On Monday Inside Out West Midlands broadcast their report on cycling around Birmingham which featured talking about my Birmingham Cycle Data site but also getting on my bike and checking out facilities for cyclists around the city. This road footage was inspired by my previous excursions with a Flip.
The BBC filming was an invaluable experience but for me it highlighted the difference between how you can allow a story to develop online compared with needing to have elements pre-defined when you start filming. My challenge for Inside Out was based around a FOI request and inquiry with City Council’s press office as to the amount of cycling improvements that had been made in the last few years. I then hit the road to see how the improvements had been installed.
Obviously, filming time is precious and to have a crew follow me round each improvement would have been expensive. The Inside Out package is about the state of cycling in the city, so just me peddling on my bike would be wouldn’t have answered the general question ‘Is Birmingham safe for cyclists?’. Instead this is a montage sequence with some on the spot conclusions at the end then plenty of context and ‘right to reply’ by the council.
I was pleased to see that my Belgrave Middleway coverage was used as a way to introduce but something my online footage allowed me to do was show the extent of the law breaking and to back that up with stats.
Within the confines of the TV programme you get an impression of what happened but you don’t get an in depth investigation. Furthermore, the point of Birmingham Cycle Data was to explore many cycle stories that affect Birmingham cyclists. It mainly using data visualisation to display how a question such as ‘Is Birmingham safe for cyclists’ is a complex one that can’t have a simple answer.
I’d love the opportunity to now take the council cycling improvements story to my website. Ideally I’d display them on a map to visualise the scale of what the council has installed and where. Maybe even gather footage and evidence of me and others tackling them. This in conjunction with the larger exposure of BBC 1 programme would build up a more detailed picture of cycling improvements in the city and make suggestions how they could be further improved.
For now though you’ll have to just put up with my talking ‘helmet hair’ head.