The Battle for Britain’s Roads

Streetsblog reader George Henik directs our attention to the excellent new BBC documentary "Road Rage," a British version of Contested Streets — minus the advocacy — that examines the intensifying conflict between motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians in the UK. The Beeb describes the situation as a war of succession: 

For 40 years, Britain’s motorists have been the kings of the road, claiming their title through tax discs and fuel duty. But now the balance of power is shifting. There are new pretenders to the throne. Pedestrians and cyclists want equal rights on the road, and this has sparked a war. Our roads are now a battleground.

There are 27 million cars on Britain’s roads, an increase of over 5 million in 10 years. But there are also 23 million bicycles fighting with them for road space.

The whole hour is well worth watching, but here are some highlights:

  • 4:21 – Great clips from a pro-biking TV spot sponsored by Transport for London and the Mayor’s Office.
  • 8:42 – Hilarious segment comparing a bus load of chatty kids to an SUV-driving, road rage-suppressing father taking his son to school.
  • 16:10 – A bit about cyclists who jump red lights and the bobbies who ticket them.
  • 31:15 – A look at one of London’s least pedestrian-friendly intersections, Henley’s Corner, and how one elderly man negotiates it.
  • 51:50 – Competitive cyclist Emma Davies-Jones talks about why she moved from Britain to the more bike-friendly Belgium.
  • 52:56 – Critical Mass in London.

And yes, somewhere in there are clips of the World Naked Bike Ride.

Speaking of Contested Streets, Stefan Schaefer’s doc about NYC gridlock has been picked up by the Sundance Channel. It will air sometime after April 1st, details to come.

  • Ryan

    Can we get a nice large NSFW on this post? World Naked Bike Ride was not censored:\

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Just saw the whole thing. Really good if not a bit sensational at times. They really focus mostly on bike/ped and Safe Routes to School issues surprisingly enough. Definitely has a heavy anti-car slant.

  • gecko

    great stuff! liked the music.

  • ddartley

    Weren’t zombies supposed to wipe out London in that film?

  • paulb

    Are London police always so chatty with the people they’re writing up?

  • Bill

    I feel for the guy who lost his wife and the lady who lost a daughter. That was painful to watch.

  • Hey Guys,

    I run a site called I think it would be a great outlet for all would be road ragers out there. Check it out, we are looking into expanding into the UK very soon!


  • Hey

    You might be interested in some information about the real facts behind the so-called “Safer Cycling” campaign the police are running. There’s a page (still under construction) at:


  • I love this movie! I’m trying to write as I watch because I know I’ll forget. First, Critical Mass. I think that’s a load of crap. Yes, I know they want to urge more people to bike but I mean come on. They do it here in New York and I think it hurts more than it helps. A stronger Bike Infrastructure is the key, which I think NYCDOT is doing. It ain’t the best but we’re getting there. Second, oh oh the guy on the Jeep. I love that guy, he’s great. BONKERS! Thirdly, I noticed that there’s a lot of streets that are the width of your typical NYC one-way street but are two-way! Sorry but that don’t work here in NYC, except in my neighborhood but sidestreets are usually low-volume traffic. Next, the cyclists and the red light running. I’m a motorist and a cyclist, and I’m usually with the cyclist. But this time, the cyclist is at fault if they run the red light. Especially, en masse. I damn near got hit by one in front of the Post Office on 8th Avenue. I realize that running the red light is sometimes safer but not if you’re gonna plow down the kiddies. It’s a bird, It’s a plane…it’s it’s a speed bike?


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