Cyclists’ organisations unite against ‘stay back’ stickers

"A sticking plaster solution" to cycling safety, say groups including CTC & London Cycling Campaign

by John Stevenson   February 20, 2014  

Cyclists stay back sticker (CC licensed image by happy days photos and art:Flickr)

 

Cycling and road safety organisations have called on Transport for London to remove ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers from its vehicles and to tell operators such as Hackney cab owners not to attach them.

The demand comes in a joint statement from the Road Danger Reduction Forum, CTC, London Cycling Campaign, RoadPeace and the Association of Bikeability Schemes.

The stickers have angered many cyclists who see them as putting responsibility for cycling safety on the victims and potential victims of driver carelessness, and as implying that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicles.

Those two points make up the first of the organisations’ comments about the ‘stay back stickers’, which in full are:

  1. The ‘cyclists stay back’ wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users.
    It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202.
    Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.
  2. It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.
  3. Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles’ blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.
  4. Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics. A suitable graphic [below] is attached.

The organisations have therefore called for the stickers to be removed from all vehicles except high-cab lorries by the end of March, and for more appropriate stickers to be designed for use on London buses and to replace the stickers currently on high-cab lorries.

Perhaps more importantly, the five bodies have taken the opportunity to reiterate what they see as a far better long-term solution to the problem of cyclist deaths and serious injuries in London caused by HGVs. Calling stickers, “literally, a sticking-plaster solution”, the five groups have called for TfL to promote the use of lorries that do not have blind spots around the cab, to engineer the highway to reduce potential conflict, and to ensure drivers are trained to check their mirrors properly when turning or changing lane.

The demands in full are:

  1. FORS [Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme] to instruct their members to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all vehicles except high-cab heavy goods vehicles, by the end of March.
  2. London Buses to instruct operators to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all buses, until such time as a more appropriate design and wording is agreed with cycling organisations, by the end of March.
  3. TfL to inform all other vehicle operators, such as Hackney carriages (London Taxi Drivers Association etc.) that TfL do not want such stickers to be used on their vehicles, by the end of March.
  4. TfL to develop and produce a more appropriate sticker for heavy goods vehicles, similar to the one attached to this statement, and agree the design and wording with cycling organisations, by the end of May.
  5. TfL to supply the new sticker to freight operators, with instructions only to use it on high-cab lorries. This should be in widespread use by the end of August, with no ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers remaining after this date.
  6. TfL to invest in designing and promoting use of lorries that do not have blind spots around the cab. Stickers are, literally, a sticking-plaster solution. The long-term solution includes designing out the source of the danger by engineering lorries to reduce or eliminate the possibility of cyclists and pedestrians being crushed in collisions with them, engineering the highway to reduce potential conflict, eliminating lorry driver “blind spots”, and by training drivers to check their mirrors properly when turning or changing lane.

90 user comments

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
AyBee wrote:

Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist

No it shouldn't.


Yes it should, we are all responsible for our own well being first. Don't just expect everyone else to look out for you because you want to rush up the inside or outside of motorised vehicles. Yet again it's everyone else's fault and never the cyclist who may have put themselves in danger in the first place.

As for the sticker, yet more fuss over bugger all.

posted by Shep73 [137 posts]
20th February 2014 - 19:54

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No it shouldn't.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
20th February 2014 - 20:14

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Flying Scot wrote:
Look, we have a few LWB vans and have been advised this is mandatory, and once its clear I will be applying them otherwise we will be in all sorts of insurance bother in the event of an accident.

So it's not a case of I'm applying stickers coz I can't be arsed, it's another stupid box ticking excercise from the nanny state.

Mandated by whom, backed by what law and/or case?

Sounds like your insurance company (I'm guessing) is trying to CYA with whatever they can think of.

posted by jacknorell [242 posts]
20th February 2014 - 20:41

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Shep73 wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
AyBee wrote:

Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist

No it shouldn't.


Yes it should, we are all responsible for our own well being first. Don't just expect everyone else to look out for you because you want to rush up the inside or outside of motorised vehicles. Yet again it's everyone else's fault and never the cyclist who may have put themselves in danger in the first place.

This. Absolutely this.

posted by TheSpaniard [39 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:24

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Try making a vehicle Crossrail compliant. Fire extinguishers, spill-kits, spare bulbs, white-noise reversing alarms [Must be able to be disabled in residential areas at night], beacons and more bloody useless stickers and signs than you can shake a stick at. And then you have to send the driver on a one day course. At Wits End

Luckily this is my employers problem not mine!

posted by levermonkey [308 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:45

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Ush wrote:

It's a mistake to assume that all women are like that either... my wife for one wouldn't have much time for the idea that she's incapable of riding assertively and has to wait for the non-existent infrastructure.... Speaking of that infrastructure, if it were possible to convince society to change its expenditures and laws so radically that we could get a dutch infrastructure elsewhere, then it ought to be possible to make other changes, such as accepting that a bicycle's rightful place is being driven safely and courteously without harrasment or fear in primary position in a lane.

