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£425,000 to 'get people talking' - mostly about pandering to stereotypes and victim-blaming...

Scotland’s controversial Nice Way Code road safety campaign has ended. The government-sponsored effort to get road users to be nice to each other announced on Facebook yesterday that it was drawing to a close.

The campaign was widely criticised for pandering to stereotypes, victim-blaming, having no clear goals and failing to engage or coordinate with other road safety bodies and initiatives.

Despite repeated requests from cycling campaigners, it never published the research it claimed to have done in the run-up to the campaign, which was widely believed to have been simply focus group sessions.

On its Facebook page Nice Way Code said:

Our posters are now more or less down. Our last press ad has run. We're happy to report that printed supplies of our Nice Way Code are running low. And the slideshare version made it into slideshare's top presentations in the week of our campaign launch.

A big thank you for all of the support we've received from our stakeholders. And a bigger thank you to all of you for your comments, observations and sharing of our messages.

We set out to get people talking about how we can make our roads a safer place for everyone. And we've certainly done that.

Of course, nobody in Scotland was talking about road safety before the NiceWay Code spent £425,000 to get lampooned on Twitter and Facebook, so that was a big victory.

In case you umissed them, here are some of the ads that caused the campaign to be harshly criticised.

 

Cycling campaigners pointed out that horse riders are just as vulnerable as cyclists, with a similar rate of collisions with motor vehicles, and that 95 percent of incidents caused by road users jumping red lights were the fault of a driver not a cyclist.

We could fill a couple of pages with responses and criticisms of the code, but you can see them for yourself on Facebook, so here’s just one drubbing, from Jono Kenyon:

Well, I was patient and waited to see what your material was. Like nearly everyone else I was utterly dismayed at the total lack of thought, care or articulate process in this abysmal campaign. Like so many other failed road safety ideas, all that can be claimed to have been achieved is 'to get people talking'. Well that's not good enough. You had a brief and getting folk discussing safety was not it. Making our streets safer and reducing danger was. Glad to see the end of this charade.

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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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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"We set out to get people talking about how we can make our roads a safer place for everyone. And we've certainly done that." - Defiant in the face of the truth to the end about a seemingly wishy washy "campaign".

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GREGJONES [296 posts] 3 years ago
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I really don't see what the problem is. Those posters/adverts seem faily innocuous to me. I get the impression that some cyclists are a little too sensitive, and nothing would please them.

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dave2041 [22 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder how the £425,000 could have been better spent. Seems a large sum to me.

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andyspaceman [251 posts] 3 years ago
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Did they ever set or publish any tangible targets?

I would expect there to be a baselining and then subsequent measurements of progress against metrics such as 'number of road traffic accidents involving cyclists, per cycle journey made'.

By the sound of it, I'm guessing that didn't happen.

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Alankk [152 posts] 3 years ago
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Did anyone see the white taxis that were covered by 'the nice way code', oh it made me chuckle. In sadness.

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OldMarin [1 post] 3 years ago
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Like some others, not sure what the problem is with this. Yes, the posters seemed a little smug and airy fairy, but they certainly drew attention, and I can't think of anything in them I disagreed with. They simply seem to advocate a bit of consideration, thought, and defensive driving/cycling on the part of all road users. Some people, whether in cars or on bikes, seem to think the road is theirs alone and whatever they do is justified while veryone else is an a*sehole. And £425K is a drop in the ocean - I think it is actually money reasonably well spent.

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John G [57 posts] 3 years ago
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Easy: £325k for the Chief Exec and the rest of the money goes to the minions ...

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I really don't see what the problem is. Those posters/adverts seem faily innocuous to me. I get the impression that some cyclists are a little too sensitive, and nothing would please them.

ROI, you spend that sort of money, you set a goal, you define a result, and you publish the outcome.

Anyone can piss money up a wall, but with that sort of sum you can actually do quite a lot.

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colinth [191 posts] 3 years ago
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Seem to have a knack for wasting money on pointless campaign north of the border. A couple of years ago they paid an agency £125k to come up with a slogan for the country, the result ? "Welcome to Scotland"

Good luck with independance

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Bez [608 posts] 3 years ago
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"Did they ever set or publish any tangible targets?"

Not as far as I've been able to discern. There was a claim made in a comment on https://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/the-car-and-the-kitten/ that some data and KPIs existed, but neither ever materialised.

All the information I saw seemed to suggest that the campaign had been based on two focus groups and no data. It seems pretty clear there never was any metric based on actual road safety. Nor does there seem to be any evidence that there was even a metric based on public opinions towards either safety or other road users.

