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Stickers will make roads safe for cyclists, says motoring organisation

Nine out of ten drivers claim it is sometimes hard to see cyclists while driving and more than half (55%) are often ‘surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere’, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the AA comes as the motoring organisation launches a national “Think Bikes” awareness campaign, which includes a video demonstrating one way of getting drivers' attention.

Every cyclist is familiar with the Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You (SMIDSY) excuse when a driver puts a rider in danger. The AA admits that ‘failure to look properly’ is the most commonly cited (42%) contributory factor in UK road accidents. Drivers failing to properly look in their left mirrors has also been cited as a factor in numerous cycling casualties.

The AA’s answer is to distribute a million free stickers as a reminder to drivers to do a ‘double-take’ in their mirrors for cycles and motorcycles in their blind spots. The AA suggests that the cycle sticker is placed on the passenger’s side and the motorcycle one on the driver’s side.

The stickers can be picked up from Halfords and will also be distributed by the police and directly to AA members.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The AA Think Bikes campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users and this is where our stickers act as a daily reminder.

“Likewise riders need to be aware that they may not always be spotted by drivers. We hope that this campaign can reach the parts that other campaigns can’t reach.

”Greater awareness alongside education, enforcement and improved infrastructure will make our roads safer for all.”

British Cycling, Sustrans, London Cycling Campaign and the Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) have all welcomed the campaign.

British Cycling’s policy advisor Chris Boardman said: “This move by the AA is a welcome step in creating a culture of mutual respect between all road users. We know that cyclists and drivers are often the same people – nine out of 10 British Cycling members also drive a car. This sticker campaign reflects the importance of looking out for everyone on the road, regardless of what form of transport they use.”

Claire Francis, Head of Policy for Sustrans said: “We welcome this initiative by the AA. However, road user behaviour is only part of the issue. Many of our roads are not fit for cycling. We need urgent action by the UK Governments to cycle-proof our roads to make them places where cyclists feel they belong.

“20mph must be made the default speed limit and HGVs should be fitted with appropriate safety features and restricted on our roads at the busiest times.”

LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said: “The most important thing that can be done to improve cycling safety in the UK is to design streets that minimise the risk of collision between motor vehicles and cyclists and pedestrians, as they have in countries like the Netherlands.

“That won’t happen overnight, which is why in the meantime initiatives to promote responsible driving like Think Bike from the AA are important in helping to reduce death and serious injury to cyclists.”

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: "The IAM welcomes any campaign which raises awareness of how vulnerable cyclists can be around motor vehicles. Reminders can be useful but the best drivers should already be looking out for cyclists at all times."

Sceptics might question the effectiveness of putting stickers in wing mirrors when crashes are caused by drivers not using them in the first place. And not everyone is impressed with the idea of yet another awareness campaign, given the lack of effect of previous such initiatives.

Mark Sargeant, chair of the GB Cycling Embassy, said: “We've been asking people to look and think for over eighty years, without much success.”

Fortunately, though, the AA does have a solution to what we have to do to get drivers to actually notice us, demonstrated in this campaign video:

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

26 comments

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Bez [619 posts] 3 years ago
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And if people do use mirrors, let's place something in there to obstruct their view.  41

How about instead they reproduce this information in digestible, layman's terms…
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/
…so as to help prevent Smidsys from the many people who are well-meaning but who - quite understandably - think that looking once means they have seen everything that is there to be seen.

If people can be made to understand why looking once won't mean you've seen everything, and if people are habituated to look more than once when learning, prior to being awarded a licence, that would actually have an effect. Wouldn't solve everything, but it would have a real effect on a common problem.

Is it just me? Is anyone actually thinking through the thought processes of people who use the roads - let alone actually using cognitive scientists - or do they just brainstorm for a bit and then reach a lull in proceedings and go "ah, sod it, let's just make some stickers"?

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JeevesBath [195 posts] 3 years ago
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Bez wrote:

...or do they just brainstorm for a bit and then reach a lull in proceedings and go "ah, sod it, let's just make some stickers"?

Having been involved in road safety campaigns (not for cycling) in the past, yes!

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rich22222 [166 posts] 3 years ago
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Why has no-one thought of this before - "Remember to open your eyes" stickers are bound to work.
Surely by now motorists should have realised they aren't the only people on the road!?

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CanAmSteve [257 posts] 3 years ago
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About as effective as the "Objects in Mirror are Closer than - BANG" warnings are...

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adscrim [144 posts] 3 years ago
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rich22222 wrote:

Why has no-one thought of this before - "Remember to open your eyes" stickers are bound to work.

But if the eyes are closed, they'll never see the stickers - in much the same way as if they don't use the left mirror, they'll never see the sticker.

