Burn Him


I don’t have kids, but I appreciate that people who do are fond of them. I’m fond of them too, provided they aren’t screaming into my ear and haven’t yet picked up any bad habits from their parents. So let me say this straight off: my recent satire concerning the hit-and-run which left Lucie Wilding bruised and battered was in no way meant to excuse the behavior of the cyclist. It pains me to have to preface this post by parading sympathy for the victim which should go without saying, but these are the times in which we live.

Now then, on to the contretemps. (What contretemps, you ask? A trifling matter really, but it livened up my Saturday morning and raised the blood pressure of a fair few readers of road.cc. More on this under the fold.)

The Daily Mail has identified what it claims is the most callous cyclist in Britain, who was filmed showing little more regard for a child than you would to a traffic cone. However, a frame-by-frame analysis of the video shows that the “hit and run villain” was actually forced into the path of wee Lucie Wilding to avoid being run down by another cyclist, moving too fast to be positively identified but thought to be Sir Bradley Wiggins.


The outrage spread across the media and to the normally placid BBC:


Wiggins, known to be practicing for his hour record attempt, has yet to answer police inquiries about his whereabouts at the time of the incident. The cyclist caught in the net of worldwide condemnation was reluctant to implicate him, however:


The sideburned CBE has also recently been in the news promoting helmets, and indeed, experts have suggested that the child’s injuries may have been mitigated had she been wearing one.
. . .


The story had all the ingredients for silly season clickbait. It proved irresistible to other news outlets, readers, me. I thought it was clear by virtue of the absurdity of my imagined scenario I meant no harm to the poor girl and minimal damage to Sir Bradley, who was hauled in partly due to his recent pronouncement on the desirability of compulsion for helmets and partly for no reason at all other than the image of him careening down the pavement just popped into my head.

It didn’t take long for the flak to hit.


More are reproduced below in this blog’s comments section, which in the absence of comments to Lost in Translation I’m using as a space for footnotes.

To top it off I was experiencing intensely frustrating internet connection difficulties.

I had honestly thought this would fly under the radar rather than over heads. Therefore I more or less posted and ran: I had a medical appointment to get to. By the time I was getting ready to hightail it to the hospital there was blood in the water.


My connection was so bad by now that I actually ran to a neighbour’s house to post a hurried reply attempting to absolve road.cc of responsibility and gently point out that none of my targets was a poor defenseless girl – who wasn’t meant to be friendly fire, either. After that I disappeared into a displeasing unconnected-even-to-wifi state.

The editor soon made an executive decision to spike it. I don’t blame him: he’s got advertisers and subscribers with pitchforks to deal with.


Me, I’m just glad I got out alive. Fortunately I’ve developed a thick enough skin that I was more excited than frightened. There was even fear voiced by some (including the ed) that the Mail and Wiggins might sit up and take notice! I felt like my bloodstream had been spiked with whatever Lance was on when I contemplated that, preposterous as the prospect seemed to me, but alas it was not to be.

There are several obvious lessons to be learned from this episode, the first of which is Think of the Children. No, not the little ones: the big ones who should be able to recognise a rebuttal to a 10 minute hate when they see one without needing a time out. Also, people’s sympathy for innocent toddlers tends to outweigh their hunger for satire. I’m sure my wife, who bore witness the above proceedings, has other lessons she’d like to add… but let’s leave it at that. And this:


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7 Responses to Burn Him

  1. sam says:


    “I appear to have missed the point… Please explain this article?” –iUpham

    “Awful article” –gbzpto

    “What kind of irresponsible crap is this? Poor kid has been run down walking out of her own front path by a twat riding on the pavement and someone (RoadCC?) thinks that’s worthy of derision? Astonishing.” –Eebijeebi

    “…This article seems a bit puerile rather than addressing any of the double standards that are often employed against cyclists.” –hawkinspeter

    “Had to make an account to comment about how stupid this article is. ‘if it bleeds it leads’, please. Truly awful, just total dog doo. Waste of time having this sort of thing on road.cc. It’s not controversial, its derivative, pointless and above all, a really stupid article. Those low quality pictures too, dire sh#t. Seriously- try much, much harder.” –joe-irish

    “What the fuck is this? Seriously, did anyone actually read this before publishing? It’s pathetic.” –Meaulnes

    “+1 against. Best to take it down before a Daily Mail journalist finds it maybe? We don’t need to be giving the haters any justification” –Brooess

    “expected better from road.cc. Poor taste” –johnrh

    “Still better than Louis CK’s last standup.” –bikeboy76 [note to self: fact check]

    FAIL –Glasgowcyclist [a fan of constructive criticism after all?]

    “A three year old girl injured by a cyclist on the footway who buggers off. Superimpose a cyclist on the photo.?Infer that Wiggins is to blame.?Publish it on the internet.
    That’ll advance the cycling cause no end.”

    “Delete your sensationalism. You don’t need to add anything to the article. Your piece of journalism isn’t well researched or presented. It simply shouldn’t be on road.cc” –joe-irish

    “…Please don’t blame road.cc, they only gave me blog space, which in the past I have used on generally less controversial topics such as helmets and earphones… To paraphrase Lance: it’s not really about the poor girl…” –me

  2. sam says:

    I’ve now lost a Twitter follower due to this affair. Will a further exodus ensue? I hesitated before returning the favour, genuinely sorry to see her go but feeling it would be what she wanted.

    When in receipt of criticism I can’t help but consider the source. Critic A is a clothing salesman who probably thinks in terms of customers; he wouldn’t be my first candidate to champion views far out of the mainstream, never mind absurdist fiction geared to truly freewheeling cyclists.

    Critic B frequently reviews things of interest to mothers and children (and liked my reply to one of her reviews enough that she started following me in the first place). Without wishing to pigeonhole her, I think it’s safe to say she’d regard anything smacking of unchildfriendliness as out of bounds.

    Naturally, if either of those people had loved the piece, they would’ve been splendid outliers.


  3. sam says:

    One more for the road.

    You’d never guess I prefer the quiet life.

  4. sam says:

    Yes Virginia, there really are (at least) two sides to every story.
    What Andrew Holland needs is a cycling course, community service running errands for injured toddlers, and perhaps relocation and a new identity should this somewhat less thuggish profile of him not calm passions to a dull furore.

    Holland still at large

    I note that Sir Bradley continues to escape censure.

  5. sam says:

    Apropos satire, I came across this yesterday while researching Chappaquiddick for an upcoming post:

    hope floats

    That’s right folks: a fake ad in a national publication making fun of an incident in which a woman suffered a horrible death (one expert claims she survived for 3 or 4 hours before suffocating in her air bubble). My point being, humour knows no bounds.

    I will, however, forbear from taking the mickey out of the victim’s mother for not looking out of place in a Sad Faces of wronged Mail readers competition. Who knows how any of us would look in that mirror.

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