A new road safety campaign has been launched in the West Midlands and neighbouring counties that urges motorists to avoid distractions and concentrate on the road to help increase the safety of cyclists.
The campaign, called What Matters Most? and launched by Road Safety GB Mercia with the backing of national cyclists’ charity CTC, includes the deployment of advertising trucks, a website, Facebook page and downloadable posters (available from the Get Involved page of the site), and is aimed at reducing the number of cyclists killed or injured on the region’s roads.
The campaign is being co-ordinated by Stephen Rumble, road safety officer at Warwickshire County Council and himself a cyclist, who says: ”Our initial focus is on educating drivers to appreciate the needs and vulnerability of all cyclists on the road.
“Although we have other ideas for later campaigns, we will start by highlighting how easily people allow themselves to be distracted by things that are much less important than the safety of others.
“Many modern vehicles now have satellite navigation, air conditioning, electronically adjustable settings for everything and an entertainment system as sophisticated as anything at home.
“Add to this a mobile phone, drinks, snacks and other daily paraphernalia in the vehicle and it is hardly surprising that many people are not paying attention to what matters most.
“Drivers are often at fault when involved in a collision with a cyclist and a frequent problem is - simply - a failure to look properly and to plan ahead. Given the relatively greater risk of serious injuries to a cyclist, it is their safety that leads this campaign.”
Road Safety GB Mercia, which covers a dozen local authority areas - Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, plus, in the West Midlands conurbation, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Coventry – is targeting locations and times when it believes cyclists are most at risk.
It says that according to road casualty statistics, those are more likely to take place “on main arterial routes, with 30mph speed limits, in urban environments. They are also more frequent in rush hour traffic, but particularly between 4pm and 8pm on week days.”
As a result, the initiative “will incorporate ad van posters travelling on key routes at busy times, so as to be seen by the maximum number of road users.”
Mr Rumble added: “The website is intended as an information resource and has been created by both cyclists and drivers.
“On the page entitled ‘What cyclists want drivers to know’. . , our aim is to take drivers out of their comfort zone and place them in the saddle . . . just for a moment. Hopefully, this will give a greater appreciation of cycling issues, as well as explaining some of our habits, actions and obligations as fellow road users.
“To ensure that visitors to the website can see a balanced approach to road safety, it will also feature information from drivers for cyclists. More than anything, we just want to highlight that every road user is a person and we are all just trying to get from A to B.”
Professor David Cox, who is Chair of CTC Council and who also chairs the South Birmingham Primary Care Trust, commented: “With an increasing number of cyclists on our roads, it is crucial that drivers see them early, take extra care when passing and remain particularly vigilant at junctions.
“CTC is delighted to be associated with the What Matters Most campaign and hope it will nurture better understanding, highlight cycling issues and ultimately, save lives.”
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.