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A contribution to cycle safety, a well-intentioned idea poorly executed or just alibi-creation?

Remember our story last month reporting how coach operator National Express wanted the public to vote on which of two designs of sticker warning cyclists of its vehicles’ blind spots it should adopt? A road.cc reader has spotted the final design on one of its coaches – and he’s not impressed.

The design chosen was the yellow triangle bordered in red that appears in the picture above with a drawing of a bicycle and the words, “Caution: Blind Spots” and, underneath, “Please take care.”

It was one of two designs put forward by National Express after consulting with a focus group of cyclists by National Express and staff from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which hosted the vote.

We were sent the above picture of a coach with the sticker by John Smith, who also uploaded a video of the vehicle to YouTube.

He said: “I saw my first 'National Express' sticker today. I can report that they are near enough useless. The only reason I saw it is because I was specifically looking out for it (I have been ever since hearing there was a new design).”

Outlining the reasons why he felt underwhelmed by the sight of the sticker, he said: “It's too small to read, it’s too low to be seen by a cyclist,” and “the back of National Express buses are already full of 'stuff'.”

What do you think? Now you’ve seen one, do the stickers make a contribution to the safety of cyclists, is this a well-intentioned gesture that has been poorly executed, or is this just yet another road transport company getting its excuses ready in advance so it can say a dead cyclist was warned?

Let us know in the comments below.

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.

39 comments

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levermonkey [680 posts] 2 years ago
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Well, at least it's inoffensive.  19

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe they could add a warning saying they will park pretty much wherever you most wouldn't like to have to over take a bus, like on a main road, on a corner in rush hour while I'm cycling my kids to school.

It took over a generation. almost two generations from when they found out cigarettes killed you to not have to work somewhere and breathe in smoke.

How long will it take from establishing we shouldn't have to share with vehicles like this to actually not having to share with them?

Stickers Schmickers.

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FlatBattery [26 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd probably run into the back of the bus trying to read it. Waaay to small.

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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An irrelevant distraction in the campaign for a safe environment for cycling for all, like the rest of the stickers and the helmet debate.

Do National Express drivers have regular cycle training? If not, why not? That would do more to make the current roads safer than any sticker ever can.

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Ducci [92 posts] 2 years ago
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So instead of eliminating the blind spot through design or technology they've gone for the soft option i.e. up yours cyclist. If we chose that option at work the HSE would be all over us.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps they've put it down there, so you can read it after being knocked off.

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fatbeggaronabike [836 posts] 2 years ago
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What's the legal standing on this? as they have just admitted in print that they are operating a fleet of coaches that have a dangerous design flaw in (on?) them / their drivers cannot adequately see the road when driving.

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freespirit1 [247 posts] 2 years ago
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If the vehicles have passed type approval and meet all the other regs, not a lot you can do.

Most of these laws come from Brussels these days.

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rockdemon [12 posts] 2 years ago
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It's a basically saying this vehicle isn't safe to be on the road. If they really wanted to make a useful gesture then extra mirrors, cameras, or some sort of detection system would be more use...

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Flying Scot [921 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah....OK, I hear the comments, but we all still see people who are either foreign, don't drive, or are new/ naive cyclists riding up the inside of long vehicles that are about to turn that I wouldn't and never have.

Sticker isn't absolving blame, just a warning to take care, there isn't a reliable system yet to check the inside on long vehicles yet, when there is, it should be mandatory, until then, drivers will struggle to look in two directions at once.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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How about this... take some responsibility as a cyclists and don't do stupid things like cycle up the inside of a bus or lorry unless you are 100% certain its isn't going to move or turn left, there are blind spots and whilst there is no doubt that some of the tragic accidents as the fault of the driver, some are also the fault of the cyclist, so look after yourself first, you really shouldn't need a sticker to tell you not to do some dumb manoeuvre.

And now I await the abuse from the god like members of this forum.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:

...you really shouldn't need a sticker to tell you not to do some dumb manoeuvre.

These stickers are for the benefit of bus/lorry companies, not cyclists.

But it's easy to see why novice cyclists are drawn up the left side of vehicles because that's where all the cycle lanes tell them to be. In fact till very recently it was illegal to enter an ASL box unless you used the feeder lane on the left. When it is safer to break the law than obey road markings then something is very wrong!

mikeprytherch wrote:

And now I await the abuse from the god like members of this forum.

