With the aim of tackling the rising number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the county and defusing growing tensions between cyclists, motorists and residents, a new advertising campaign has been launched by Surrey Police and Surrey County Council.
According to Surrey Police, the county has seen a big increase in the number of leisure cyclists taking to its roads as a result of the Olympics, Tour of Britain and RideLondon events as well as a growing number of sportives in the region.
Part of the county’s Drive Smart initiative, the adverts appear on billboards, buses, local radio stations, social media and print media, including Cycling Weekly (August 22, p.27) and are aimed at encouraging mutual understanding and cooperation amongst different road users.
We’re asking people to know their capabilities, to cycle considerately, and in some areas not for example to cycle four or five abreast,” superintendent Chris Moon told Cycling Weekly. “We’re also trying to get motorists to slow down, to be more considerate and to give a wider berth to cyclists, and to be aware and to be tolerant.”
The campaign follows flyers handed out to cyclists around Box Hill in September 2011 which warned them of a potential £1000 fine for ‘careless and inconsiderate cycling,’ and a letter sent to cycling clubs earlier that year warning them of complaints of anti-social cycling (CW September 22, 2011).
“We’re always looking for innovative ways of getting in touch with people,” added Moon. “I think Police communication over the years in many areas has been very traditional [yet] the way that people access information is changing these days.”
Q&A with Superintendent Chris Moon, Surrey Police
Cycling Weekly spoke to Surrey Police’s Superintendent Chris Moon [right] to ask him some more questions about their advertising campaign.
Is bad cycling and driving a problem?
We’ve seen an increase in the frequency of cycling related casualities in the last few years. In 2008 we had 50 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Surrey and that’s risen to 124 in 2012. That’s coincided with an increase in the popularity of leisure cycling in Surrey off the back of the fantastic success of the Olympics and now RideLondon. But alongside the increase in casualties we’ve also had an increase in the tension between motorists and cyclists and local communities.
What message are you trying to get across?
We’re asking people to know their capabilities, to cycle considerately, and in some areas not for example to cycle four or five abreast. We’re also trying to get motorists to slow down, to be more considerate and to give a wider berth to cyclists, and to be aware and to be tolerant.
Who are you targeting?
Our focus primarily is on those new to the sport who don’t know the roads around Surrey and who potentially don’t know the capabilities of the bikes they have, and perhaps aren’t aware of how their riding is causing a nuisance or is causing some frustration amongst motorists.
What happens if I phone 101 to report bad driving or cycling?
If it is something happening now and it is dangerous, then we would look to respond to it as we would do anything else. If it is something that has happened, and we can say it is happening a lot in that area, then we can target some activity around there, whether it’s in terms of enforcement or education.
How will you measure the campaign’s success?
The main one is number of casualties. But we’ve got to be realistic that this is a long running national issue, and we want to encourage people to come to Surrey to enjoy cycling and not dissuade them. The second is a reduction in the number of complaints we receive both relating to motorists driving inconsiderately and cyclists riding inconsiderately.
How would you respond to those who would argue that resources could be better spent?
We’re out there trying to save people’s lives. That is the bottom line, and that is the main objective of this campaign.