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Road safety & cycling groups said signs treated cyclists as 2nd class citizens & should only be on lorries

In what has been described as “a new low,” Transport for London (TfL) has rejected calls from road safety organisations and cycle campaign groups to ask vehicle operators in the capital to remove “Cyclists stay back” stickers from their vehicles, claiming it is too difficult.

In February, a joint statement from the Road Danger Reduction Forum (RDRF), CTC, London Cycling Campaign, RoadPeace and the Association of Bikeability Schemes called for the stickers, which have appeared on HGVs, vans, taxis and buses, to be removed by the end of March from all vehicles other than lorries, as originally intended.

Among other things, they said that the wording of the stickers gave the impression that cyclists are second class road users, and that the wording should be a warning rather than a command, similar to the wording that coach operator National Express recently said it would use, which advises, “Caution: blind spots, please take care.”

The organisations did not receive a response, but last week a spokeswoman for TfL told the website Local Transport Today that it is unfeasible to remove the stickers from vehicles.

She said that it would require a “substantial amount of time and money to remove the existing stickers from circulation, effort that would otherwise be devoted to improving the safety of vulnerable road users.”

TfL introduced the stickers in the middle of last year following consultation with road safety and cycling organisations.

While the wording to be used gave rise to controversy, at the time it was intended that the stickers only be displayed on lorries.

Responding to concerns that they have been used on other vehicles too, the spokeswoman continued: “It would be incredibly resource-intensive to differentiate between and enforce the distribution of stickers for different vehicle types.”

TfL’s director of planning for surface transport, Ben Plowden, said: “We are not aware of any evidence that suggests the design of these stickers is reducing their effectiveness in promoting safer behaviour among van, lorry drivers or cyclists.

“We are always open to suggestions about how we can improve safety and we will look at whether the design of future stickers should be changed to further improve their value.”

The RDRF hit out at TfL’s stance, saying on its website that its behaviour over the stickers represented “a new low” and that it had “shown contempt for the main cycling and danger reduction organisations who have tried to get it take a rational approach to this issue.”

It added: “These stickers have been around for nearly a year now. It is unacceptable that TfL is resorting to delaying tactics rather than admitting it made a mistake and taking action to correct it.”

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at CTC, quoted on the RDRF’s website, said: “TfL says it knows of no evidence that these stickers are changing drivers’ behaviour, but that’s only because nobody has looked for the evidence.

“However an inquest has been told that a deceased cyclist had failed to observe a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker, as if that somehow meant they were at fault.

“We also know of a case where a cyclist, who had been cut up and abused by a left-turning lorry driver, phoned up the company’s ‘How’s my driving’ reporting line, only to be told that he was in the wrong because the lorry had a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker.

“If that’s how these stickers are affecting people’s attitudes, it seems pretty obvious that they will worsen people’s behaviour too.

“It is ironic that Transport for London is working hard alongside CTC and others in pressing the government to give cyclists greater priority and safety at junctions,” he continued.

“Yet these stickers are clearly giving drivers the impression that it’s up to cyclists themselves to stay out of harm’s way. Instead of denying that there’s a problem,

“TfL really needs to act before these stickers cause yet more deaths and injuries to cyclists because of drivers turning left without looking properly,” he concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

44 comments

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KiwiMike [1074 posts] 1 year ago
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So now there's hard proof people are using these stickers to abdicate statutory responsibility from vehicle operators. Riiiight.

It would be terribly irresponsible to suggest that non-HGV vehicles bearing these stickers have their nearside indicators dealt to with a centre punch, so I won't.

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jacknorell [942 posts] 1 year ago
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If they take so much effort to remove, they should have used weaker glue...

TfL is a shambles, these stickers should never have been issued with this design / wording.

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SteppenHerring [322 posts] 1 year ago
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I see plenty of the "Cyclists do not pass on the left" type - which seems fair(ish) on HGVs where there's a massive blind spot. "Cyclists stay back" just says to me "Caution - Moron driving".

The fact that cycle lanes and ASLs encourage people into unsafe places is a whole other debate.

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bikebot [1635 posts] 1 year ago
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For this particular problem, my instincts tell me the default American solution may be applicable. Unfortunately, the opportunity to sue may require another tragedy to happen first.

