THINK! responds to controversy surrounding its new cycle safety campaign
The THINK! team has produced a detailed response to the controversy and debate which has ensued since the launch of its latest cycle safety campaign, which reads as follows:
The 'Things you shouldn’t get caught between' film, which forms part of the new THINK! cycle safety campaign, has generated controversy and debate since its launch on 26 September. THINK! campaigns are designed to get people talking.
The film shows a cyclist undertaking a left-turning lorry, highlighting the danger of not hanging back. It was developed after research showed that 35% of people who ride bikes thought that it wasn’t dangerous, or only a little dangerous, to position themselves in the danger zone – an area where 94% of cyclist fatalities happen (1)
The film also highlights that even if cyclists feel safe, drivers might be about to make an error that would cause serious injury or death. Given a third of collisions between cyclists and lorries occur when a HGV turns left at a junction(2) and a cyclist is caught on the inside, this is an important message to communicate.
The 'Things you shouldn’t get caught between' film is one element of a wider cycle safety campaign aimed at HGV drivers, motorists and cyclists. We are running roadside poster advertising in London and Manchester (where cyclist/HGV collisions are highest). We have partnered with the Global Cycling Network (GCN) and cycling bloggers/vloggers, who have produced films looking at the issue of cyclist-HGV collisions aimed at both communities: people who ride bikes and HGV drivers.
THINK! is about making sure all road users take responsibility for their own and others’ safety. It is not about apportioning fault or blame. So the campaign also includes advice for HGV drivers and motorists. For HGV drivers specifically we are working with Transport for London, the Freight Transport Association and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to remind HGV drivers about the steps that they need to take to avoid a collision with a cyclist. We have provided editorial content, blog posts and online digital assets for their websites and communications. For motorists there is a series of tips about what they can do to look out for cyclists.
After all, riding a bike is a safe, green, healthy and enjoyable way of travelling.
The government wants to make Britain a cycle nation - that is why we are investing £300m over the next four years. We are making progress: the number of cyclists killed on our roads has fallen to its lowest level on record. But we can never be complacent. THINK! has a responsibility to look at how we can influence behaviour to help bring casualty figures down further. Any death is a tragedy and if a death can be prevented by raising awareness of this key issue we stand by our decision to do so.
Development of THINK! activity is a long, thought-through process involving road safety and communication experts. But ultimately, our approach is led by our target audience. The premise of the cycle campaign was tested with cyclists. Overall they believed that the serious nature of the issue warranted the powerful treatment deployed in the 'Things you shouldn’t get caught between' film.
So we are glad the campaign has already garnered a lot of attention and comment. People are talking. People are listening. People are thinking.
An independent research agency will be reviewing its effects on people’s attitudes and claimed behaviour. Withdrawing the film - as some have asked - would limit the evaluation of the campaign’s impact and the insight we would gather to inform future activity. Given the ultimate measure is what happens to casualty numbers, this is too important an opportunity to miss.
We welcome the debate and invite your thoughts on the campaign.
 Department for Transport Reported Road Casualties: Fatal cyclist collisions in London between 2008 and 2014. Of the 35 accidents in which a pedal cyclist was killed and an HGV involved, 33 occurred where the first point of impact on the HGV was front left.
 Department for Transport Reported Road Casualties: In London in 2015, 32% of road accidents between a cyclist and an HGV occurred when the HGV was turning left.