I welcome the input from large organisations and with any luck, thinking about it enough to place the stickers will mean that some will then be more aware of bikes. I imagine many more will take as much notice of the campaign as they do other road users.

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Timsen [77 posts] 3 years ago
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The guy in the picture looks like he needs a new Bum......... that one's got a crack in it !  21

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Yennings [237 posts] 3 years ago
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So let me get this straight - drivers who already don't bother checking their wing mirrors will now have to actively look at their wing mirrors to be reminded that they should, erm, look in their wing mirrors more often?

Sticking these stupid stickers over the car's speedometer, stereo controls or mobile phone keypad would probably be more effective at putting them directly in the driver's line of sight, alas...

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gazza_d [472 posts] 3 years ago
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Listening to the radio news and laughing at the way this is being presented.

Drivers don't look & don't see cyclists, yet think the cyclists are the irresponsible road users - Barking, simply barking.

This isn't going to stop the total psycho lunatics - We need proper reporting and enforcement backed up by harsh punishments to deal with them.

This isn't about infrastructure. the AA cannot build that, but this is about trying to get cyclists more in the mindset of the ordinary person who only drives.

Yes, we have had these before,and yes, we will have them again. But the point in the video and in the stickers idea is a single clear message which is correct. I think the stickers idea is slightly pointless.

As long as the cycling groups focus on the real answers which are infrastructure, and proper policing, then I am quite happy to see this kind of campaign.

I would like to see the video picked up as a TV ad and played during the soaps etc.

the mass media, TV, radio, papers (with some notable exceptions) need to start reporting properely on this sort of story, rather than spinning it into the usual cyclists are evil rubbish that we currently get

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andyp [1508 posts] 3 years ago
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'Drivers don't look & don't see cyclists, yet think the cyclists are the irresponsible road users - Barking, simply barking.'

Agreed. Barking. Most drivers do look and do see cyclists.

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giff77 [1277 posts] 3 years ago
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Bez wrote:

And if people do use mirrors, let's place something in there to obstruct their view.  41

How about instead they reproduce this information in digestible, layman's terms…
http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/
…so as to help prevent Smidsys from the many people who are well-meaning but who - quite understandably - think that looking once means they have seen everything that is there to be seen.

If people can be made to understand why looking once won't mean you've seen everything, and if people are habituated to look more than once when learning, prior to being awarded a licence, that would actually have an effect. Wouldn't solve everything, but it would have a real effect on a common problem.

Is it just me? Is anyone actually thinking through the thought processes of people who use the roads - let alone actually using cognitive scientists - or do they just brainstorm for a bit and then reach a lull in proceedings and go "ah, sod it, let's just make some stickers"?

You would think wouldn't you. I know of numerous folk who failed their test simply because they never used any of their mirrors enough. Sad to say, once folk get that little bit of paper allowing them to drive unaccompanied, everything learnt gets chucked out the window. On my commute there is a side street with a stop sign and a solid line on the junction. I have yet to see a vehicle stop. Everyone treats it as a give way junction. Also there's a junction where the lights are regularly jumped by motorists. The record is currently sitting at eight. I have challenged the police on this and they just shrug their shoulders.

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MartyMcCann [277 posts] 3 years ago
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As others have pointed out- stickers on mirrors aren't much use if the mirror never gets looked at. I was driving behind a car recently for 12 miles and their wing mirrors were folded in the whole time- shows you how often there were checked if the driver didn't even notice!

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IanW1968 [342 posts] 3 years ago
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As it evidenced in the other story of the day.

Motorists can see cyclist perfectly well, they just then choose to run them over, encouraged by cocks like Clarkson and the safe knowledge nothing will happen to them regardless of the circumstances.

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congokid [323 posts] 3 years ago
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adscrim wrote:
rich22222 wrote:

Why has no-one thought of this before - "Remember to open your eyes" stickers are bound to work.

But if the eyes are closed, they'll never see the stickers - in much the same way as if they don't use the left mirror, they'll never see the sticker.

What's needed are stickers for inside drivers' eyelids, to remind them to open their eyes and use their wing mirrors...

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Beefy [381 posts] 3 years ago
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If Joe Blogs is in Halfords, given a sticker and has the motivation to stick it in the mirror of his car then it has already succeeded as he has in a small way acknowledged cyclists exist and even if he just has an occasional automatic thought about cyclists then it is a step in the right direction.

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Beefy [381 posts] 3 years ago
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If Joe Blogs is in Halfords, given a sticker and has the motivation to stick it in the mirror of his car then it has already succeeded as he has in a small way acknowledged cyclists exist and even if he just has an occasional automatic thought about cyclists then it is a step in the right direction.

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IanW1968 [342 posts] 3 years ago
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Can I propose a sticker for the Police saying, "enforce the law". Another for the CPS, "prosecute the crime" and lastly one for the Judges, "punish offenders".

