Our Response to Rod Liddle's Article in The Sunday Times

I'm sure many of you can join us in being completely flummoxed at the lack of care and responsibility from The Sunday Times this weekend. An article written by Rod Liddle on Sunday 24th May outlined his disdain at cyclists by narrow-mindedly criticising and stereotyping the community whilst expressing his temptation to tie piano wire across the road at neck height in order to debilitate cyclists passing his house.

Booby traps like this are something many cyclists unknowingly face and have caused serious injuries to many. Just this weekend a man from Wales had to take a trip to A&E because of one similar!

In support of Cyclist UK's complaint to The Sunday Times, we thought we'd act on it and do the same defending our passionate community. Here's what we wrote:

Complaint submission regarding ‘The BBC is doing its job again. All it took was thousands of deaths and a useless cabinet’ by Rod Liddle, published in The Sunday Times on Sunday 24th May 2020 at 12.01am.

I write to you as Co Founder of Fat Lad At The Back. A cyclewear brand who encourage and support cyclists to take to the road for the first time or encourage people to re-engage with cycling for a multitude of health reasons. We wish to lodge a formal complaint regarding the article written by Rod Liddle and published in The Sunday Times on Sunday 24th May 2020. The article in question refers to his temptation of tying piano wire across the road at neck height; a criminal act that has been depicted fairly frivolously by Liddle.

In support of Cycling UK's complaint, we think the publication of Liddle's article in such a widely read publication such as The Sunday Times is highly irresponsible anytime, but especially considering the timing. Not only being the weekend in which a male in Wales has been injured due to such a booby trap, but also in the incredibly hard times we are currently experiencing. Whereby, the discourse we are all exposed to is that of looking out for one another, keeping ourselves and others safe and most importantly being kind in our actions. Something I would counsel is not demonstrated in the publishing of such commentary.
Fat Lad At The Back are a brand that stands proudly in the aperture of inclusive cyclewear and we have built a large community of people, many of whom suffering with their mental and physical health and who continuously battle with the stigma associated with their illnesses. These people use cycling as a way to combat these hardships and we have first-hand experience, through our community, with how cycling aids people in overcoming some traumatic and troubling times in their lives.

While we understand that the words written by Liddle are not in defiance of the Editor's Code, we urge you to see that not only does Liddle commend a criminal act, but his criticism and narrow judgements of the cycling community is a problem. Articles like this, that use inflammatory language, feed the hate and have the capacity to make readers feel justified in their hostility towards cyclists. From a wider perspective, not only could this result in people becoming less sympathetic to fellow road users and putting each other at risk, it also has the capacity to divide society even more. Something that we should all be desperate to put to an end.

In the last few months, when the world has been in complete disarray, we have seen an unprecedented rise in people taking to fitness as a coping mechanism and with that hundreds of people are taking to their bikes. We want to break down the barriers to cycling and to promote the incredible benefits, not just for the individual, but for the collective. However, criticism like this adds yet another hurdle for those who are already vulnerable to do what they can to help themselves.

In a society where 60% of people are overweight or obese and 1 in 4 people will suffer from some type of mental health issue in their lifetime, allowing for constant barriers such as this to healthy activities, is ultimately contributing to these terrifying statistics. There is constant demonstration and not just from our community, that cycling is a way to combat this and with that we support Cycling UK's statements, in that the words you decide to publish have gravity with your readers. We urge you to see there is a level of social responsibility to be taken by your columnists with these matters, whether their role be commentary or not.
In the current societal landscape with the media being ridiculed for the contribution to the spiralling mental health of those in the spotlight, I would like to conclude by asking you if The Sunday Times want to be part of this rhetoric, that in essence is severely harming individuals?

When will The Sunday Times be issuing an apology for this piece?

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