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Coach operator wants to let cyclists know about vehicle blind spots

National Express coaches wants you to vote on which of two warning stickers it should adopt to let cyclists know its vehicles restrict its drivers view of the road so that they pose a hazard to vulnerable road users.

The two sticker designs were developed by National Express and a focus group of cyclists and experts at sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which is hosting the vote.

The appeal for help picking a design comes after a York cyclist published a compilation of careless and irresponsible driver behaviour including an overtake by a National Express coach that clearly failed to meet the Highway Code recommendation to “give … cyclists … at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”.

Sustrans’ expertise is in building off-highway shared-use active travel facilities, so it’s perhaps not surprising that this exercise doesn't seem to have landed on the idea that making coaches less hazardous might be better than slapping on a few stickers.

The group came up with two designs: an arrow style sticker warning cyclists about passing on the left-hand side; and one that includes a large eye, focusing riders’ attention on the coach driver’s blind spot.

To be fair to National Express and Sustrans, the stickers do at least warn of the specific problem, vehicle blind spots. That will be seen as an improvement on the ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers issued by Transport for London that have appeared on even small vans as well as trucks in the capital.

Representatives of cycling campaign groups, including CTC, London Cycling Campaign and Road Danger Reduction Forum, wrote to Transport for London in February saying: “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.”

One of the campaigners’ concerns was that the sticker “conveys no useful information to cyclists,” said in a follow-up letter to Leon Daniels of TfL, adding: “We have suggested that wording should specifically draw attention to the risk from left-turning HGVs.”

According to collision-avoidance system manufacturer EyeDrive, National Express has trialled its Collision Prevention System and more than halved the number of near-misses recorded by its vehicles.

To pick your favourite, go to Sustrans.

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.

52 comments

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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I think that's fine.

I don't think the stickers just saying "cyclists stay back" are. That's daft especially when they are attached to vehicles that don't pose any particular special danger in that regard.

But to me reminding other road users about blind spots seems quite useful.

Stickers like this are common when aimed at other motorists. ie "If you can't see my mirrors - I can't see you."

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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How about one in the cab - "don't drive in a manner that is likely to cause fear or harm to others"?

The trouble with the "if you can't see my mirrors" one is that it's perfectly possible to see the vehicle's mirrors from absolutely everywhere on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Just because the mirrors can be seen from outside the vehicle it doesn't mean the driver can see you in them.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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The triangular design, especially with the left-pointing arrow, is dangerous. A quick glance indicates that you should go left, esp if the cyclist doesn't have driver training.

The square design, but with the bolder border, imagery (less arrow), and phrasing from the triangle would be best.

The larger the cycle icon can be, the better, so the eye in the square design is superfluous I think.

Both are flawed as is.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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teaboy wrote:

The trouble with the "if you can't see my mirrors" one is that it's perfectly possible to see the vehicle's mirrors from absolutely everywhere on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Just because the mirrors can be seen from outside the vehicle it doesn't mean the driver can see you in them.

Someone from DfT came out and said that if the mirrors are correctly adjusted, there should be no blindspot with the new types.

The greater problem is drivers not using them...

Cameras would be so much better, at low cost.

Added benefit would be that a driver can also see any other obstructions on the side, so hopefully fewer pieces of road furniture gets mangled as well.

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bikebot [1924 posts] 2 years ago
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The square design, but get rid of the eye and just use a bigger, bolder bicycle symbol.

Purely because it's a damn ugly piece of design.

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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I like the bike in the eye idea, as others have said the triangle pointing left could be easily misinterpreted.

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Saint Mark [37 posts] 2 years ago
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These are a bit like the 'if you can't see my mirrors I can't see you' stickers, aren't they. I think anything that raises awareness is good, and to be encouraged. I consider myself an experienced road user but was amazed when I saw a safety video at how big the blind spots on these vehicles actually are.

But, what I particularly noticed is this sentence:

"National Express wants... to let cyclists know its vehicles restrict its drivers view of the road so that they pose a hazard to vulnerable road users."

 13
Surely that's the problem that needs addressing? The real answer to improving safety of vulnerable road users lies in designing vehicles that are safe in the first place and legislating against unsafe design.

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SteppenHerring [328 posts] 2 years ago
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I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

I've had the same thought - 'crap driver onboard' would do the trick nicely

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

If you're actually buying these... I'm in for a couple dozen  4

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Bhachgen [111 posts] 2 years ago
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Aye. The left one is completely stupid and I can't believe anyone at Sustrans could have thought that was suitable. Many people would take an implication of that sign as "please pass on the left". When people who are actually campaigning on behalf of cyclists come up with something like that it's no wonder the crap we get from non-cycling-specialist organisations such as local authorities etc.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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teaboy wrote:

How about one in the cab - "don't drive in a manner that is likely to cause fear or harm to others"?