Hey, I certainly didn't suggest that all women are like that. Wouldn't dream of saying that. Merely that its a statistical correlation of a sort, for whatever reason (probably social).

Yeah, I misread you or extrapolated wildly from what you said... sorry. Re-reading it's clear you didn't say that.

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

I personally think the first change is more possible than the latter, though I grant you both do seem a very long way off.

I really believe there's a fundamentally different attitude at the base of the change that allowed that infrastructure to get built. Here, if you tell people that they're participating in a system of Child Murder you'll be told that you're hysterical and "anti-car". That fundamental attitude was the start of the dutch infrastructure revolution.

I really can't see why sharing the road with other vehicles wouldn't work if the other vehicle drivers would just cop the fuck on.

posted by Ush [377 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:49

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TheSpaniard wrote:
Shep73 wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
AyBee wrote:

Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist

No it shouldn't.


Yes it should, we are all responsible for our own well being first. Don't just expect everyone else to look out for you because you want to rush up the inside or outside of motorised vehicles. Yet again it's everyone else's fault and never the cyclist who may have put themselves in danger in the first place.

This. Absolutely this.

Nope, absolutely not this.

In a society those with the most power have the most responsibility.

Who said anything about 'rushing up the inside of motorised vehicles'? That wasn't what was said, so why bring that in? What was said was the blanket statement that 'cycling safety lies first and foremost with the cyclist'. It doesn't, because the cyclist isn't the one with the power to create the danger.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
20th February 2014 - 22:58

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levermonkey wrote:
Try making a vehicle Crossrail compliant. Fire extinguishers, spill-kits, spare bulbs, white-noise reversing alarms [Must be able to be disabled in residential areas at night], beacons and more bloody useless stickers and signs than you can shake a stick at. And then you have to send the driver on a one day course. At Wits End

Luckily this is my employers problem not mine!

Exactly, the bigger the scheme the more useless tat that's required.

Don't forget the 400 page COSHH manual and sundry non conformance pads.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [438 posts]
20th February 2014 - 23:09

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Shep73 wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
AyBee wrote:

Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist

No it shouldn't.


Yes it should, we are all responsible for our own well being first. Don't just expect everyone else to look out for you because you want to rush up the inside or outside of motorised vehicles. Yet again it's everyone else's fault and never the cyclist who may have put themselves in danger in the first place.

As for the sticker, yet more fuss over bugger all.

Nope. We live in a society, with laws and moral rules. Therefore one has the right to expect others to take basic care with our safety. If not, then we are in a state of nature and we can forget all pretence of following laws or moral codes. One or the other - which is it then?

The problem of course is you refer to 'cycling safety', which is a bit of a slight-of-hand, as the issue is really 'motoring safety' as that is where the risk comes from.

The safety of cyclists depends largely on the behaviour of motorists, so its just daft to insist the responsibility lies 'first and foremost' with the one who has the least control over it.

With power comes responsibility. Putting the responsibility on the potential victim at all times is a convenient ruse for the powerful, it seems to me. Not something that only comes up in cycling by any means.

And as for 'rush up the inside or outside' - well the latter is usually called 'overtaking' and motorists do it regularly. And the comment of yours I responded to said nothing about 'rushing up the inside' so I don't see why you switch the subject like that. Indeed the problem, I'm now thinking, with the sign being discussed is that it doesn't really mention passing on the inside, it just comes off like a general 'cyclists stay the hell away from me'. 'Cyclists, don't pass on the left' would be fair enough, and I'm sure I've seen vehicles with variations on that very wording.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
20th February 2014 - 23:15

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giff77 wrote:
Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
Looking at these a completely different way.

Are these stickers the new "Baby/Princess/Tw*t on board"? I.e. dickhead warning, in which case bring them on. At least we have half a chance of backing off and away from dangerous driving. Can not really complain as I have a "Bloody Cyclist" jersey. Wonder if I can get away with "Fing Back Off !" on a jersey

On a slightly different topic, way do some cyclist feel the need to move up traffic queues in places were there isn't a cycle lane? We are all road users and abide by the highway code aren't we?

Don't need a sticker to let me know this. My perception of all motorists is that they're d***heads until they give me room or do not tailgate me. I now when negotiating a narrow section or traffic calming measure pull out to 4 drop my right hand and point to my rear wheel and wag my figure if a vehicle is behind. Once clear I drop back to 1and wave the driver behind through. I've found that in most cases I'm then given plenty of room apart from the occasional Beemer/Audi who are incensed that I've delayed them by approximately 2 seconds. It seems to me that I've made the driver aware that I'm aware of their presence and is my own version of Back Off

Those tailgating twits in Audis and BMWs are the same sort of morons as the one in the Mercedes tailgating me on my way back from my brother's today. I was driving a car for once and as it was raining, dark and the visibility wasn't great, I was driving at slightly less than the posted speed limit of 60 and maintaining a safe distance from the big truck in front. But the Mercedes driver wanted to get past and as soon as he could overtake, did so and then cutting in quickly to avoid an oncoming car. He then trailed along in front of me and behind the truck, which he was unable to overtake until the road became a dual carriageway.