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BertYardbrush [60 posts] 3 years ago
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Why do motor cyclists have their lights on all the time?
Why are cyclists dressing in black and reluctant to use their lights at any time?
There ARE simple things we can do, it's a mystery why it's so difficult.
Is there some macho thing going on?

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Argos74 [451 posts] 3 years ago
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Did four years taking accident reports from drivers for a well-known insurance company. It's not just cyclists that some drivers don't see.

Other cars, trees, buildings. Trucks, trams, brick walls. Street signs. Motorbikes. Pedestrians. Skips. Lorries. Bollards. Buses. If a car can reach it, I've probably logged it. And if they can't reach it, some of them have given it a damned good go anyway.

There has to be a better method of testing a driver's hazard perception than clicking a mouse on a sheep on a computer screen. Seriously.

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userfriendly [617 posts] 3 years ago
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BertYardbrush wrote:

Why do motor cyclists have their lights on all the time?

It's called daytime running light. It's on purpose.

BertYardbrush wrote:

Why are cyclists dressing in black and reluctant to use their lights at any time?

Yes, let's make a nice blanket statement, why don't we ...

A lot of my kit is black. All of it has loads of reflective surface. Beats "hi-viz" jackets in the visibility department quite a bit. And my lights are powerful enough to roast a small mammal. If need be.

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matthewn5 [1069 posts] 3 years ago
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+1 for IanW1968

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Hensteeth [81 posts] 3 years ago
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Sorry to be pedantic but the vast majority of cars on the road now have door mirrors not wing mirrors. I think they went out in the 70's or at the latest the 80's. Unless you have a vintage motor there will be nowhere to stick them. And if you put it on an actual wing mirror it would probably be too far away to see. You would no doubt run over a cyclist while trying to figure out what that yellow thing on your wing mirror was.
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Hensteeth [81 posts] 3 years ago
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BertYardbrush wrote:

Why do motor cyclists have their lights on all the time?
Why are cyclists dressing in black and reluctant to use their lights at any time?
There ARE simple things we can do, it's a mystery why it's so difficult.
Is there some macho thing going on?

About as macho as driving a black car.
ooooohh. Maybe all cars, bikes, pedestrians etc etc shoukd all wear hi viz and have lights attached and switched on all the time then no one would have to actually look at anything ever again.
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K Stand Ken [59 posts] 3 years ago
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These stickers "may" address a small part of the problem, but we can be aware of those drivers who are in front of us (and may, or may not be using their mirrors) and whose actions we can possibly anticipate.
What worries me just as much are those vehicles that cyclists can't see coming from behind (or to a lesser extent from the side) where a rider has no opportunity to exercise his self-preservation skills.

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IHphoto [119 posts] 3 years ago
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The eye accounts for a surprisingly small fraction when it comes to seeing. It's the brain that makes sense of what gets sent from each retina. In short we won't see something unless we are actually looking for it. This is why many behind the wheel don't see bikes or in fact anything much smaller than a motor vehicle until it's way too late when perhaps some other secondary part of the visual processing system kicks in - but is not adapted to moving at 30+ mph.

Here's an article which makes ofr facinating reading regarding the perception of reality as delivered by our brains and relating this to our visual physiology:

http://discovermagazine.com/1993/jun/thevisionthingma227

Perhaps though rather than just 'think bike' we should be asking people to 'think person'. Far too often many of us only think in terms of objects when driving.

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Recumbenteer [174 posts] 3 years ago
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BertYardbrush wrote:

Why do motor cyclists have their lights on all the time?
Why are cyclists dressing in black and reluctant to use their lights at any time?
There ARE simple things we can do, it's a mystery why it's so difficult.
Is there some macho thing going on?

What about pedestrians?
What about horses?

The basic problem is that motor-vehicles are often driven by people who are always in a hurry - mostly for no particular reason. In consequence: they drive too close (to the vehicle in-front, or pass dangerously close); at junctions they don't make adequate observations (or even bother to look); they carry too much speed into bends; and drive too fast for the conditions.
Of course, they are very likely to use the phone at the wheel.

It's little-wonder that so many drivers are basically crap-drivers.

It's always blame the victim, not the person responsible in their over-sized, over-powerful vehicle.

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jacknorell [977 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Argos74 wrote:

Did four years taking accident reports from drivers for a well-known insurance company. It's not just cyclists that some drivers don't see.

Other cars, trees, buildings. Trucks, trams, brick walls. Street signs. Motorbikes. Pedestrians. Skips. Lorries. Bollards. Buses. If a car can reach it, I've probably logged it. And if they can't reach it, some of them have given it a damned good go anyway.

There has to be a better method of testing a driver's hazard perception than clicking a mouse on a sheep on a computer screen. Seriously.

Thank you, this made me laugh  4