A controversial tweet from the Metro newspaper was deleted yesterday after ITV's Tour de France commentator Ned Boulting tweeted that he would no longer contribute articles to the publication. The newspaper's social media manager has admitted to BikeBiz that a mistake was made in the framing of the original tweet and said that "lessons have been learned."
Using a video that first went viral at the end of July, Metro implied that a women on a bike was at fault after she was nearly crushed by an HGV driver executing a dangerous turn on a London road. The driver had clearly overtaken the cyclist yet Metro said: "This is why you should always give larger vehicles turning room! Be aware."
The video was captured by IT worker Jack Stevens – who was waiting on his road bike at traffic lights facing the turning HGV – and it was his shout to the driver that probably saved the cyclist's life. The driver jammed on his brakes, yelling at Stevens that he was indicating, assuming that the cyclist ahead of him had been complaining he was being impeded. In fact, Stevens was shouting to warn the driver he was about to turn across the path of the cyclist he had just overtaken.
The driver then noticed the cyclist he had put into a position of danger and said "cheers" to Stevens.
Metro's framing of the incident as an awareness exercise for cyclists rather than an admonition of the HGV driver for overtaking the cyclist and putting her on the inside of his turning vehicle led to a great many complaints on Twitter. However, it took the intervention of Boulting for the mistakenly framed tweet to be removed.
"I've enjoyed writing about the Tour de France for @MetroUK over the past few years," wrote Boulting. "But I guess I won't be doing that any more. This way of framing the story is entirely symptomatic of the persistent lazy attitude in the media that endangers people who choose to cycle."
Stevens and Boulting share additional insights on this incident on the latest Spokesmen podcast.
BikeBiz approached Metro for a comment and the newspaper's social-media manager Jay Jaffa apologised for the framing of the now-deleted tweet.
"We made a mistake with the portrayal of the video," admitted Jaffa.
"It wasn't framed correctly and this was something an editorial review picked up post-publication. Unfortunately this wasn't changed/removed in a prompt manner, leading to Ned highlighting the video on Twitter. It's far from an ideal situation as we do try exceptionally hard to avoid situations such as this."
He added: "I am more than aware of the difficulties the cycling community face on the roads in London and this is a big part of the reason I've been extending my apologies to those who were upset by our coverage of the video.
"We obviously didn’t intend to victim blame but I can see how it comes across that way. Believe me when I say we want to be as fair as possible out in the digital space. Social media is tricky in that one mistake can lead to something like this but also refreshing in that it can be resolved swiftly and lessons learned for the future."
Jaffa also stressed: "My team and the Metro.co.uk editors have expressed the need to be much more vigilant with our coverage of cyclists and road safety going forward."