THINK! responds to controversy surrounding its new cycle safety campaign

12.00 | 6 October 2016 | | 9 comments

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.

Campaign links:
• THINK! on Twitter
• THINK! YouTube channel
•  THINK! website
Global Cycling Network (GCN)

[1] 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.

[2] 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.


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    Perhaps roadsafetyGB could have had both sides of the argument, rather than just publishing the DfT message uncritically? The cycling organisations are justifiably furious with this victim blaming campaign

    Richard Burton, Bristol
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    “We have partnered with the Global Cycling Network (GCN) and cycling bloggers/vloggers,…” Such a pity that you didn’t listen to any groups which actually represent cyclists, like Cycling UK, which protested about this misleading video before it was released. Quite frankly, this video is not fit for purpose, and apparently blames the cyclist for being overtaken by an HGV. Perhaps if you had done your job and prevented dangerous vehicles from being on our roads, you wouldn’t need damage limitation like this. The problem isn’t cyclists, it’s the trucks which are clearly not fit for purpose, but you blame the cyclists. Why aren’t you preventing dangerous vehicles from being on the roads instead?

    Richard Burton, Bristol
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    This film is very badly made as it is unclear what has actually happened. Did the Lorry overtake or did the cyclist undertake? With this it is seen as reinforcing bad behaviour of either party as it supports wrong assumptions.

    I contacted them after being hit in the rear door of my car by lorries who can’t see a whole car beside them. What chance does a cyclist have. Such dangers on construction and industrial sites would be banned. Building sites have people to specifically direct these dangerous vehicles.

    Neil. London
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    This response totally fails to address the concerns raised by Chris Boardman / British Cycling and many others. Very disappointing that you don’t even dare link to the criticisms let alone address them.

    Dave Warnock, Leicester
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    Hopefully the advertising standards agency will ban it then.It appears to show a lorry left hooking that should have held back causing death by dangerous driving. Happens daily to me. Such a poor misjudged campaign. You have ignored Cycling UK and British Cycling’s Chris Boardman.

    Tim Birmingham
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    I can only presume by the stat shown at the end of the article that the greatest danger is actually being close to or parallel to the left hand side of the cab and actually below the vision in the nearside mirrors. This by my estimation would in most lorry terms make the cyclists hidden and not within the view to a driver looking in the nearside external mirrors. Had the cyclist been further towards the rear of that HGV then I can only presume that the driver might have been able to see him through his nearside mirrors in that moment or period when he would be visible through his mirrors and thus knowing that he was there take action to avoid killing him.

    However where a cyclist approaches and then filters alongside the length of any HGV on its nearside, just like a motorcyclist he should be especially aware of the possibility that the driver has not seen him approaching in his rear view mirror and if approaching a nearside junction may turn left across him or into his path. It seem that its been a matter of timing. When we have new mirrors or cameras in cabs and a greater awareness by both drivers and cyclists then we may be in a situation that satisfies both parties and puts an end to this carnage.

    Bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I’ll post in greater detail later bit one image in the piece posted here (but not in the video) is the ‘danger zone’ illustration It is wrong as the picture of the fatal collision at Bank clearly shows where the cyclist was, immediately prior to impact, in front and to the left of the track as the driver steered into her road space, as is the case in around 80% of the fatal crashes, where a driver makes a full lock left turn that takes their truck into road space totally hidden by the A pillar and (ironically) the blind spot mirror cluster. That road space is visible for less than 0.5 seconds as it appears in view and any smaller vehicles are not seen at all – the bottom of the windscreen cuts off that view completely.

    Check also the type of truck in the picture. It could well be an N3G specification for off road use, which with high ground clearance leaves a generous gap under the cab through which the victim easily passes to be crushed under every 8-10 ton axle. Despite many such trucks being used on London construction sites few spend any time, or maybe never at all off a paved and flat surface.

    Dave Holladay
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    If anyone from DfT is monitoring comments, all I would add is don’t forget to promote pedestrian safety issues!

    Nadeem, Greater Manchester
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It is not necessary to withdraw the film. It is not perfect but it is good/useful. Keep it for that as the main reason, not because removing it may “limit the evaluation”.

    Pat, Wales
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