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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

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.