The point I'm making is that some people are so impatient as to not understand that a momentary delay means nothing in the scheme of things.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
21st February 2014 - 0:15

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Indeed the problem, I'm now thinking, with the sign being discussed is that it doesn't really mention passing on the inside, it just comes off like a general 'cyclists stay the hell away from me'. 'Cyclists, don't pass on the left' would be fair enough, and I'm sure I've seen vehicles with variations on that very wording.

Except that's exactly where the road tells cyclists they should be. Those in charge of the roads need to stop painting cycle lanes and then telling cyclists not to use them.

Build proper cycle infrastructure and the whole problem goes away immediately.

posted by teaboy [147 posts]
21st February 2014 - 0:20

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Re black cabs:
I've never seen one of these on a cab.
You're already forbidden unapproved stickers on cabs.
THE LTDA is a drivers' union, not a vehicle operator. There aren't "vehicle operators" in London.
Re stickers: Bored already.

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posted by Sven Ellis [31 posts]
21st February 2014 - 3:50

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teaboy wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Indeed the problem, I'm now thinking, with the sign being discussed is that it doesn't really mention passing on the inside, it just comes off like a general 'cyclists stay the hell away from me'. 'Cyclists, don't pass on the left' would be fair enough, and I'm sure I've seen vehicles with variations on that very wording.

Except that's exactly where the road tells cyclists they should be. Those in charge of the roads need to stop painting cycle lanes and then telling cyclists not to use them.

Build proper cycle infrastructure and the whole problem goes away immediately.

True, some of those road markings seem like traps. I learned the hard way to ignore the cycle lanes that tell you to go right across the mouth of side-roads, when I got the incomplete-overtake-sideswipe treatment as a result of obeying one such.

But still, it seems fair enough for those vehicles where the driver genuinely can't see you there to have a reminder not to go up the left. If only to counteract those misleading road markings. If it spreads to smaller vehicles where the driver ought to be able to use their eyes then it just becomes pre-emptive victim-blaming. (I guess with HGVs you also need to be very wary about going up the right as well.)

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
21st February 2014 - 11:19

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:

On a slightly different topic, way do some cyclist feel the need to move up traffic queues in places were there isn't a cycle lane? We are all road users and abide by the highway code aren't we?

I'm not clear what your point is here. Can you link to the part of the highway code that proscribes filtering by cyclists (or motorcyclists)? Thanks.

Because for me part of the point of cycling is to be able to circumvent the massive congestion caused by motorists unnecessarily using those ludicrously unnecessarily large vehicles (which have been getting steadily larger on average over recent decades, incidentally). Granted, sometimes it just can't be done with any safety (or even at all) and its better to dismount and just walk along the pavement to get past.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
21st February 2014 - 11:20

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Does anyone make a "Motorists Stay Back" jersey? If not, why not.

posted by amawby [54 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:25

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AyBee wrote:
Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist - do everything you can to keep yourself out of danger. If it's safe to do so, ignore the sign, it really is that simple. If you're going to get angered by this, you should probably adjust your perspective on life!

I think you are missing the point. by allowing such a sticker and the way the language is used, the driver can deny all responsibilities even if the driver was completely neglegent or was dangerous.

posted by ricky1980 [21 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:26

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I've been in Tel Aviv Israel for the past 6 weeks...now here is a place that would scare the bejeebers out of any cyclist...that's not from here
...cyclists from here just get on with it...cycling down 1 way streets contra to traffic, use no lights, cycle on/off footpaths, whatever they fancy when they fancy
..drivers do the same...if there is 2mm in front of you, they will take it...there appears to be zero rules, except blast your horn, flash your lights and be as rude as is humanly possible....but get them off the roads and it's handshakes all day, hugs all round, hearty laughs and a finer more welcoming body of people you'll never meet...
Just stay away from the roads as much as possible...you even see 'serious roadies'...cycling along the hard shoulders of highway/motorways....and I've seen at least a half dozen serious wrecks and their aftermaths, alongside minor shunts..what can you expect when they have 70kph speed limits on main streets...and that appears to be a minimum speed limit for 99% of the car driving populace..
That's why I'll wait the two weeks until I am back in Ireland before getting back on two wheels....

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [375 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:30

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
AyBee wrote:

Absolute b*llocks! Cycling safety should lie first and foremost with the cyclist

No it shouldn't.

yes, it should but what would you propose AyBee.

