A city in the United States is promoting cycle safety to children through a series of short graphic novels – and ‘graphic’ is the right word, given the content.
Commissioned by Phoenix, Arizona’s Street Transportation Department, the artwork leaves little to the imagination, with the six titles each focusing on one potential hazard for children on bikes.
Those topics include advice to wear a helmet, not ride in the blind spots of large vehicles or jump red lights, and to avoid the ‘door zone.’
Each graphic novel - you can find them all here - also includes tips on how to do safety checks on a bike and for safe riding.
Given out at cycle safety events at schools and elsewhere, they’re the work of illustrator Rob Osborne, who told AZ Central that his aim was to shock to reinforce the points being made – including, in one strip, a youngster who ignore a ‘Stop’ sign getting killed.
He says he has little in the way of negative feedback.
But Nichole Schaffer, mother of a nine-year-old girl who was given one of the novels at a cycle safety event at her school, said: "I thought, 'This can't be real’." She said the content had "freaked out" her daughter,” and added that "It looks like something out of a horror movie."
Monica Hernandez, spokeswoman for the Street Transportation Department, said: "There's nothing comical about this. This is serious."
The city is now working on a new campaign aimed at children from kindergarten age, and again Osborne will provide the illustration, although he said, "I suspect we won't be as over the top."
According to local news reports, two cyclists have lost their lives in Phoenix within the past month, both victims of hit-and-run drivers.
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.