he was also hit by a car."

As yet there’s yet to be a column featured in the paper on the incident. It’d probably be cut and pasted from a prior article anyway.

The Independent

The front page flags up the Independent’s article, which is carried on page 3 and features comment from BikeBiz’s Carlton Reid and Mark Sutton, as well as British Cycling and AA President Edmund King.

Encouragingly, The Independent sets out as it means to go on, referring immediately to "calls for cyclists to receive better protection on the road from motorists."

The article discusses both high profile incidents, yet also takes the time to delve into the wider issue with more comment from team mates, advocates and industry than any other we’ve seen as yet. British Cycling are quoted as saying: "Cycling is not an intrinsically dangerousactivity, but there is much more that needs to be done to imporve conditions on the road for cyclists. The Goverment must ensure that cycle safety is built into the design of al new roads."

The photograph of Wiggins’ clear disapproval of the swarming paparazzi outside the hospital dominates the page. 

Page 3 also features comment from Simon Usborne who stresses the importance to take safety campaigns seriously. On the flipside, he also encourages readers not to be scared of cycling, stating it is not as dangerous as the media coverage would have you believe, assuming you’re sensible and aware. It’s also fantastic to see in print a prime spot columnist confirm that ‘road tax’ does not exist and that roads are paid for by general taxation. The Independent’s website is also awash with comment on the issue today.

The Guardian

The typically pro-cycling broadsheet is kicked off with a Helen Pidd penned piece on page 3. Perhaps the largest word count of all, Pidd goes into depth, recounting the incidents, discussing news coverage elsewhere and asking the question that after a motivational Olympics which promised to boost participation levels, could the hard work now be undone?

Chris Peck of the CTC is called upon to put the reality of cycling on the road into context, stating that "the health benefits outweigh the negatives by 20 to 1." British Cycling’s above statement is also carried.

Stats such as "per billion kilometers cycled on rural road 170 cyclists are killed" are included. Perhaps still a scary figure, but hopefully readers will realise that the odds are nowhere near as bad as often portrayed in the media.

Pidd rounds up with some optimism that the Government may be about to take the issue seriously, citing the All Part Parliamentary Cycling group’s work on the front line of British politics. The conclusion does, however, highlight that there are some rather unhelpful people in power, with shadow environment minister Tom Harris saying of Theresa Villiers’ collision with a car last year: "i trust that when she returns she will be using her ministerial car rather more often and her push bike less."

BikeBiz executive editor Carlton Reid also has a small column on page 40.

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