The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has withdrawn its ban of a Cycling Scotland television safety advert which portrayed a cyclist with no helmet riding ‘in the centre of the lane’.

The ASA had banned the ad after deeming it ‘socially irresponsible’ but has now said that it will wait for the outcome of a formal review of the decision after Cycling Scotland lodged an appeal on the grounds that the cyclist’s position in the road was correct.

“The decision to withdraw was made by the ASA Chief Executive in light of a potential flaw in our ruling. Once the Independent Review process is complete we will publish our decision on our website,” said the ASA in a statement on Thursday morning.

Related links
Cycle safety advert banned for depicting rider with no helmet

  • Dave B

    There’s one ad I can think of, can’t remember what it’s selling, which shows how good it really is. But it’s a child which each morning jumps from a higher step on the stairs in it’s house; whilst being watched by it’s mother.

    If that’s not encouraging children to act irresponsively, I don’t know what is!

  • Roger Geffen, CTC the national cycling charity

    The (provisional) withdrawal of the ASA’s ruling (pending a review of the decision) is clearly a positive step, and suggests that the ASA recognises it has messed up rather spectacularly! See

    However, we can’t afford to start celebrating prematurely.

    As Roger Bryan has noted, the ASA’s announcement (2nd link above) only references the complaint about the cyclist’s road positioning, without mentioning their non-use of a helmet or other ‘protective equipment’.

    CTC is concerned that the ASA may be looking to ‘save face’ by backing down on the cyclist’s road-positioning (acknowledging that it is in line with Highway Code Rule 163), while sticking to their guns on helmets, citing the Highway Code Rule 59 in their defence.

    If we end up with the ASA imposing de facto censorship of helmet-free cycling on TV, that would be an appalling blow to the promotion of cycling as a safe, enjoyable, aspirational and (above all) perfectly normal way for people of all ages and backgrounds to get around for day-to-day journeys or for leisure.

    CTC has therefore invited people to submit suggestions of other adverts showing examples of
    • Deeply ‘irresponsible’ cycling (e.g. cycling without helmets) –
    • Equally ‘irresponsible’ walking (e.g. people walking on the streets at night without reflective clothing, children out on the streets on their own, not crossing the road carefully in accordance with the Green Cross Code) –… and
    • Ads showing genuinely irresponsible driving –

    We’ve already had some great examples – e.g. the famous Hovis adverts of the 1970s really ought to be banned, according to the ASA’s ‘logic’. Please keep them coming!

    There is of course a serious point to this. If the ASA can ban helmet-free cycling on the grounds that it’s covered by the Highway Code, shouldn’t they also be banning any advert showing someone walking at night without reflective gear on exactly the same grounds? And how come so many advertisers get away with showing really irresponsible driving?

    [N.B. The answer to this last question is that advertisers persistently use the excuse that their ads are set in purely “fantastical” settings. In other words, nobody could possibly mistake their fantasy car-adverts for the congestion, pollution and danger of real-world street-scenes!]

  • gg/gg

    Good to see that “people power” works in this day and age.

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    Definitely abusing their authority here.

  • T Anderson

    A couple of years ago I wrote to the ASA and complained about the use of the term “ROAD TAX” in car adverts; pionting out this is factually incorrect and misleads some drivers to think motorists pay for the highways.

    ASA said the term “ROAD TAX” was OK.

    But cycling without a helmet on the left hand side of the road is NOT OK.

    Don’t think the ASA are fit for purpose!

  • Roger Bryan

    Worth remembering that the ASA hasn’t back tracked on the helmet issue, only on the road position issue. Chances are the ad will still be banned because the rider isn’t wearing a helmet.

  • Colnago dave

    I take it the ASA executive will now stand down after showing they do not know the law