The Nice Way Code was a Scottish campaign that targeted pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and asked them to respect each other whilst out on the road. A lot of the focus was on cyclists and the campaign spectacularly managed to alienate this audience with a series of poorly thought out adverts.
In the ad below a cyclist is compared to a horse, the point being that motorists when overtaking a cyclist should give them as much respect and space as they would do when overtaking a horse.
The Advertising Standards Authority, after receiving complaints about this ad, have banned it. They note the cyclist wore no helmet or safety gear and:
“Furthermore, we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb, they appeared to be located more in the centre of the lane when the car behind overtook them and the car almost had to enter the right lane of traffic.
“Therefore, for those reasons we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.”
Now, I wear a helmet and I wear hi-vis most of the time when cycling and I certainly don’t look as good on a bike as the lady cyclist in the advert. But the roads I cycle on are not as idyllic looking as the one in the advert and I know that a lot of cars that overtake me leave a much narrower gap than desired. It’s my choice to dress this way just as people can buy different coloured cars, some more visible than others.
What I do share in common with the cyclist in the advert is that I also cycle more than 0.5m from the kerb. It’s a safer position to take on the road, you avoid more potholes, there’s less weaving in and out of parked cars and more visibility when approaching junctions. Cars are also forced to take a wider (and safer) line to overtake instead of squeezing past you as you cling to the kerb. If you look closely at the end of the advert the cyclist is in the right position to avoid a few nasty looking potholes at the edge of the road.
So, according to the ASA, I am socially irresponsible and my behaviour is prejudicial to health and safety. Despite this I think I’ll continue take my chances more than 0.5m away from the kerb. The ASA simply don’t know what they are talking about.