Cycling UK has formally requested that the Department for Transport (DfT) withdraw their latest cycle safety ‘THINK’ campaign which advises cyclists to “Hang Back”.
The video was prepared by the Government’s road safety campaign “THINK”. The advert shows assorted examples of things you don’t want to get ‘caught between’ – such as two goats butting horns. Then it suggests that cyclists ‘avoid’ getting caught between a lorry and the curb by hanging back.
Several cycling experts, Chris Boardman included, have criticised the video. Some say at appears that the lorry overtakes the rider before turning left – though it has also been said that the cyclist undertakes the lorry. Regardless – it requires the viewer to pause and re-watch the footage multiple times to confirm either way. Not something most will do on a short commercial.
Cycling UK have criticised the campaign for victim blaming and trivialising the deaths of vulnerable road users. They also believes that the campaign does not tackle what they call the “real problem” – which is “unsafe lorries on our roads with large unnecessary blind spots”.
It’s clear something has to be done. Goods vehicles (excluding light vans) make up only 5% of traffic in Great Britain, but are on average involved in about 18% of cyclists’ road deaths per year.But Cycling UK don’t believe this video is the answer.
Prior to the campaign’s launch, Cycling UK had urged THINK to reconsider their campaign messaging, but this advice was ignored as last Monday’s (26 September) video demonstrated.
Earlier in September, Cycling UK privately wrote to the Minister responsible for cycling, Andrew Jones MP, asking for the video to be withdrawn and for his THINK team to work with cycling organisations to build a campaign which will educate rather than aggravate.
Since this letter, Cycling UK has been informed by officials responsible for the campaign that, “The level of criticism is unfortunate, however we have no plans to withdraw the video.”
Cycling UK is now calling for cyclists and supporters who find the video distasteful and victim blaming, also to call on the Minister to withdraw the “Hang Back” campaign and THINK again.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer said: “Cycling UK is urging Andrew Jones and the team behind their dreadful “Hang Back” initiative to THINK again, and to stop blaming the victims of these tragic collisions where cyclists have been killed by lorries.
He added: “THINK does not tell people to avoid the roads because of the danger drunk drivers pose to others, so why is it now trivialising the victims of lorry collisions when we know lorries are a problem and have massive blind spots? National Government’s regressive attitude is in stark contrast to the capital, which last Friday announced how it will address the disproportionate problem of lorry related cycle deaths. London Mayor Sadiq Khan isn’t blaming the victim, but driving unsafe lorries off his roads and promoting safer design. Hopefully Government will learn from London and follow suit.
“I’d urge everyone who is equally disgusted by this THINK campaign to write to the Minister asking him to withdraw this campaign, which they can do via the Cycling UK website.”
What do you think of this campaign, do you want to see it pulled?