If you’ve been in earshot of a social media storm raging this week, chances are it was as a result of the Department for Transport’s laudable but tragically misguided new safety campaign.
We’ve talked about lorries before. We even wrote a post about how we need to talk about lorries. They are definitely a problem for us cyclists and for that, any awareness campaign has merit.
However, the problem for the DfT on this occasion is that the video they released clearly shows a lorry left-hooking a cyclist (overtaking before immediately turning left –exactly what rule 182 of the highway code tells you not to do).
— THINK! road safety (@THINKgovuk) 26 September 2016
So what started out as a potentially worthwhile campaign to encourage us cyclists to stay back from lorries and not pass on the left, ended up becoming yet another piece of victim-blaming bovine bio-waste that did more to inflame than to inform.
Lorries, the abridged version
Lorries have big blind spots, both directly behind and kerb-side just behind the cab. If you do ride in these blind spots you are indeed taking your life in your hands. Yes, it is true that we shouldn’t be put in that situation, but those Advanced Stop Lines actually invite us into danger by encouraging us to filter through on the left.
However, it is also true that hauliers need to start rolling out trucks with better visibility and the council needs to actually install SOME CYCLE INFRASTRUCTURE that isn’t dangerous, but until that happens we’re sharing the roads with everyone else.
Until something resembling safe infrastructure materialises please, please, please only filter through traffic on the right and, if there’s a lorry waiting at the lights please stay behind it, even if there is an advanced stop line.
As luck would have it, the Global Cycling Network has also put a video out to coincide with this campaign. It’s actually much, much more useful, so take a look:
The wonders of social media
The best thing about campaigns like this is the parodies that result from the frustration and anger they cause. Here’s a great example to leave you with.
Cycling: it's not pianos.
A quick one-take voiceover for that DfT Think! advert. I hear it's going down well.pic.twitter.com/hpZHE58yxP
— Alex Ingram (@nuttyxander) September 26, 2016
So near yet so far, eh DfT.