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Campaign reminds drivers to be careful around cyclists, but do they drive better?

The Department for Transport (TfL) has extended its THINK! Cycling campaign for 2015 to an additional seven cities despite a report last year finding drivers said it had minimal effect on their behaviour.

An evaluation of the THINK! Cycling safety tips campaign found that there had been "very little change on claimed driving behaviours for drivers" after the 2013 and 2014 editions of the campaign.

Nevertheless, the campaign will continue this year in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds and Manchester, the cities where the DfT says statistics show the highest rates of traffic collisions involving cyclists compared to the population.

And despite its minimal impact on driver behavior, THINK! Cycling will be extended to include Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Kingston upon Hull, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Southampton, which the DfT says also have  high cyclist casualty figures.

Robert Goodwill, the DfT minister responsible for cycling said: "We have some of the safest roads in the world but one cyclist’s death is one too many and we are determined to make our roads safer.

"This poster campaign will build on the success of last year’s work to remind drivers to take care around cyclists and remind cyclists of the actions they can take to stay safe on the road. This message is especially important as the weather improves and more people take to their bikes."

The "success" Goodwill refers to is the DfT's claim that: "Analysis of last year’s campaign showed that more than three quarters of drivers agreed the adverts reminded them about the importance of looking out for cyclists." Being reminded, however, is not the same as actualy changing behaviour.

As well as the poster campaign, the THINK! Cycling website offers twelve safety tips, six apiece for driving and cycling:

THINK! advice for when you're driving

  1. Look out for cyclists, especially when turning - make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them
  2. Use your indicators - signal your intentions so that cyclists can react
  3. Give cyclists plenty of space when over taking them, leaving as much room as you would give a car. If there isn’t sufficient space to pass, hold back. Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened
  4. Always check for cyclists when you open your car door
  5. Advanced stop lines allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility. You must stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows
  6. Follow the Highway Code including ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights

THINK! advice for when you're cycling

  1. Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb – look and signal to show drivers what you plan to do and make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you
  2. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  3. Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  4. Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility
  5. Follow the Highway Code including observing ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights
  6. THINK! recommends wearing a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations

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.

20 comments

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gazza_d [472 posts] 2 years ago
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It doesn't work, but it's cheap and easy do we'll do it anyway over stuff that does work. FFS

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georgee [182 posts] 2 years ago
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As a cyclist and a driver i've seen nothing of this even though working and living in London. In that sense it seems to be another miserable failure by TfL and the DofT.

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ron611087 [358 posts] 2 years ago
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Think! is exactly what TfL has failed miserably to do.

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therealsmallboy [169 posts] 2 years ago
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Why don't they roll this out into schools? Teach kids the way to behave before they start using our roads regularly and eventually they'll all (mostly). Rather than trying to re-educate those already set firmly in their ways.

I learned 'stop,look, listen' at school and am fairly sure I do it without thinking before crossing roads now as an adult. You never know, it might even lead to kids saying to their parents 'watch out for the cyclists' when they're being driven.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 2 years ago
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The only places I can remember seeing these (besides the news stories about them) is in bus shelters. Because that makes a lot of sense, bus passengers need educating!

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congokid [325 posts] 2 years ago
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"We are determined to make our roads safer"...

... by trying something that has already been proven to have no effect whatsoever.

At least in this case, some evaluation was actually done, rather than the usual outcome in which the campaign is immediately forgotten as if it never happened. [[edit - it's an 'awareness' campaign, and the 'evaluation' part involved asking drivers and cyclists their opinions in what appears to be an online self-selecting survey. No hard data was collected or crunched - so it's nothing more than a very dodgy opinion survey]].

Unfortunately, the intention is to plough on regardless of any learnings, good or bad, that might have been made and continue to throw good money after bad.

You couldn't make it up...

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mtm_01 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters.

As far as I can work out being on the inside of this sort of vehicle as it turns left seems to account for most of the cyclist fatalities in the UK.