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teaboy [307 posts] 1 year ago
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How much would it cost to produce some "Cyclists beware - Shit driver" stickers to cover these things with? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be 'too difficult' to remove them then...

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choddo [37 posts] 1 year ago
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Does anyone see one of these and NOT think, "f**k you buddy", no matter how wise it actually might be to avoid running alongside that vehicle?

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james-o [232 posts] 1 year ago
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“However an inquest has been told that a deceased cyclist had failed to observe a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker, as if that somehow meant they were at fault.

“We also know of a case where a cyclist, who had been cut up and abused by a left-turning lorry driver, phoned up the company’s ‘How’s my driving’ reporting line, only to be told that he was in the wrong because the lorry had a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker.

“If that’s how these stickers are affecting people’s attitudes, it seems pretty obvious that they will worsen people’s behaviour too.

“It is ironic that Transport for London is working hard alongside CTC and others in pressing the government to give cyclists greater priority and safety at junctions,” he continued.

“Yet these stickers are clearly giving drivers the impression that it’s up to cyclists themselves to stay out of harm’s way."

Worrying. Disappointing.

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dafyddp [323 posts] 1 year ago
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> “However an inquest has been told that a deceased cyclist had failed to observe a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker"...

Serious proposition - if London cyclists attached 'Motorists stay back, overtake wide' stickers to rucksacks or rear racks and are subsequently bumped they presumably would have the same comeback, right?

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Ladders [9 posts] 1 year ago
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All they needed was one word! - Please

Wouldn't cost too much to print out a 'please' patch to stick on these rude and offensive stickers!

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levermonkey [646 posts] 1 year ago
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Pedestrians walk between barriers and large vehicles at junctions as well.  19

My problem with this sticker is that it is judgemental, discriminatory, offensive, misused and insulting.  14

A better alternative would be "Take care when passing" or even better "Please take care when passing" with no pictogram of a bike on it. An eye pictogram could be used instead. I'm sure this was covered by a campaign recently.  7

Yes it would probably cost money to remove all the stickers but you could just stop them being put on new vehicles. As vehicle fleets are renewed then the stickers would just quietly fade away. Crossrail are probably the biggest culprits for the overuse and misuse of these stickers by insisting that they are on every vehicle.  26

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Ladders [9 posts] 1 year ago
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dafyddp wrote:

> “However an inquest has been told that a deceased cyclist had failed to observe a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker"...

Serious proposition - if London cyclists attached 'Motorists stay back, overtake wide' stickers to rucksacks or rear racks and are subsequently bumped they presumably would have the same comeback, right?

I think a 'Motorists, don't try to kill me' sticker would be more appropriate!

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P3t3 [198 posts] 1 year ago
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The cycle campaigns can surely deal with this, just start peeling every time you come across on stopped at the traffic lights.

I prefer the idea of covering up with a replacement sticker saying "take care - moron driving" though!

Its a shame TFL are being stubborn about it, all that is required is a memo saying "when you have a minute, pull these of any vehicle that isn't an HGV"... but that isn't the point, its dragging its feet deliberately because it thinks the stickers actually do something.

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oozaveared [933 posts] 1 year ago
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dafyddp wrote:

> “However an inquest has been told that a deceased cyclist had failed to observe a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker"...

Serious proposition - if London cyclists attached 'Motorists stay back, overtake wide' stickers to rucksacks or rear racks and are subsequently bumped they presumably would have the same comeback, right?

Good point but the issue is more complex than that. These stickers do not change the law. They don't provide any legal basis to refute liability by motorists. The problem is a more insidious one than that. It's the propensity for people to believe that because it's printed on a colourful sticker it has some legal relevance and to adjust their driving behaviour to one in which they think they are not liable if they hit cyclists that didn't do what the sticker told them to.

They may well get to find out in court (if they get there) that the stickers are legally meaningless. But the harm is already done.

That's why the TFL decision is so harmful. If private and small company drivers see such stickers on TFL (ie official governmenty public sectory) vehicles it implies that they do have some sort of legal or highway code basis.

