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.
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.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.