Maybe those things never existed, or maybe they did but the team simply decided early on to let the whole thing sink with as little trace as possible rather than to change course. The only valedictory message they seem to have posted online is this one on Facebook: nothing on Twitter, and nothing on their own website. Just one damp squib of a sign-off, one mad message desperately hoping that someone will be pleased with the lie that what they really set out to do was to spend £424,000 making everyone hate them.

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zanf [920 posts] 3 years ago
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With it being a government funded project, is it not subject to FoI, and so all spending costs should be open to examination?

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a_to_the_j [118 posts] 3 years ago
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big big depressed sigh. thats all i can muster at the moment.

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crazy-legs [870 posts] 3 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I really don't see what the problem is. Those posters/adverts seem faily innocuous to me. I get the impression that some cyclists are a little too sensitive, and nothing would please them.

Point is, if you're going to run an advertising campaign about road safety, you set out exactly what your plans are - where we are at the moment, what you want to achieve, how you're going to achieve it and then you measure the success or failure of that based on some existing parameter.

They've done none of this. A couple of loose focus groups (where people will have said "oh, those bloody cyclist jumping red lights") and they've paraded a set of adverts that were at best patronising, at worst actually confusing and dangerous...
have a read of this excellent blog to see why:
http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/the-back-end-of-a-bus/
looking in particular at the photo in there.

£425,000 buys a lot of pothole fixing. A lot of police officers to actually enforce traffic law. It would buy an education campaign in local schools.

But no, it's been pissed up against a wall on a patronising, victim-blaming campaign that pandered to existing stereotypes (eg all cyclists jump red lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V37xHRA4C0#t=12 ) and has zero accountability in terms of measuring its impact.

Total waste of money.

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Leviathan [2598 posts] 3 years ago
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Don't worry, Scottish ministers will find something else to waste money on. They are now planning an Olympic team for Rio 2016 before they have even won independence, which they won't.

One year to go.

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AndyRaff [8 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder if the proposed Olympic team will be similar to the existing Commonwealth team.  39

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Dave42W [49 posts] 3 years ago
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For those who didn't see anything wrong with the campaign here are some comments I sent to Sustrans:

I am sorry but to me this campaign is a disaster, the messages actually make things much worse for cyclists.

a) The message about red light jumping reinforces the incorrect stereotype that all cyclists jump lights, it fails to challenge drivers who jump red lights. It ignores the fact that cyclists rarely injure or kill anyone by red light jumping unlike drivers. It also ignores the studies from London which indicated that red light jumping may in fact reduce risk for cyclists.

b) The message about riding on the pavement ignores shared space and ignores the elephant in the room about why someone might ride on the pavement, namely that the roads are felt to be far too dangerous.

c) The message about overtaking buses is dangerous rubbish. I am appalled that Sustrans is supporting anything based on John Franklin's discredited views (that for example completely ignore the vast majority of cyclists who cannot ride at the speeds he suggests are needed). Use of any cycle infrastructure in the UK will put people in a position to overtake buses on the inside. This advert makes it look like a cyclist who is obeying the law and safely using cycle infrastructure is in fact a law breaking idiot. This will only increase resentful attitudes to cyclists.

d) The message about treating cyclists like horses is absolutely the opposite of what is needed! We need to be seen as people, as part of families, as parents, as someone's child. Instead of making cyclists more human, more like us it dehumanises us. This reinforces many drivers view that cyclists don't matter and don't count.

How can a campaign with so many completely anti cyclists messages be funded out of a budget for sustainable transport? No wonder organisations for drivers were willing to support it and what a disaster that Sustrans and the CTC let their names be associated with it.

There can be little hope that a campaign as bad as this can possibly get people to think differently in any positive way towards cycling.

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GavinT [82 posts] 3 years ago
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Where on the 'running reds' poster does it indicate that it's only aimed at cyclists?

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dave atkinson [6301 posts] 3 years ago
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GavinT wrote:

Where on the 'running reds' poster does it indicate that it's only aimed at cyclists?

you haven't watched the tv ad then, no?

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giff77 [1263 posts] 3 years ago
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Well it doesn't seem to have made any difference. Still getting cut up by motorists wanting to make a turn, punishment passes, random u-turns as well as the classic shooting out from a side street.

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Bez [608 posts] 3 years ago
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GavinT wrote:

Where on the 'running reds' poster does it indicate that it's only aimed at cyclists?

That's just a crop of the poster. The full version is here:

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/onlinebooklet-130805020529-phpapp02/95/sl...

As for the TV ad:

http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/the-horse-and-the-python/