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Car hire company back-pedals after being slammed in social media

Car hire company Europcar has come under fire for fixing stickers on some vehicles warning pedestrians and cyclists to keep clear.

The stickers were pointed out on Twitter yesterday:

A storm of criticism followed as people asked what the stickers were intended to achieve and a seemingly rather bemused social media person at Europcar failed to take the issue seriously enough.

In a now deleted tweet, Europcar replied:

As you can imagine, that really didn't help. Lizzie Reather of Leeds Cycling Campaign responded and got this reply:

Other tweeters pointed out that the stickers can be considered victim-blaming; that it's legally the responsibility of the person opening the door to look out for other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists; and that the sticker alerting pedestrians was on a sliding door anyway, so there was no danger to warn about.

Europcar sponsors the French cycling team of the same name, which might account for some of the outrage, and eventually Europcar played the sponsored team card:

They also tried one of those 'sorry not sorry' apologies:

The stickers in question are not original to Europcar. They are sold by the Road Haulage Association and like Transport for London's notorious 'Stay Back' stickers appear to be intended to warn against the blind spot issues of large vehicles.

TfL's stickers are now being replaced after representations from cycling campaign groups.

Rather than selling stickers, the other major lorry lobby organisation, the Freight Transport Association, sells educational cards with bullet-point reminders to drivers of how they should behave around cyclists. Perhaps Europcar should get a few of those and give them to customers.

Update: Europcar says it didn't put the stickers on the van

Europcar's Twitter account went quite for five hours or so today. When it returned, it was to post this:

and shortly afterwards, this

It's all a bit odd after the Europcar Twitter account had previously vigorously defended the stickers:

(Hat-tip to Bez for grabbing all those tweets.) 

We have contacted Europcar for comment.

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.