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Kim [250 posts] 2 years ago
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More public money wasted, why oh why do they insist on repeating failure?

The law is a more effective way of changing behaviour, especially when it is enforced. Look at the "bag tax", years of telling people they should use few plastic bags had no effect, make retailers charge 5p for a bag, and usage drops dramatically.

We could make our roads saver by introducing Presumed Liability we could make it clear that drivers have a responsibility to other road users. By making it very clear that if you are in control of a motor vehicle and you collide with a non-motorised road users, you (or rather your insurance company) will have to pay compensation (unless you can prove negligence on the part of the third party), would be far more effective than just another ad campaign.

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brooksby [2694 posts] 2 years ago
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Didn't someone define 'insanity' as doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result?

Why bother with this? I appreciate it's well meaning and (presumably) cheap, but their own analysis says that it makes no difference whatsoever.

Very few motorists actively intend to endanger the lives of other road users. But recent surveys appear to show that motorists continue with their bad behaviour simply because they know that they have an almost zero chance of actually being caught out on it.

What we need is more police, and more enforcement of the rules. Not 'being nice'. Not 'sharing the love'. Just enforcement of the rules of the road that we already have.

(As an aside, I see that another study has been published today which claims that 'property crime' (burglary and theft) have been almost normalised to the same degree that vehicular crimes have, and for the same stated reason - not enough police).

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Kim [250 posts] 2 years ago
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Kim [250 posts] 2 years ago
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mtm_01 wrote:

Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters.

As far as I can work out being on the inside of this sort of vehicle as it turns left seems to account for most of the cyclist fatalities in the UK.

Do you really believe that? Really? The majority of these fatalities are caused by the drivers HGVs with big blind spots overtaking cyclists, then turning left on top of them. This happened to a friend of mine, he survived with a smashed hip and now walks with a limp. There is no way that he would have attempted to filter through traffic, he just was that sort of rider.

It has also happened to pedestrians who have been walking near junctions where HGVs have been turning.

Please stop blaming the victims!

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felixcat [486 posts] 2 years ago
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mtm_01 wrote:

Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters.

As far as I can work out being on the inside of this sort of vehicle as it turns left seems to account for most of the cyclist fatalities in the UK.

How have you attempted to work this out? Or is it just your general impression, which is subject to confirmation bias.

From a report on this site.

"Bike riders tearing through red lights, wearing dark clothing or riding at night without lights are to blame for less than 7% of accidents that result in a cyclist being seriously injured, according to research commissioned by the Department for Transport.

The study, carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory – which has also published a report on helmet-wearing that we have covered separately today – found that one in four accidents resulting in death or serious injury to a cyclist was due to the bicycle being struck by a vehicle from behind.

Meanwhile, according to police reports studied as part of the research, wearing dark clothing at night was thought to be a possible cause of just 2.5% of accidents resulting in serious injury to the cyclist, with not using lights or jumping red lights each blamed in 2% of cases. Those percentages rose slightly in instances when the cyclist was killed, although in those circumstances police could only rely on evidence from the driver and other witnesses.

The report’s findings show clearly that far from being the danger to other road users that certain elements of the media have portrayed them as in recent months, cyclists are themselves put at risk by the actions of motorists, with the police attributing blame to the driver in up to three quarters of collisions between a bicycle and other vehicle in accidents involving adult bike riders."

http://road.cc/content/news/83104-two-thirds-cyclist-injuries-following-...

So, a more systematic study shows that you are completely wrong.

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HarrogateSpa [500 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters

This is an unpleasant comment - it's very similar to one you might see under a story in the national press, but with a little less revelling in the imagined death or injury of the victim.

Personally, I don't filter on the left, even though at a lot of Advanced Stop Zones, the intention of the infrastructure is for cyclists to filter on the left through to the box.

I agree it can be dangerous, but I don't think it's the cause of most injuries and deaths, and I don't think blaming the victims is the best way to make cyclists safer on our roads.

