After my recent post on media coverage of bikes, I was somewhat surprised to see Media Watch on ABC TV this week covering this very topic. The item was in response to a Telegraph headline and article last week quoting statistics stating that the new Sydney bike lanes had resulted in a reduction in riding in Sydney and that they were a waste of tax payers money, took up valuable space and should be removed. This had prompted notorious radio shock jocks into calling for the same and had also started a twitter storm on the topic.
While I had noticed in passing the Telegraph piece, I had not paid it much attention and was surprised at its quoting of statistics which seemed in direct opposition to everything else I had read on the topic of bike usage in Sydney. So it was good to see Media Watch clear that one up for me: the figures used by the Telegraph were for the greater Sydney area, extending to north of Newcastle, south of Wollongong and west of the Blue Mountains. The use of bicycles in inner Sydney where the bike lanes are had in fact grown, a lot. I was also pleased to see that Media Watch called the Telegraph’s item a part of a “campaign”, as it was followed up by several other damning stories, all designed to incite its readers by its misuse of the facts. Thankfully, the Telegraph has been reported to the Press Council for this.