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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

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.