The Department for Transport (DfT) has said it has “no plans to withdraw” its controversial ‘Hang Back’ cycle safety video which was widely criticised by cycling campaigners when it was launched last week, despite a call from Cycling UK to withdraw it.
The charity, which has accused the DfT of “victim blaming” through the film, last week wrote to transport minister Andrew Jones to call for it to be pulled and to urge the department to work alongside cycling campaigners on safety messages, but its appeal has been rebuffed.
It said that DfT officials this week told it: “The level of criticism is unfortunate, however we have no plans to withdraw the video.”
The film seeks to warn cyclists about the danger posed by a lorry turning left – although the footage appears to show the vehicle’s driver overtaking the rider shortly before a junction, giving him no choice but to be caught on the inside of the vehicle.
The segment with the lorry is preceded by a montage showing a piano being dropped as well as slapstick scenes from films and cartoons, which led British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman of accusing the DfT of trying to make “entertainment out of death.”
Cycling UK, which says that the “real problem” lies in dangerous lorries that have blind spots, is now urging cyclists to contact the minister and DfT to continue to press for the video to be axed.
The organisation’s senior road safety and legal campaigns manager, Duncan Dollimore, said: “Cycling UK is urging Andrew Jones and the team behind their dreadful ‘Hang Back’ initiative to Think! again, and to stop blaming the victims of these tragic collisions where cyclists have been killed by lorries.
“Think! does not tell people to avoid the roads because of the danger drunk drivers pose to others, so why is it now trivialising the victims of lorry collisions when we know lorries are a problem and have massive blind spots?
“National government’s regressive attitude is in stark contrast to the capital, which last Friday announced how it will address the disproportionate problem of lorry related cycle deaths.”
Making reference to plans unveiled in the capital to remove dangerous HGVs from the city’s streets, he added: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan isn’t blaming the victim, but driving unsafe lorries off his roads and promoting safer design.
“Hopefully government will learn from London and follow suit.
“I’d urge everyone who is equally disgusted by this Think! campaign to write to the Minister asking him to withdraw this campaign, which they can do via the Cycling UK website.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.