Chris Boardman likens the Department for Transport’s latest cycle safety advert to a production of Top Gear, claiming the campaign “misses the point” by ignoring the facts.
The video, released on Monday, advises cyclists not to get caught between a lorry turning left and uses clips of other things you wouldn’t want to get caught between, such as butting rams and a butcher with a meat cleaver.
Boardman told Cycling Weekly that he advised the people behind the Think! campaign advert not to release it in its current form, but says his suggestions were ignored.
“British Cycling were involved beforehand and there were conversations had [advising the DfT] not to go that way and they said ‘yeah, yeah, thanks for that but we’re going to do it’, so what can you do?” he said.
“It kind of misses the point. All the ‘making death a bit funny’ stuff [at the start], even that is missing the point. The guy with the meat cleaver – it’s his responsibility to make sure he’s not chopping someone’s arm off.
“Dropping the piano, they’re saying don’t get under the piano – no, it’s the person controlling the piano [who has the responsibility]. It was like it was made by Top Gear, it’s embarrassing, it’s that bad.”
Boardman was one of many people who took to Twitter on Monday to express their frustration and disappointment at the video.
British Cycling’s policy advisor is constructive in his criticism, saying that lorry drivers need to be given the safest vehicles in order for them to get a full view of the road around them.
“I just think it’s desperately sad. It misses the biggest thing – all of the time it’s saying ‘look at this vehicle, this driver cannot see 30 per cent of the road’. How is that legal to drive when there are alternatives?” he said.
“It ignores all the stats that show that the majority of accidents with lorries are when they turn left on people. It also ignores the fact that they’ve created a cycle lane down the inside [of vehicles] to get to the advanced stop line, which creates the issue of ‘shall I ride down the inside or not?’. It is so confusing, and [the advert] misses all of that and puts it all onto the vulnerable road user.
“It’s a step backwards because it ignores facts, it ignores the evidence and it just focuses on the easy target. The hard one to deal with is lorry design, with enforcement on the road. If you told a lorry driver that he was going to jail if he turned left on a cyclist then he’s not going to hit a cyclist. That says to me it’s about motivation.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “Any death on the road is a tragedy, and all road users have a responsibility to make our roads safer by being more vigilant.
“We want to protect vulnerable road users by raising awareness of specific dangers, and research shows that a large number of road incidents involving cyclists are with lorries at junctions. The THINK! road safety campaign is aimed at cyclists, motorists and HGV drivers, and they all have a role to play in improving safety.”