By the interpretation of the sticker...if you stay behind a motorised vehicle you would be safe.

Ok, lets see..i go out on my bike, in helmets and arm guards etc...on my two wheeled scaffold frame....following a car in gentle flow of traffic.

Now traffic picks up speed the car behind me is getting impatient...the road is only 1 lane, nothing I can do...how does stay behind the car makes me safe...what can i do to make the situation safe stop short of getting off my bike and hopping on to a bus or train?

now also consider this, i am following a car...vision of the road ahead is impaired...therefore I cannot foresee what is infront of the car ahead. I maintain a good travelling distance. For whatever reason, the car brakes suddenly. I cannot slow down fast enough. now again I have made all the necessary precautions and taken steps to make the situation as safe as possible. but yet, i will be seriously injured in this situation.

I think Aybee you need to realise cyclists are vulnerable road users, therefore more responsibilities lies on those in cars/vans/trucks. To a more interesting extent, I think cyclists are more vulnerable than pedestrians, I have seen a number of accidents where a pedestrain crosses the road blind and t-bones a cyclist. the pedestrian just get knocked back or falls forward and land on the cyclist. where the cyclist often flies off the bike or at least falls heavily with all sorts of cuts and bruises.

posted by ricky1980 [21 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:38

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amawby wrote:
Does anyone make a "Motorists Stay Back" jersey? If not, why not.

I wouldn't wear one. For the same reason I get annoyed if I see them on vehicles. They are almost more of a wind up than a warning. Just like I am pissed off seing them on the back of vans. I don't see how winding up motorists contributes to my safety.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [496 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:43

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Are the stickers thay much different from horse-ists wearing 'pass wide and slow' on their tops?

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:56

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Allez Neg... The stickers are different in that one is on the vulnerable road user, one is not.

posted by edster99 [145 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:05

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ricky1980 wrote:
AyBee wrote:

I think you are missing the point. by allowing such a sticker and the way the language is used, the driver can deny all responsibilities even if the driver was completely neglegent or was dangerous.

Though I don't agree with ricky 1980 this is not true. You cannot just write disclaimers on your vehicle and claim you aren't liable. Your liability is decided by statute law not by you.

If it helps this also goes for any other walk of life where you see disclaimers. You know that bit that follows them on many product disclaimers "this does not affect your statutory rights". Well of course it doesn't.

Even dangerous sports. You know those disclaimers that say you are doint it at your own risk. Well they can wave one of those all the way court. You might have signed it in blood. It won't matter if they are negligent in any way. They can write what they like on their vehicles, but Parliament makes the law, not EZ Signs Ltd or the odd van driver.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [496 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:12

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Cyclists know your place

posted by kcr [57 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:37

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"Blood is a bugger to clean off rubber."

posted by Cauld Lubter [117 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:41

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I assume there is also a "Pedestrians get out of the way" one for the front?

Binky

posted by davebinks [123 posts]
21st February 2014 - 20:51

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Hang on! Where's my sticker for when im riding my bike? 'Incompetent driver keep back' I keep a fair distance back from motorists as you never now what they will do next! Still I think the stickers they are using are not written appropriately they should read 'incompetent driver behind the wheel for your own safety stay well clear' now that makes more sense. ...

Live to Ride, 'cycling a real sport'

posted by shaun finnis [24 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 8:50

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Saw such a sticker on a tiny Datsun pickup recently. Basically no longer or wider than an estate car. Some motorists find the signs appealing as it gives them the feeling they are asserting authority. I'd like a gilet with Slow Down Moron written on the back but I can't see it helping the situation either. Yawn

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1011 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 20:59

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I find these particular stickers to be so arrogant. Yesterday I saw a cement truck with a sticker that said something along the lines of, Cyclists, beware of passing this vehicle on the left That's great. It offers a warning to those of us on bikes who need a reminder without suggesting we are all idiot nuisances who ought not be on the roads. My natural reaction to reading, "Cyclists stay back," is to reply, f*ck off.

Ps. Why no colon? "Cyclists stay back" is an ascertion of fact. "Cyclists: stay back!" however, is a warning/instruction aimed at cyclists.

posted by Jonny_Trousers [67 posts]
23rd February 2014 - 0:57

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Quite tempted to get a bunch of stickers made up to stick on underneath them. Some wording like "In fact everyone stay back as I am a terrible driver". Should be easy to slap these one when the vehicles are stationary in traffic.

posted by SteppenHerring [153 posts]
23rd February 2014 - 2:10

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allez neg wrote:
Are the stickers thay much different from horse-ists wearing 'pass wide and slow' on their tops?

Oh now I get it, they mean pass leaving a big gap and slowly, not pass because I'm wide and slow...

posted by paulrbarnard [91 posts]
23rd February 2014 - 12:57

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