I'm confused: you're suggesting cyclists should all be infallible (like you?) and then complaining about "god like" forum members?  7

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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It's funny how we just accept the presence of a vehicle where the driver apparently can't see a dozen people on bikes right next to him/her.

How is that a suitable thing to drive through a busy city?

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LinusLarrabee [120 posts] 2 years ago
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Designed by a committee full of morons.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt... this forum seems full of cyclists who believe that Drivers should be infallible, that is my point about the God Like forum members, I am not infallible and was not trying to suggest anything of the sort, my view goes against most of the posts in this forum in that I do blame cyclists as much as drivers, so I was waiting for a backlash for even suggesting that some of the fault lies with us the cyclist, after all it is a cyclist forum and not MaxPower.

How on earth you can say the stickers are for bus/lorry companies ? perhaps you mean its a get out for them for killing somebody, not even this country's laws are that fickle, its OK for me to run over that cyclist officer, I had a sticker on my bumper ! really !?!

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vbvb [620 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm going to get a tiny triangle for the back of my saddle, so the coaches keep clear.

mikeprytherch wrote:

so I was waiting for a backlash for even suggesting that some of the fault lies with us the cyclist

Calling others God-like, before they'd even read your post, let alone replied, it seems to me you weren't waiting at all, more just going ahead and lashing out yourself. I have a short attention span, completely switched off to any point being made under the weight of your prebuttal rebuttal, sorry.

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Beaufort [270 posts] 2 years ago
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Needs to be much larger and higher up.

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JeevesBath [180 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:

It's funny how we just accept the presence of a vehicle where the driver apparently can't see a dozen people on bikes right next to him/her.

How is that a suitable thing to drive through a busy city?

Because the design follows function, ie moving a large amount of goods around as efficiently as possible. Would you prefer that one large lorry was replaced by fifty smaller vehicles? Where do you do your shopping? How do you think that all that food gets there?
As much as it would be nice to evisage an ideal world, economic reality will always take precedence.

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giff77 [1258 posts] 2 years ago
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The only problem is the sticker is too low. It should be on the top corner of the engine compartment or on the panel above. Size wise it doesn't look any smaller than the circular speed stickers that you see on long vehicles now days. Also it is not as commanding as the TfL ones telling the cyclist to stay back. These particular stickers advise caution and highlight where the danger is.

Only a fool would barrel down the inside of a long vehicle while it was slowly moving or stopped. Our current infrastructure does not help this with the creation of narrow inappropriate cycle lanes encouraging novice cyclists into the ASZ and into a place of danger in doing so. If you are going to pass slow moving traffic do so on the outside with caution if you wish to go ahead or turn right. If turning left sit in traffic.

There is no guarantee that motorists are going to check their near-side mirrors when driving whether they eradicate blind spots or not. And if there is a collision they are going to say they did check!

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Scoob_84 [384 posts] 2 years ago
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If a cyclist needs to rely on a sticker in this day of age to remind/warn them not to go up the inside of a heavy goods vehicle then god help them.

For what its worth, the sticker seems ok to me, hard to comment on the clarity and size of the font when viewing on a video.

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:

GrahamSt... this forum seems full of cyclists who believe that Drivers should be infallible, that is my point about the God Like forum members, I am not infallible and was not trying to suggest anything of the sort, my view goes against most of the posts in this forum in that I do blame cyclists as much as drivers, so I was waiting for a backlash for even suggesting that some of the fault lies with us the cyclist, after all it is a cyclist forum and not MaxPower.

I think most folk in here just want drivers to try a bit harder, or even just to try at all, to drive in a manner that reflects the risk of the kinetic energy they control.

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bambergbike [89 posts] 2 years ago
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As a rough-and-ready solution to the problem of cyclists creeping up on the inside of large vehicles this sticking-plaster has some merit. But what are we going to do to address the equally significant problem of large vehicles creeping up on the outside of cyclists who were there first? Give cyclists similar signs to mount on their rear mudguards? Stop painting kerbside ASL-feeder lanes that encourage cyclists to leave space for a large vehicle on their right which may well be about to turn left across their path?

