Guardian readers’ ‘thoughtless and aggressive’ comments on biking

Published: 09 July 2010

The author of a Guardian opinion column about speeding motorcyclists has said it prompted ‘thoughtless and aggressive’ responses from the newspaper’s readers.

Motorcyclists are referred to in posts on the paper’s website as ‘organ donors’, ‘annoying’ and ‘desperate and stupid’. One alludes to countering anti-social riding with the use of ‘piano wire’.   

The comments are in response to a column by Ed Douglas in which he calls speeding motorcyclists ‘immoral’ and describes a fatal car crash caused by a rider.

One reader says: ‘Given the average age of riders and the fatality rate it is only a matter of time before this problem sorts itself out.’

Some posts have been removed by moderators.  

In an email exchange with an MCN reader, Douglas said: ‘I can understand your frustration, particularly about thoughtless and aggressive comments following the piece I wrote.’

David Harper had asked Douglas: ‘Can you honestly tell me that you were entirely comfortable with the comments your article provoked? Personally, I was appalled by the tirade of nasty, mean-spirited and spiteful remarks that appeared below your piece. And if that’s what was deemed suitable to leave in place then I don’t even want to think about what was removed by the moderators.’

Douglas told MCN: “I do regret some of those [readers’] comments.”

He said: “This was a column about a very specific problem and that is people, usually young men, using Peak District roads as racetracks at weekends. I know most motorcyclists are responsible and well trained because you have to be, because it’s more dangerous than driving a car.”

Harper told Douglas in his email: ‘I could offer many counter examples of accidents and deaths caused by poor training and stupid, careless, inattentive or irresponsible driving in cars. But I don’t think you’re really interested in considering the more complex issues around road safety in this country are you?

‘You get to describe the actions of one irresponsible motorcyclist in a Guardian article. It’ll have been read by thousands of people by now, the majority all nodding along sagely about just how right you are. Prejudices will have been reinforced.  And sooner or later we’ll see motorcycling, one of the great joys of my life, legislated out of existence.’ 

Read the full fascinating exchange between Douglas and Harper here:
And Douglas’ column here: