"Don't be a stupid twat", says new 'safety campaign'

London ad firm launches website and puts up helpful signs; all PR is good PR, right?

by Dave Atkinson   November 12, 2012  

ridesmart

Everyone seems to be talking about cycle safety right now, what with the injuries to both Bradley Wiggins and Shane Sutton over the past week. But London-based ad firm Karmarama have taken it upon themselves to solve the problem with a simple message: Don't be a stupid twat.

Because apparently, that's the root of the problem. "Every year in this country there are around 19,000 reported cycling accidents on our roads, and on average 3,000 cyclists who are killed or seriously injured," their website, www.ride-smart.org, states. No argument there, it's a sobering statistic.

"Cyclists riding like stupid twats cause a percentage of these accidents so lots of accidents, injuries and deaths could therefore be avoided," it then goes on to say. And helpfully lists the most twattish things you can apparently do, which in order of twattishness are jumping red lights, cycling with headphones, not having lights at night and just "being stupid".

As well as their website, which loops videos of daft and dangerous behaviour by various riders, Karmarama have helpfully put up signs around London with limericks describing the deaths of fictional cyclists due to their behaviour.

There's so much wrong with this approach it's difficult to know where to start. But we have to start somewhere, so let's start with the fact that it's a huge exercise in victim blaming. The campaign links actual scenarios where cyclists are being killed – mostly it talks about being hit by lorries – directly with rider behaviour, and at no point talks about the responsibilities of other road users, as if it's rider behaviour that's the sole issue.

It's not. Analysis of the causes of collisions resulting in death or serious injury to cyclists shows that one in four accidents resulting in death or serious injury to a cyclist are due to the cyclist being struck from behind. The top bugbear on Ride Smart's list, red light jumping, accounts for just 2% of injuries.

Chris Peck of CTC told The Guardian at the time of the above report: “The main cause of crashes seems to be 'failed to look properly', whereas very few cyclists are injured or killed acting illegally, such as failing to use lights at night or disobeying traffic signals. We believe that the government should now focus on tackling the causes of injury which appears to be mainly inconsiderate and dangerous driving. Reduced speed limits, stronger traffic law enforcement and cycle-friendly road design are the solutions."

The campaign, if we can call it that, is also massively divisive in that it works to reinforce the prejudices that many people have – including, we'd suggest, the people that cause most danger to cyclists – about the behaviour of bike riders. The more people that think that deaths of cyclists on the road are due to simple twattery on the part of those killed, the less likely they are to look at their own behaviour. That's not good.

There's so much more, but we'll sign off with a quick note that any campaign based largely around limericks should probably employ a copywriter that can do good ones. And leave the last word to Mark Ames from top London cycling blog ibikelondon, who said of the campaign, ""The message that all road users should take care is no bad thing, but this 'campaign' – which has been seemingly dreamt up by the advertising agency Karmarama - is so uncomfortably ill-thought out, ham-fisted and juvenile it leaves one wondering if they left the work experience kids in charge of the 'Publish' button?

"It wouldn't be so bad if it existed only online but the installation of these badly written limerick signs in public spaces serves not only to perpetuate the myth that cyclists are responsible for their own demise, but also could cause genuine distress to those of us who have witnessed real cycling crashes on London's dangerous roads and who might come across these by accident. If I was an advertiser I'd be checking my brand was safe in the hands of Karmarama if this is the best they can come up with. On the other hand if this is supposed to be some kind of not so clever stunt then sadly, in the week that the 12th cyclist to die in London in 2012 passed away, it's just not terribly funny."

Karmarama, who have so far been likened to Nathan Barley and fictional Twenty Twelve PR firm Perfect Curve by the bike congnoscenti, have a mantra: Work hard, Be nice to people, Play ping pong. This phoned-in and frankly ridiculous publicity stunt seems to fail on all three counts... unless they were playing ping pong when they dreamed it up, that is. We wouldn't put it past them.

Karmarama limerick competition

Write a limerick detailing what you think of the campaign and stick it in a comment below. A pair of socks to the winner! We'll judge it when the fuss has died down.

76 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

spen wrote:
Notice that they've had to take a video by CycleMickey down for copy right infringnment. As most of the fotage seems to have seen on Silly Cyclists perhaps CyclingGaz could notify the other and encourage them to do the same. And just what is the relevance of a Dutch video?

Notified Premises187 who's had at least one of his video's used. He's a funny motor-biker Wink

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8705 posts]
12th November 2012 - 22:46

like this
Like (5)

website is down - but there is always the cached pages! http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:bfV8m-kpT28J:ride-s...

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [154 posts]
12th November 2012 - 22:49

like this
Like (5)

Rvizzle wrote:
Karmarama recently moved from Kensington to Farringdon. Many of their employees are cyclists (there was always loads of bikes in their yard). Surely the chance of getitng run over was worse out West? Their PR arm, Cream is respectable too, so I really don't understand this move. A misjudged move from an otherwise creditable agency; hopefully a one-off. Someone has funded it at the end of the day, so would like to understand who that was.

There is, by their very nature, no such thing as a creditable advertising agency.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
12th November 2012 - 22:49

like this
Like (7)

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [154 posts]
12th November 2012 - 22:52

like this
Like (6)

In the battle between car and bike,
Karmararma gave invective a hike.
Their position was shameless -
"The car driver is blameless".
Twats? Check the mirror, more like.

neildmoss's picture

posted by neildmoss [182 posts]
12th November 2012 - 22:56

like this
Like (7)

neildmoss wrote:
In the battle between car and bike,
Karmararma gave invective a hike.
Their position was shameless -
"The car driver is blameless".
Twats? Check the mirror, more like.

where's the like button when you need it

posted by Rvizzle [97 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:00

like this
Like (6)

There was and agency called Karmarama
who wanted to get on strava
but their red light rhyme was crap
So they were left off the map
and now they're working somewhere in Navarda

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:02

like this
Like (6)

I reckon these signs will make a great joke memento in a garage or bike shed, must remember to 'pick one up' next time I'm in London..

(..which most of the time is when I'm working with a graphic/branding agency who are too good at what they do and in tune with the cycling world to come up with something like this!)

posted by james-o [188 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:20

like this
Like (3)

Cyclegaz has no video's up there, just Premises187 and SonOfTheWinds left and if they report the copyright, the youtube account will be closed aswell Wink

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8705 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:22

like this
Like (5)

wearing headphones is the least likely cause of a splat
but some advertising guy put up a sign calling me a twat
think i'll shove his ping pong ball up his arse for that

posted by antigee [144 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:35

like this
Like (6)

Site's gone now. Chalk another one up to outraged Twitter users.

posted by Mr Agreeable [132 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:35

like this
Like (6)

More copyright's have been filed with youtube, Don't expect the account to be around for long.

Mess with cyclist's and lose your whole account and your website Wink

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8705 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:38

like this
Like (6)

Rvizzle wrote:
neildmoss wrote:
In the battle between car and bike,
Karmararma gave invective a hike.
Their position was shameless -
"The car driver is blameless".
Twats? Check the mirror, more like.

where's the like button when you need it

I'll second that Wink

posted by Bird On A Bike [8 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:43

like this
Like (6)

There once was a prat named CHRIS,
who decided to take the MICHAEL,
his victim blaming site, karmarama,
has a caused a cycling drama

http://wheelspedalsperson.posterous.com/not-that-smart

posted by sfichele [96 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:52

like this
Like (5)

Traffic Droid aka SonOfTheWinds has this to say on it

Quote:
There is a Rate of £10k a day ..if unsettled this will be submitted and county Court Judgement levied.

https://twitter.com/SonOfTheWinds/status/268121945504104449

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8705 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:53

like this
Like (6)

"A pact with the devil was made"
Karmarama told Hickling and Slade.
"No one cares when they cycle"
Said Dunning to Michael,
"Steal content. Abuse them. Get paid!"

posted by Fifth Gear [6 posts]
12th November 2012 - 23:55

like this
Like (4)

A group of new media muckery
with master degrees in dumb-f*ckery
blamed cyclists for their bad luckery
well f*ck 'em and their coke-snorting w@nkery

Seriously though, I would like to know who's funded/commissioned this - that could be very revealing.

Also, some riders do behave like twats - if we sit here and try and defend the idiots we'll be on a hiding to nothing.

Oh, and they can be contacted using the form at:
http://www.karmarama.com/#/contact

Perhaps you would like to explain some things to them...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [2976 posts]
13th November 2012 - 0:04

like this
Like (6)

A dangerous company! Lets hope they go under; before they do some serious damage!

Before anyone says : But the work force will all lose their jobs! WELL TOUGH.

posted by Mostyn [400 posts]
13th November 2012 - 0:12

like this
Like (6)

Bad Karma

posted by amundsen [9 posts]
13th November 2012 - 1:01

like this
Like (6)

The UCI was very upset
No one was believing as yet
so plan they did hatch
bike riders minds to snatch
but Karmarama only caused regret

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
13th November 2012 - 1:23

like this
Like (6)

Ad boy Karmarama ran a campaign,
Intelligent comment would've been a real pain,
So instead of checking facts,
They just called us all twats,
That's just pathetic and lame! Surprise

Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race - H.G. Wells

posted by roghino [2 posts]
13th November 2012 - 2:32

like this
Like (5)

In view of developments -

Karmarama decided to try,
To help stop our cyclists die,
Dreamt up a campaign,
Did not engage brain,
Said sorry and ate humble pie.

awkward's picture

posted by awkward [62 posts]
13th November 2012 - 9:47

like this
Like (5)

Cars and lorry's (sic) are made of metal

Couldn't even be bothered to proof read it?

phy2sll's picture

posted by phy2sll [26 posts]
13th November 2012 - 10:24

like this
Like (8)

When Shoreditch became self-aware,
Some tarts began feigning to care,
About deaths on the road,
Through all media nodes,
To people with an understanding of the empirical evidence pertaining to collisions resulting in serious injury or death it was quite unfair.

posted by trebblieg [1 posts]
13th November 2012 - 10:51

like this
Like (4)

No limerick I'm afraid. I just want to know who is funding this campaign? I think it unlikely that Karmarama are paying for it themselves.

Watdabni

posted by John Lavery l [2 posts]
13th November 2012 - 11:40

like this
Like (4)

Karmarama specialise in PR,
Give priority to people in their car,
They really dont like,
People who ride a bike,
They've got the worst reputation by far.

Wink

Starley JKS R1

posted by dlparr [8 posts]
13th November 2012 - 13:04

like this
Like (4)

Maybe we could have versions of Radiohead's "Karma Police" too.

Karmarama? Arrest this man
He talks in rhymes
Pity they don't scan...

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [131 posts]
13th November 2012 - 13:15

like this
Like (4)

The word twat: It is a vulgar synonym for the human vulva.

Stupid Cant's

Totally unacceptable on any level

lifes goal is not to arrive at the grave in a perfectly preserved body, but to skid in sideways yelling "yeah what a ride!"

posted by wheelsucker [42 posts]
13th November 2012 - 20:42

like this
Like (5)

Of course, we can always make a complaint that these signs are insulting under the Public Order Act. After all, nearly everyone else uses it.

(Yes, I know - it wasn't five lines and it doesn't rhyme - I have a BSc not a BA...)

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [278 posts]
14th November 2012 - 0:47

like this
Like (6)

der der derderder der der derderder
der der derderder der der derderder
der der derderder
der der derderder
It was irony but the twats didn't get it.

posted by shockleader [20 posts]
20th November 2012 - 17:53

like this
Like (6)