The trouble with the "if you can't see my mirrors" one is that it's perfectly possible to see the vehicle's mirrors from absolutely everywhere on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Just because the mirrors can be seen from outside the vehicle it doesn't mean the driver can see you in them.

What?

The warning is to vehicles behind.

If you can't see the lorry's mirrors then you are in a blind spot. The driver can't possibly see you. That's all. Simple advice.
There may well be other blind spots but just because you can't have a great long explanation about all of the possibilities doesn't mean you shouldn't warn/remind people of the principal one.

Red triangle warining signs exist that say "oncoming traffic in the middle of the road".

I bet you object to that because there may actually be no oncoming traffic at that precise moment. And that they have neglected to put up a sign somewhere else that someone could be oncoming in the middle of the road but for no good reason.

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kie7077 [877 posts] 2 years ago
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F*ck the stickers, eliminate the blind spots and then we'll talk about the stickers.

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coldbeer [5 posts] 2 years ago
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"National Express wants your help picking sticker to warn of coach blind spots

From recent video evidence, might they be better off improving driver training?"

As usual a stupid headline to a story of someone actually trying to do something helpful.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:
SteppenHerring wrote:

I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

I've had the same thought - 'crap driver onboard' would do the trick nicely

That's probably unfair. That some companies are aware of a problem and want to do something about it, however cackhandedly, probably means their drivers are the better ones and are also aware and more careful.

The ones you should really worry about are the ones that are less aware and even if they were aware wouldn't even bother to try to warn people with any kind of sticker because it will cost them a a few quid, they can't be bothered and it their lookout anyway.

Let's not make perfect the enemy of the good shall we?

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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kie7077 wrote:

F*ck the stickers, eliminate the blind spots and then we'll talk about the stickers.

What are we talking here? See through lorries and cargoes? Light bending forcefields? Using "the force"? What?

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Jonathing [72 posts] 2 years ago
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How about we take vehicles off the road which have blind spots big enough to need stickers for? I'm always meet with stoney silence when, at those sit-cyclists-in-a-cab events, I ask why something with that little visibility is allowed on the road in the first place.

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LinusLarrabee [120 posts] 2 years ago
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You can tell these were designed by or as a result of a committee and focus group. And why do they need the Sustrans logo on them? All it needed was a simple bike icon with the following text below it:

BEWARE!
Driver
Blind
Spots

Everything else is superfluous waffle and branding. The word "Driver" could also be removed from my example to make it more concise.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Howsabout:

"Cyclists!

We don't want you on the roads and we sure as hell don't want you on our frigging paths either. Just piss off, now, OK?

Lots of Love,

Sustrans.

PS, We've got a new fundraising campaign coming up, would it be possible for all you cyclists to chip in a few quid for it? Or buy some of the over priced tat from our online shop to help us financially? Cheers, ta."

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
LinusLarrabee wrote:

You can tell these were designed by or as a result of a committee and focus group. And why do they need the Sustrans logo on them? All it needed was a simple bike icon with the following text below it:

BEWARE!
Driver
Blind
Spots

Everything else is superfluous waffle and branding. The word "Driver" could also be removed from my example to make it more concise.

1 What's wrong with groups designing things. Getting in other opinions and views and discussing them.

2 Focus groups have a bad name through political associations but they are used every day in advertising because they work. They are the antidote to the dreaded "groupthink". ie Young creative types living in London and working at ad agencies may tend to share a common outlook that they think is obvious but isn't to everyone. ipso facto their designs are tested in focus groups ie a mixed group of people being asked what they think. This is thenfed back into the design.

3 Even military plans are trialled by what we called Red Team in the same manner.

Floating this in front of us cyclists on this and other sites is part of that.

I am glad you have your own wording. Can you explain how you would gauge its effectiveness and acceptability prior to spending a shed load of money on producing the leaflets only to find out that they annoyed people or were unclear, not noticed, too small, the wrong colour, too unfriendly, not serious enough....?

Might you not show them to someone else and see what they thought? No?

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:
teaboy wrote:

How about one in the cab - "don't drive in a manner that is likely to cause fear or harm to others"?

The trouble with the "if you can't see my mirrors" one is that it's perfectly possible to see the vehicle's mirrors from absolutely everywhere on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Just because the mirrors can be seen from outside the vehicle it doesn't mean the driver can see you in them.

What?

The warning is to vehicles behind.

If you can't see the lorry's mirrors then you are in a blind spot. The driver can't possibly see you. That's all. Simple advice.
There may well be other blind spots but just because you can't have a great long explanation about all of the possibilities doesn't mean you shouldn't warn/remind people of the principal one.

Red triangle warining signs exist that say "oncoming traffic in the middle of the road".

I bet you object to that because there may actually be no oncoming traffic at that precise moment. And that they have neglected to put up a sign somewhere else that someone could be oncoming in the middle of the road but for no good reason.