We all know the propensity of non-cycling motorists most of whom have never read the highway code or referred to it since passing a driving test to just imagine all kinds of rules for other road users (not just cyclists) that simply don't exist, and to imagine all kinds of exemptions or privileges that apply to themselves that also don't exist.

I have had many discussions with friends, family and the odd altercation on the road where the Highway Code is cited followed by just made up invented provisions. That's because most drivers don't know what's in it and so just make up what they think should be in it.

A non cycling incident at the weekend displays this perfectly. I am in a car approaching then passing a line of about 20 cars parked cars on the other side of the road. Halfway along a car approaching in the other direction just overtakes the cars on their side of the road and we come to halt nose to nose. Stupid right?

But wait for it. the other driver gets out and approaches my car and starts beckoning me to get up on the pavement so he can get past. So I get out and ask what he's doing and he says that in situations like this I am allowed to use the pavement to make room "It's in the Highway Code". I told him what's not in the Highway Code is overtaking on the wrong side of the road so that you come head on with oncoming traffic. "But that's OK" says he "because when I approached the parked cars I was travelling faster than you so had right of way".

Nothing to do with cyclists just with people citing rules and provisions they just made up to justify bad and stupid driving. These stickers just add one more element to the confusion.

I would urge cyclists not to go up the inside of slow moving traffic anyway. If you ride in London Just get in the lane behind the vehicles with these stickers. Right in the middle.

ie my solution if TFL won't with draw them is to actually obey them on the inside anyway. If you can't pass then you stay in the lane right?
If any motorist challenges you just point at the sticker.

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Mrs Toast [6 posts] 1 year ago
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I've seen "Cyclists Please Take Care" stickers and "Cyclists - Don't pass on the inside" stickers, and I have no issue with those - although I still feel that more needs to be done with road design, as currently cycle lanes actively encourage cyclists to stay inside them and to go up the inside at junctions to get the ASL.

It's less of a problem for experienced cyclists who understand road riding, but for newer or less confident cyclists, it provides a false sense of security, and makes less enlightened motorists think that cyclists are being unreasonable if they ever stray outside of it.

But yeah, when I see a 'Cyclist Stay Back' sticker (whether I'm on the bike, the scooter or in the car), I automatically translate as, "The company running this vehicle don't give a shit if their drivers are terrible - expect sloppy lane discipline, mobile phone held to the ear and possibly a copy of The Sun across the steering wheel". The fact that these stickers are actually being referenced in accidents as being some sort of shield against sloppy driving is worrying, to say the least.

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giff77 [1191 posts] 1 year ago
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“We also know of a case where a cyclist, who had been cut up and abused by a left-turning lorry driver, phoned up the company’s ‘How’s my driving’ reporting line, only to be told that he was in the wrong because the lorry had a ‘cyclists stay back’ sticker."

So lorry drivers believe that they are now exempt from Rule 182? Granted that this is not a 'must' the fact of the mater is that the driver on this occasion cut up the cyclist. The cyclist did not filter the vehicle. It is further proof that our supposed highly trained knowledgeable HGV drivers are not as well trained as they would like us to believe and their lackies in the customer care department have an even lesser understanding of the Highway Code.

I saw a local vehicle in Scotland with the message 'do not filter when I am turning left'. Felt that this was much more appropriate.

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CXR94Di2 [1025 posts] 1 year ago
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Why don't the cycling organisations do their own sticker say

CYCLIST
Pass Wide!
Pass Slow!

I would be more than happy to place one of these on my vehicles. Hell I will even pay for it and the profit can help fund further road safety initiatives

Fight fire with fire, there must be a huge amount of cyclists who own vehicles. More promotion of cyclist safety will eventually have an affect.

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congokid [252 posts] 1 year ago
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"not aware of any evidence that suggests the design of these stickers is reducing their effectiveness in promoting safer behaviour among van, lorry drivers"

I'd be interested to hear exactly how these stickers influence van or lorry drivers' behaviour behind the wheel.

The most likely outcome is that drivers now think 'I don't have to pay attention any more or drive carefully because it's up to everyone outside the vehicle to read the warning notice'.

It's just yet another excuse for bad driving, and for the road haulage industry overall to ignore yet again its responsibilities to road safety.

