NBC's Report on Road Rage Toward Cyclists — With 50% Fewer Clichés

Recently NBC News ran this report on cyclists using bike- or helmet-mounted cameras, such as GoPro to document motorists bad behavior and/or aggression towards cyclists.

And it’s… not bad — for a television news piece on cyclists and motorists.

It doesn’t blame the victims — the cyclists. It doesn’t paint all cyclists with a broad brush. And, most gratefully, it doesn’t use that damn Queen song that, 34 years later, media outlets seem to still think is clever to use in their pieces on cycling.


Yes, it could have been better.

“Nationwide, bicycling has never been more popular.” And that’s true. And it’s never been safer either, but the reporter, Tom Costello, didn’t mention that.

(Well, perhaps it was safer during that interlude before the automobile was invented and subsequently took over our roads, energy and transportation policies.)

NBCNews.com video: Hey, angry driver: Smile for the bike cam
NBCNews.com video: Hey, angry driver: Smile for the bike camera

Costello provides a blend of statistics and scary absolute numbers that shed little light on the benefits of cycling — a net benefit that outweighs the ever-diminishing risks of cycling. But he clearly states that there is bad behavior on the sides of motorists and cyclists, and that much of it is perception.

With so many drivers and cyclists sharing the road, there is a perception that no one is actually obeying the rules. Cyclists unwilling to stop at stop signs. With motorists often speeding or unwilling to give cyclists the room they need.

There’s also a very brief interview with Bob Mionske underscoring the rights of cyclists.

Hey, angry driver: Smile for the bike cam - Video on NBCNews.com
Compared to 33,000 killed in motor vehicle crashes. Let’s see… 618 divided by… Sorry. No time for the math. There’s a RAM truck commercial coming up.

I mean, it is TV news. I have low expectations. Should I?

I’ll admit that I don’t get much of my news from TV — and what I often see is bad examples of TV news via Web videos.

Set me straight, readers. Is this better than typical coverage of bike commuting on the news?

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8 thoughts on “NBC's Report on Road Rage Toward Cyclists — With 50% Fewer Clichés”

  1. I just asked Tom Costello (the journalist) via Twitter if he rides. He’s done a couple of bike stories that have made it to NBC news.

    I think it’s good for MSM to note that growing use of video cameras by cyclists.

  2. Diane Lees says:

    From a purely objective (really?) perspective, it’s COVERAGE! Bicycling is finally getting some air play and eventually, it won’t all be bad – like this piece. It’s still better than being ignored.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention Ted.

  3. I think a news item which portrays a balanced view will help, since it will be seen by such a broad audience. Part of me thinks that it would also help if the story showed more of the divisions among cyclists, too, in terms of the theory and practice of riding, so that we all don’t get painted with the same brush of non-stopping scofflaws, though. And evidence captured by cameras cuts both ways.

  4. Kwin says:

    I think the most useful information in this story is the notation that bicycle commuting is growing so dramatically. Personally, I’ve never had a run in with a motorist and stories like these make me wonder what I’m doing wrong!

  5. listenermark says:

    …I’ll admit that I don’t get much of my news from TV — and what I often see is bad examples of TV news via Web videos…

    I suspect that’s a common sentiment among many of the bike nerds who read this blog. Other than elderly family members, I don’t know anyone who watches broadcast network news.

    Thanks for sharing the video.

  6. Jim says:

    You’re asking for too much. It sends the message: behave.

    Nothing like the threat of criminal prosecution to get through to cowards.

  7. Jim says:

    Oh yeah I’ve had a lot of run-ins with people in cars, a 14 year old was hit and killed today locally and my wife commutes via bike 8 miles each way, yet I don’t consider cycling to be “safe”, whatever that means.

  8. Miguel@GJEL says:

    Great to see balanced coverage of the increased use of bicycles for commuting purposes. I believe that with more media exposure, riding will become “mainstream” or “normal.”

    Hopefully biking will enter the collective consciousness, and awareness and caution around cyclists will become the new normal.

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