Wow. Did you get out the wrong side of bed this morning?!

All I said is the "If you can't see my mirrors I can't see you" sign implies that if you can see the mirrors the driver should be able to see you, which they can't necessarily do. This could lead people to believe they are in a safe position (they can see the mirrors) when they aren't.

Eliminate the blind spots as much as possible and engineer the roads and junctions to reduce the harm caused by large vehicles.

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zanf [838 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
farrell wrote:

Howsabout:

"Cyclists!

We don't want you on the roads and we sure as hell don't want you on our frigging paths either. Just piss off, now, OK?

Lots of Love,

Sustrans.

PS, We've got a new fundraising campaign coming up, would it be possible for all you cyclists to chip in a few quid for it? Or buy some of the over priced tat from our online shop to help us financially? Cheers, ta."

Every time I come to threads like this, you've always already said something along the lines of what I was going to post!

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Jonathing wrote:

How about we take vehicles off the road which have blind spots big enough to need stickers for? I'm always meet with stoney silence when, at those sit-cyclists-in-a-cab events, I ask why something with that little visibility is allowed on the road in the first place.

Dangerous idea.

Cos maybe the flip side will be that it would be easier, less expensive to keep the cyclists away from the lorries and ban us instead.

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

And if you want to make the govt or councils make an either/or choice between placating a few hot headed cyclists that don't like a sticker on a bus, and taking on the RHA. What do you think the outcome would be?

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LinusLarrabee [120 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

1 What's wrong with... [the rest of the babble cut short]

This is not an advertising / marketing campaign. These are not leaflets or posters a person will take away and read at their leisure. This is a functional sign that will be stuck to the back of a moving vehicle and be seen by moving cyclists. There's a reason road signs don't have paragraphs of text on them - hopefully I don't need to explain to you why.

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I vandalised a "Cyclists Stay Back" sticker on a lorry about 35 minutes ago. Fnarr.

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severs1966 [345 posts] 2 years ago
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"Warning: This badly designed bus and under-trained driver will kill you and then blame you for it"

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
oozaveared wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
SteppenHerring wrote:

I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

I've had the same thought - 'crap driver onboard' would do the trick nicely

That's probably unfair. That some companies are aware of a problem and want to do something about it, however cackhandedly, probably means their drivers are the better ones and are also aware and more careful.

The ones you should really worry about are the ones that are less aware and even if they were aware wouldn't even bother to try to warn people with any kind of sticker because it will cost them a a few quid, they can't be bothered and it their lookout anyway.

Let's not make perfect the enemy of the good shall we?

It probably is unfair and yep, I know some bus and haulage companies are doing a bit to try and alleviate the problem. But plenty aren't.

It was a National Express coach in the video clip from York doing a close pass remember. While the company management may be trying to reduce the firm's insurance premiums, there is at least one driver out there who the message hasn't filtered down to.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Hooray for putting the blame on the victim it seems? major fail.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
LinusLarrabee wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

1 What's wrong with... [the rest of the babble cut short]

This is not an advertising / marketing campaign. These are not leaflets or posters a person will take away and read at their leisure. This is a functional sign that will be stuck to the back of a moving vehicle and be seen by moving cyclists. There's a reason road signs don't have paragraphs of text on them - hopefully I don't need to explain to you why.

It's a design isssue for a piece of communication. Much like advertising.
http://designmuseum.org/design/jock-kinneir-margaret-calvert

Audience
Opportunity to view
Message

Short enough?

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:
oozaveared wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
SteppenHerring wrote:

I have been very tempted to get some black on yellow stickers made up that say "Crap Driver" in order to be able to slap these on vehicles right underneath the "Cyclists Stay Back" stickers.

I've had the same thought - 'crap driver onboard' would do the trick nicely

That's probably unfair. That some companies are aware of a problem and want to do something about it, however cackhandedly, probably means their drivers are the better ones and are also aware and more careful.

The ones you should really worry about are the ones that are less aware and even if they were aware wouldn't even bother to try to warn people with any kind of sticker because it will cost them a a few quid, they can't be bothered and it their lookout anyway.

Let's not make perfect the enemy of the good shall we?

It probably is unfair and yep, I know some bus and haulage companies are doing a bit to try and alleviate the problem. But plenty aren't.

It was a National Express coach in the video clip from York doing a close pass remember. While the company management may be trying to reduce the firm's insurance premiums, there is at least one driver out there who the message hasn't filtered down to.

Agreed so lets' encourage those that want to (for whatever motivation) do something about the problem. If (as some on here seem to) we attack the ones that are trying then they may well decide that its counterproductive for them to do or say or propose anything because it puts them in the spotlight to be abused. Meanwhile. I M Pikey skip hire up the road comes in for no criticism whatsoever because it couldn't give a monkeys if a cyclist is killed. It'll just fire the driver and get another one and get back to business.

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