Cycling: Safety

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 12 December 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider withdrawing the latest THINK video, which warns cyclists about the dangers of left-turning lorries, and replace it with a video warning lorry drivers not to overtake cyclists and to hang back instead of turning left across them.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The THINK! cycle safety campaign ended on 23 October 2016 and we have ceased promoting the ‘Things you shouldn’t get caught between’ film.

The aim of the film and wider THINK! campaign is to cut road casualties. Our goal is to make sure that all road users take responsibility for their own safety. The film was just one element of a wider campaign aimed at cyclists, HGV drivers and motorists.

The film showed a cyclist undertaking a lorry to highlight the danger of getting caught between a lorry and a left turn. It was developed after research showed that 35% of people who ride bikes thought it was not at all or only a little dangerous to position yourself to the front left of an HGV – an area where 94% of cyclist fatalities happen.

The message for cyclists to ‘hang back’ refers to a very specific manoeuvre when a lorry ahead is turning left – an area where a third of collisions between HGVs and cyclists happen. It provided simple advice to help cyclists avoid finding themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. It also showed that even if a cyclist feels safe to undertake, a driver might make an error that could cause potentially fatal consequences.

To ensure we deliver the best value for money, we use specific communication channels to target different audiences with different messages.

We worked closely with the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Transport for London, and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to target HGV drivers, and advise them on what steps they need to take to avoid a collision with a cyclist. This included messages such as taking extra time to look out for cyclists and giving cyclist space at junctions. For motorists, we developed a series of tips about what drivers can do to look out for cyclists.

Highlighting the dangers of left turning vehicles is an important issue to communicate. The campaign generated national media coverage and wide spread debate about the issue – among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The number of cyclists killed on our roads has fallen to its lowest level on record. But we can never be complacent. THINK! has a responsibility to look at how we can influence behaviour to help bring casualty figures down further. Any death is a tragedy and if a death can be prevented by raising awareness of this key issue we stand by our decision to do so.

An independent research agency will review the impact of the campaign on people’s attitudes and claimed behaviour. We will use this, and the feedback we have received to inform future campaign activity.

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Chris Beazer
Posted on 13 Dec 2016 12:25 pm (Report this annotation)

Cyclists tend to find themselves "positioned to the front left of an HGV" by being overtaken by that vehicle. Drivers of such vehicles have a duty of care towards vulnerable road users and, as such vehicles seem to have many blind spots, the driver should be the one who the onus is on to avoid a collision. The campaign was a prime example of blaming the victim.

Jonathan Bound
Posted on 13 Dec 2016 9:15 pm (Report this annotation)

Look at the shape of an ASL at a junction and then compare with the blindspot of an HGV. Notice anything? Inexperienced cyclists are instructed by road markings to put themselves in the most dangerous position.

Andrew Avis
Posted on 13 Dec 2016 10:34 pm (Report this annotation)

The campaign video clearly showed a lorry overtaking a cyclist. The events of the video showing a cyclist getting crushed by a lorry while cutting to cartoon excerpts was considered by many to be in extremely poor taste as well as trivialising collision between cyclists and motor traffic. Knocking cyclists off is not funny despite the claims of the readers of the Daily Mail and a certain James Bond film.
I am also surprised at the comment that the number of cyclists killed on our roads has fallen to its lowest level. Normally we hear that cyclists killed and injured are increasing at a higher level than the number of cyclists taking to the road. Or that just a London thing.

And why we are at it, Jonathan Bound is quite correct. The design of cycle lanes encourage cyclists to adopt a dangerous position. If UKGOV want to be serious about cyclist safety they should perhaps reconsider the design and use of these cycle facilities. Perhaps we should call them cyclist death zones.