Regional newspaper under fire after publishing ‘anti-cycling’ poem

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A newspaper in regional Victoria has come under fire this week after publishing a poem that, at first-glance, appears to be vehemently anti-cycling, to the point of endorsing violence against riders.

The Midland Express, a weekly paper that services the Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander shires north west of Melbourne, published the poem this Tuesday November 26. Penned by Castlemaine local M. Francis Kennedy the poem warns of “More Dolts on bikes” riding on the road once the weather warms up and ponders the “bloody thrill” of hitting and killing cyclists.

CyclingTips contacted the Midland Express for comment about the poem and the circumstances surrounding its publication. The paper’s editor, Angela Crawford, said that the poem was satirical but admitted that it would have been worth providing some context about its author.

“The poem was written by a cyclist who was very nearly taken out by a bus the week before,” Crawford said via email. “It was a tongue-in-cheek dig at bus drivers. Unfortunately the satire did not translate to everyone and so we will be publishing a clarification and apology next edition [next Tuesday].

“In hindsight it would have been wise to preface the poem with ‘The following comes to us from a frustrated cyclist etc.’, but we did not anticipate that it would be read as anything other than satire, foolishly.

“The backlash has been swift, vicious and unrelenting. It has included threats.”

The poem’s publication comes as the local cycling community is still coming to terms with the deaths of two riders from the surrounding region. Pro cyclist Jason Lowndes was hit and killed near Bendigo in late 2017 — the driver responsible was sentenced last week to 200 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine. Another cyclist, Michael Grinter, was hit and killed in Ravenswood South late last year. The driver in that incident was this week jailed for three years.

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