THINK! – the Department for Transport’s road safety website – has been heavily criticised for their new ad campaign which advises cyclists to ‘hang back’.
The ad shows a selection of hard things that you probably don’t want ‘to get stuck between’ – such as wrecking balls and swinging grinders. It then shows a lorry overtaking a cyclist, before swinging across their path. The message on the screen then reads: “Don’t get caught between a lorry and a left turn. Hang back.”
A third of collisions between cyclists and lorries happen at left turns: it’s clear something needs to be done. However since article 167 of the Highway Code reads ‘do not overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example approaching or at a road junction’ – it could be suggested that it is the lorry driver in the wrong here.
Cycling UK – the National independent expert in all things cycling – have slammed the campaign and suggested that THINK! “pull the campaign and start again.”
Senior Road Safety Officer Duncan Dollimore commented: “The clip… demonstrates a lorry left turn, at speed, with a driver failing to make continuous checks in his mirrors. If the message is THINK, what were the DfT thinking?”
In a press release he explained “there are a number of problems with that message” – listing the fact that many cyclists don’t choose dangerous positions (but are placed in them by dangerous driving), that the campaign blames victims, and ignores the improvements that could be made by safer lorries or segregating cyclists and lorries.
He added: “The DfT might be best served to acknowledge that this one has not worked, pull the campaign and start again.”
Chris Boardman, a former Olympic cyclist and campaigner whose mother was killed in a cycling accident recently, commented on the video on Twitter. He called the ad: “[a] desperately misguided campaign that a) tries to make death fun b) [implies] vulnerable road user responsible for vehicle not fit for road.”
He later pointed out that perhaps the focus should have been on safer lorries, not hanging back.
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) September 26, 2016
Caroline Russell, the Green Party’s transport spokesperson told the Independent the campaign was ‘victim blaming’, saying: “The Government quite clearly shows they have not got the first idea about how to reduce danger for people cycling.”
She added: “Their film shows an HGV lorry overtake riskily at a junction and turn left in a classic left-hook crash. Yet their message is a victim blaming call for the cyclist to stay back… The message should have been directed at the lorry drivers to ask them to stay back from people cycling to avoid them being exposed to the risk of causing a crushing collision.”
Want to see the actual video? Here it is…