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mtm_01 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:
Quote:

Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters

This is an unpleasant comment - it's very similar to one you might see under a story in the national press, but with a little less revelling in the imagined death or injury of the victim.

It's meant in an educational passing on knowledge way rather than revelling in misfortune.

Passing on the left is inherently dangerous because it's unexpected to all road users. Passing on the left in the lead up to and at bus stops, junctions, traffic lights etc. which I see a lot of in Birmingham is a definite rider error and needs a calm correction.

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mtm_01 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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felixcat wrote:
mtm_01 wrote:

Think quietly telling all riders you see going up the inside of HGVs and buses that they'll end up squished and dead if they keep doing it will help more than bus stop posters.

As far as I can work out being on the inside of this sort of vehicle as it turns left seems to account for most of the cyclist fatalities in the UK.

So, a more systematic study shows that you are completely wrong.

Almost none of those statistics counter what I said, just that other instances account for other percentages of incidents.

If one in four fatalities/serious injuries come from behind, then 75% don't come from behind, would imagine side impact is most common.

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felixcat [486 posts] 2 years ago
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Here is your original comment.

mtm_01 wrote:

As far as I can work out being on the inside of this sort of vehicle as it turns left seems to account for most of the cyclist fatalities in the UK.

I ask again, how do you work this out?
Do you imagine that the Met forgot to include in their report the more than half (i.e.most) of the cycling serious accidents which had this cause?

Here is another study which might be a bit more accurate than your "working out".

http://road.cc/content/news/83104-two-thirds-cyclist-injuries-following-...

"The City of Westminster has revealed that more than two thirds of collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists within its boundaries in the past year that resulted in injury to the rider were due to some factor associated with the driver, compared to one in five cases where the cause was attributed to the rider. It has also disclosed that in three in five incidents involving a cyclist and a pedestrian, it’s the latter to whom responsibility is apportioned."

They attribute one in five cyclist/motor collisions to the cyclist. That is, even if every such collision was down to the cyclist riding up the inside, that cause is still a long way short of your "most". Of course cyclists make other mistakes too, but only twenty percent of accidents are the cyclist's fault, in total.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
~ Albert Einstein

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antigee [451 posts] 2 years ago
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my reading of the report concluded that the campaign had a very very limited impact on changing driver attitudes and behaviour but was marginally successful at encouraging cyclists to claim the lane on narrower roads and relatively successful at encouraging cyclists to stop at red traffic lights

so other than encouraging a small percentage of cyclists to position themselves safely in traffic the campaign contributes zero to safer road conditions for cyclists

Robert Goodwill, the DfT minister responsible for cycling said: "We have some of the safest roads in the world but one cyclist’s death is one too many and we are determined to make our roads safer.

How? because this relatively inexpensive campaign does nothing - just cheap window dressing

Th UK does have some of the safest roads in the world, but be honest that isn't actually a tough call in a developed country when road spend is heavily skewed to protecting the occupants of vehicles from the consequences of their actions and vehicle safety is all about protecting occupants

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Alan Tullett [1570 posts] 2 years ago
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therealsmallboy wrote:

Why don't they roll this out into schools? Teach kids the way to behave before they start using our roads regularly and eventually they'll all (mostly). Rather than trying to re-educate those already set firmly in their ways.

I learned 'stop,look, listen' at school and am fairly sure I do it without thinking before crossing roads now as an adult. You never know, it might even lead to kids saying to their parents 'watch out for the cyclists' when they're being driven.

Bikeability is taught in most schools now and the cycling part would certainly include all the points made plus practice in dealing with all manoeuvres at junctions, the Highway Code etc.

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Dave42W [49 posts] 2 years ago
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I really wish we could change this language that is in the highway code:

"Give cyclists plenty of space when over taking them, leaving as much room as you would give a car."

It is not understood correctly. Drivers frequently pass other cars with only inches clear (otherwise you just could not get past the parked cars).

We need a distance eg 1.5m