"A new low" - TfL refuses to order removal of 'Cyclists stay back' stickers

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

by Simon_MacMichael   June 3, 2014  

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

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.

45 user comments

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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.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 9:04

125 Likes

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.

posted by CXR94Di2 [234 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 9:07

133 Likes

"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.

posted by congokid [161 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 9:15

131 Likes

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. Smile

Wesselwookie's picture

posted by Wesselwookie [154 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 10:18

116 Likes

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. Smile

"Cyclists tay back" ???? Confused

posted by DrJDog [182 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 10:39

126 Likes

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. Smile

"Cyclists tay back" ???? Confused

The final s of cyclists just to clear things up

Wesselwookie's picture

posted by Wesselwookie [154 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:17

123 Likes

Saw a small van with a " Cyclists, Warning This Vehicle May turn Left" Sticker on it the other day.

Where do you start?

posted by Maggers [57 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:19

123 Likes

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?

At Wits End

Me? Behind the bike sheds? With a young lady, a greasy chain and a small llama? With my reputation?

Pimpmaster Jazz's picture

posted by Pimpmaster Jazz [15 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:21

127 Likes

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.

Grizzerly

posted by Grizzerly [147 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:45

132 Likes

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!

botoxking's picture

posted by botoxking [32 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:46

122 Likes

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?

At Wits End

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!

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [344 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 11:50

120 Likes

"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.

Me? Behind the bike sheds? With a young lady, a greasy chain and a small llama? With my reputation?

Pimpmaster Jazz's picture

posted by Pimpmaster Jazz [15 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 12:35

119 Likes

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.

posted by fluffy_mike [87 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 13:04

135 Likes

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

posted by georgee [140 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 14:14

116 Likes

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [344 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 14:56

114 Likes

"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.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [751 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 16:47

116 Likes

As well as the sticker on the back it should be mandatory to have a sticker in front of the driver stating 'Don't drive like a Bell End'
Saw a van with a Cyclists Keep Back sticker on the A303 on my drive to work the other day, tailgating every single vehicle it came up behind, when will the powers that be get it through their thick skulls to start clamping down hard on these idiots and take them off the road, for good.
We are not talking about the odd driver who makes a mistake, these are divots who think it is OK to endanger other peoples lives.

posted by martib [48 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 18:05

113 Likes

Like others have suggested, what about an extra sticker to put underneath the offensive (poss) illegal sign.

My favourite would be; Moron Driving.

I would gladly stick that on vans displaying the original signage

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [605 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 18:22

112 Likes

I know alot of people think I'm vermin when I ride my bike. But bugger the lot of them I'm going to ride anyway.

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [264 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 18:24

117 Likes

It should be very easy to notice when a vehicle is turning left and may crush you. There are orange flashing lights attached to each corner, which flash when the stick attached to the steering column is moved in an anti-clockwise direction.

Sorry, sorry, just woken up. It was a lovely dream where people actually do what they should and indicate their intentions......!

Actually, I was surprised and suitably informed by a lorry shouting "Vehicle turning left! Vehicle turning left!" at me the other day. That did the job. I didn't undertake coming up to that particular junction. I survived to tell this tale - hurrah!

What is the legal position for if you're caught peeling the "Cyclists stay back" stickers off?

What's the difference in cost between having constantly changing advertising slogans slapped all over buses and removing small stickers?

Amusing as some of the alternative back pack / shirt slogan ideas are, I'm not sure I want to rile the many drivers who are courteous and don't see the need to try to kill me. Although, a supply of blank stickers to go over the offending TfL ones in a ready to reach pouch would be handy....

posted by Jimbonic [111 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 18:56

115 Likes

fluffy_mike wrote:

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)

So if I'm drafting six inches off your bumper at 50kph that's safe is it? and you can see me?

I mostly agree with you and I am against these signs because they have wider implications, but it's probably better advice for those less experienced than following the bike lane up the left of big vehicles.

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 20:12

110 Likes

The easily offended are top of my list come the revolution.

posted by Beaufort [184 posts]
3rd June 2014 - 20:39

116 Likes

Some of these signs are down right offensive, " Do not cycle on the inside".
Signage like this simply means that the driver is removing any responsibility from themselves without having to do anything.
Wrong!

On a more positive note, Bristol is trailing these things,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-27676723
I wonder what the main objections to installing these will be. Worried

posted by don simon [249 posts]
4th June 2014 - 6:18

107 Likes

This is truly sad if TfL think the answer to the lack of suitable cycling infrastructure is to patch it with a sticker!

I truly hate how such a stupid little thing messes up the peace I wish for - and normally enjoy - on a bike ride.

Horrible sticker - it would be interesting to know if its inventors and implementors have been on a bike recently??

posted by chaos [9 posts]
4th June 2014 - 20:27

99 Likes

Too much time and money to remove them? I'd do a couple for nothing Smile

chrisl's picture

posted by chrisl [38 posts]
4th June 2014 - 21:55

101 Likes

[[[[[ Sorry if this has already been suggested above, but can't they just PAINT OVER the far king signs? Four minutes per vehicle? TFL--get your brains out of your arses and stop the delaying tactics.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [306 posts]
4th June 2014 - 22:12

102 Likes

If you put this sort of crap on your car in Amsterdam you and your car would probably be beaten up by outraged cyclists...

posted by dnmvisser [4 posts]
5th June 2014 - 6:40

94 Likes

We just need cycling tops that have "Motorists stay back" on our backs, play them at their own game!

posted by Frannybobs [10 posts]
5th June 2014 - 7:13

96 Likes

Its indicative of where the sympathies lies within the Establishment. Cyclists are viewed as more of a bolshy, do-gooder, protest group, who don't play by the rules rather than a vulnerable road user group. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Cyclists are more like pedestrians than they are like motor vehicles. Treating cyclists like motor vehicles is fundamentally wrong and until the idiots that run this country get that into their thick skulls nothing will change.

I read, today, in a professional safety publication, a readers letter from a so-called safety professional, who, whilst commenting on TfL's recent cycling safety initiative, described cyclists as an 'increasingly lawless class of road user'. If you get that sort of attitude from safety experts it's no wonder TfL treat the subject in the way they do.

The idea that cost and effort is the reason for not removing or amending the signs is ludicrous. If it cost time and effort to put them on in the first place it's surely worth making corrections now they have become apparent.

If there had been a misspelling and the signs read 'Cyclists Don't Stay Back', would TfL be making the same argument?

I think not.

posted by BigBear63 [72 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:37

90 Likes

[[[[[ Can of spray-paint in the bottle-cage? Just for the word "BACK"....and then it would be "far too much trouble" (for the registered keeper, or TFL) to remove. Note the "?" above, to show it's just a thought...innit. I am definately thinking, though...
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [306 posts]
7th June 2014 - 2:06

83 Likes