The backing of cycling organisations was notably absent on a press release sent from the Department for Transport promoting their new Think Cyclist campaign.
Referring to the ‘Wiggins Effect’ – a perception of there being more cyclists on the roads since his summer heroics – the campaign calls on motorists and cyclists to look out for each other this autumn.
But with quotes from all the major motoring organisations – AA, RAC and IAM – padding out the release, the voice of CTC, Sustrans and British Cycling were nowhere to be seen.
The campaign offers lists of advice for both drivers and cyclists in how they should go about their business on the road. For drivers, it encourages them to make eye contact with cyclists, especially when turning and to check when opening doors onto the road.
For cyclists, they should avoid riding up the side of large vehicles and ride positively in bright coloured clothing.
But it’s in the driver advice to “give cyclists space – at least half a car’s width” – far less than the Highway Code’s recommendation to give as much room as possible – that has caused cycling groups to distance themselves from the campaign.
CTC’s Policy Co-ordinator Chris Peck told BikeRadar that they had been consulted as it was being put together, but “given the way the process had been conducted we didn’t feel we were able to give a quote to support [the campaign].”
In a post on their website, Peck says early drafts included some “utterly spurious advice to cyclists” which were only improved following pressure from cycling organisations, adding that the finished release ignores the fact that most crashes are the fault of the driver.
He also criticised the reach it would have given its “miniscule” budget, which he says is just £80,000. He referred back to the £1.2m thrown at Think Biker campaign earlier this year aimed at reducing motorcycle casualties.
We contacted Forster, the communications agency in charge of the campaign, for clarification on its budget and were told they’d get back to us.
“Advertising campaigns like this only work at scale – too small and they disappear without trace,” he added. With a budget 15 times less, Think Cyclist would have “barely any impact amongst the public at large.”
For a closer look at full list of advice in the Think Cyclist campaign, visit the website here.