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Wookie [213 posts] 1 year ago
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I think we should use the same stickers as stuck on the back of busses. Just put a line through the final s and stick it to your backpack.  1

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DrJDog [294 posts] 1 year ago
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Wesselwookie wrote:

I think we should use the same stickers as stuck on the back of busses. Just put a line through the final s and stick it to your backpack.  1

"Cyclists tay back" ????  7

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Wookie [213 posts] 1 year ago
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DrJDog wrote:
Wesselwookie wrote:

I think we should use the same stickers as stuck on the back of busses. Just put a line through the final s and stick it to your backpack.  1

"Cyclists tay back" ????  7

The final s of cyclists just to clear things up

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Maggers [55 posts] 1 year ago
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Saw a small van with a " Cyclists, Warning This Vehicle May turn Left" Sticker on it the other day.

Where do you start?

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Pimpmaster Jazz [16 posts] 1 year ago
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I'm going to get a large sticker that says "You're a c**t, f**k off." for my bag.

Is that an obvious enough command?

 102

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Grizzerly [252 posts] 1 year ago
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A vehicle fitted with these signs means that the driver is fully aware of the risks his vehicle poses to other road users. It is a full admission of responsibility in any accident which occurs.

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botoxking [31 posts] 1 year ago
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teaboy wrote:

How much would it cost to produce some "Cyclists beware - Shit driver" stickers to cover these things with? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be 'too difficult' to remove them then...

I want a batch of these and will happily slap them on the stickers as I see them!

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Yorkshie Whippet [501 posts] 1 year ago
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Pimpmaster Jazz wrote:

I'm going to get a large sticker that says "You're a c**t, f**k off." for my bag.

Is that an obvious enough command?

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Now if you could a get a few good shirts and long sleeve top or two with that on my credit card details are*********

Seriously like many others have said why don't we cyclist do the same? If it works for "Baby on Board" or "Cyclist don't Pass". I seem to have a lot more respect when riding in my "Bloody Cyclist" shirt than any other. It doesn't have to be day-glo or have 20 million candle power lights fitted, just something that makes other think what?

How about?

May wobble. Please allow space.
Human behind bars.
I may not be fast but I'm in front.
Please slow down, I'm only human.
Slow Fart In Front.
Are the hills always this steep?
Yes, I am going as fast as possible!

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Pimpmaster Jazz [16 posts] 1 year ago
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"Yes, I am going as fast as possible!"

I could see this working...

What about "I'm also someone's son/daughter*."

*Obviously gender specific.

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fluffy_mike [94 posts] 1 year ago
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Ladders wrote:

All they needed was one word! - Please

Wouldn't cost too much to print out a 'please' patch to stick on these rude and offensive stickers!

You're badly missing the point! There's no legal or safety reason why a cyclist should be told to STAY BACK from a vehicle like a car, bus or van, which has no genuines blind spots. (I know I drive a van)

The language is highly dubious even for lorries, but to put these stickers on vehicles without blind spots is an attempt to absolve drivers of responsibility. (And precious few show any as it is)

The stickers also hammer the message into the public's mind that cyclists must always STAY BACK, which is complete bollocks. The reason we cycle in the first place is so we don't have to sit in queues of traffic like the people in their massive space-wasting metal boxes.

This is one of the worst safety marketing campaigns in history, and TfL should hang their heads in shame.

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georgee [160 posts] 1 year ago
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Why not get one printed saying "due to my poor quality initentive shite driving i have to tell..."

I'd stick it on plenty of buses and trucks above that one

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Yorkshie Whippet [501 posts] 1 year ago
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FluffyKittenofT... [1114 posts] 1 year ago
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"Stay back" reads very close to "know your place" and is only one step away from "get off the road".

By the same "logic" that underlies these signs cyclists could wear one declaring "Motorists, stop clogging up the road" but the might-is-right principle behind these things means doing so would just provoke more aggressive behaviour.

The ONLY justified use of such signs, and even then its borderline, is to specifically give warning for large vehicles where the driver genuinely can't see you. Even then it should probably include an apology (for the crap vehicle design).

"Sorry, cyclists, I can't see you on my left" or somesuch.

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