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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JeevesBath wrote:

Where do you do your shopping? How do you think that all that food gets there?

Other countries seem to manage it. Paris only allows large vehicles to deliver at night (10pm to 7am). Plus France has a ban on any vehicles over 7.5 tonnes on ANY road at weekends and public holidays.

Despite this I haven't noticed the Parisians starving in the streets.

JeevesBath wrote:

As much as it would be nice to envisage an ideal world, economic reality will always take precedence.

Or more bluntly, profits are more important than people.

HGVs only make up four or five percent of the traffic in London, but are involved in 43 percent of fatalities.

In 2011 there were 16 cycling fatalities in London.
In Paris there were ZERO.

Some relevant links:
http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20130619-campaignin...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10464893/Chri...
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2010/nov/18/hgv-city-ba...

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Scoob_84 [384 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

Where do you do your shopping? How do you think that all that food gets there?

Other countries seem to manage it. Paris only allows large vehicles to deliver at night (10pm to 7am). Plus France has a ban on any vehicles over 7.5 tonnes on ANY road at weekends and public holidays.

Despite this I haven't noticed the Parisians starving in the streets.

Inner city Paris doesn't have as many construction projects as London

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Scoob_84 wrote:

Inner city Paris doesn't have as many construction projects as London

Bricks have a pretty good shelf life - they can be delivered at night.

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Scoob_84 [384 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:
Scoob_84 wrote:

Inner city Paris doesn't have as many construction projects as London

Bricks have a pretty good shelf life - they can be delivered at night.

Premixed concrete doesn't.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Scoob_84 wrote:

Premixed concrete doesn't.

And is there are reason that can't be delivered at off-peak times? Or transported in smaller loads? Or mixed on site?

I assume they never use concrete in Paris.
Do they just stick buildings together with ripe Camembert and a gallic shrug?  3

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Scoob_84 [384 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:
Scoob_84 wrote:

Premixed concrete doesn't.

And is there are reason that can't be delivered at off-peak times? Or transported in smaller loads? Or mixed on site?

I assume they never use concrete in Paris.
Do they just stick buildings together with ripe Camembert and a gallic shrug?  3

You know what, it wouldn't surprise me if one or two of them have done!

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JeevesBath [180 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

Where do you do your shopping? How do you think that all that food gets there?

Other countries seem to manage it. Paris only allows large vehicles to deliver at night (10pm to 7am). Plus France has a ban on any vehicles over 7.5 tonnes on ANY road at weekends and public holidays.

Despite this I haven't noticed the Parisians starving in the streets.

JeevesBath wrote:

As much as it would be nice to envisage an ideal world, economic reality will always take precedence.

Or more bluntly, profits are more important than people.

HGVs only make up four or five percent of the traffic in London, but are involved in 43 percent of fatalities.

In 2011 there were 16 cycling fatalities in London.
In Paris there were ZERO.

Some relevant links:
http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20130619-campaignin...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10464893/Chri...
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2010/nov/18/hgv-city-ba...

Well, I don't actually live in London nor do a large number of other cyclists. I would still have to deal with the HGVs where I live, unless you are proposing a blanket ban on HGVs across the entire country at peak times every day (not just 'public holidays').

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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Flying Scot wrote:

Yeah....OK, I hear the comments, but we all still see people who are either foreign, don't drive, or are new/ naive cyclists riding up the inside of long vehicles that are about to turn that I wouldn't and never have.

Sticker isn't absolving blame, just a warning to take care, there isn't a reliable system yet to check the inside on long vehicles yet, when there is, it should be mandatory, until then, drivers will struggle to look in two directions at once.

I was following a guy in today on a London cycleroute (the one that goes West to East along the embankment). It looked like he knew what he was doing for the first 10 minutes, then chaos. He went up the inside of two slow-moving long lorries, both times at a section where the cycle lanes temporarily end when the road gets too narrow (Boris? Boris? Are you there Boris?) Both times he stopped a second before he was squeezed (er... and why did he do it after the first time?). He then proceeded to jumpo two red lights that had cross-traffic coming through them.

All the stickers in the world wouldn't help this guy ... and dedicated cycle lanes would probably mean he takes out other cyclists.

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