Graphic which showed 'kill count' similar to those used by WWII fighter pilots showed "lack of taste," say campaigners...

Car rental firm Sixt has come under criticism for an image posted to its Twitter account that makes fun of hitting cyclists.

The post on Sixt Deutschland’s timeline on the social media was removed on Friday after Twitter users complained about it.

The Germany-based company, the market leader in its home market and operating in a number of countries around the world including the UK, has won awards for its advertising on social media.

But dw.com, the English language website of national newspaper Die Welt, reports that the post published on 5 October was criticised for overstepping the mark.

"There's always one friend who overdoes it a bit when driving. We now have a bumper sticker for him," the post said.

Sixt bumper sticker post on Twitter

The accompanying image showed graphics of, respectively, a set of traffic lights, a cyclist and a cat, above each a tally reminiscent of the ‘kill counts’ painted by fighter pilots on their planes during World War II.

Among the complaints in the replies was one from a cycle campaign group based in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin, saying: "This advertisement is a mockery and shows a pure lack of taste for cyclists who have been killed or severely injured by drivers."

Another tweeted a post made by police in Bonn earlier this year about a child who was doored by the driver of a Sixt van who then drove of without checking on their condition.

Official statistics reveal that 382 cyclists were killed in Germany last year, the highest in the EU by some margin.

Partly, that is a factor of the country having the largest population among member states coupled with a relatively high modal share for cycling, which the federal government is determined to increase further.

At 17 per cent, Sixt’s own home city of Munich has the largest modal share for cycling among Germany’s large cities.

As we reported earlier this month, the Bavarian capital has been chosen, alongside Amsterdam and Copenhagen, to mentor 10 other European cities, including Manchester, in how to be more bike-friendly.

> Copenhagen to mentor Manchester on cycling in programme fully-funded by EU

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.