The AA is using humour, and the provision of free wing-mirror stickers, in a new campaign urging motorists to pay more attention on the roads of Britain. The "Think Bikes" campaign is supplying one million sticker sets via its members, and through Halfords, is the hope motorists will apply the reminders in their wing mirrors. The stickers are yellow warning triangles with icons of a bicycle or a motorbike. To publicise the campaign the AA has released a video of a naked cyclist to promote the fact that cyclists are visible, if motorists choose to see.
An AA polls reveals that nine out of ten motorists admit that, when driving, it is sometimes hard to see cyclists. 55 percent of motorists claim they are often "surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere."
The #thinkbikes campaign has the support of British Cycling and the Motorcycle Industry Association. It also has the support of the transport secretary, the road safety minister, the Department for Transport, the police, and a host of cycling and freight transport groups.
Initially one million free stickers will be distributed to drivers as a reminder to do a ‘double-take’ in their mirrors for cycles and motorcycles in their blind spots. It is proposed that the cycle sticker is placed on the passenger’s side and the motorcycle one on the driver’s side.
The sticker concept came from Tony Rich, AA Patrol of the Year, after his friend, Jack Bellis, was killed in a motorcycle crash.
Almost one in five AA members cycle on a regular basis and some 90 per cent of British Cycling members also drive a car.
The AA-Populus cycle survey found: 93 percent of drivers recognise cyclists are vulnerable and claim they "always give them space on the road."
54 percent state that cyclists are "inconsiderate road users."
Edmund King, AA president and a regular cyclist, said: “The AA Think Bikes campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users and this is where our stickers act as a daily reminder. Likewise riders need to be aware that they may not always be spotted by drivers. We hope that this campaign can reach the parts that other campaigns can’t reach.
He added: ”Greater awareness alongside education, enforcement and improved infrastructure will make our roads safer for all.”
Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy adviser, said: “This move by Britain’s largest motoring organisation is a welcome step in creating a culture of mutual respect between all road users. We know that cyclists and drivers are often the same people – nine out of 10 British Cycling members also drive a car. This sticker campaign reflects the importance of looking out for everyone on the road, regardless of what form of transport they use.
“Looking left and giving way to cyclists is a crucial part of improving safety on the roads. This is what happens on the continent and it should become part of our culture too. Of course, this rule is already written into the Highway Code – we just need to ensure that people are following it.
He added: “This campaign will undoubtedly contribute to promoting safer driving habits on the road.”
Last summer the AA and BSM driving schools introduced a cycle awareness module so that all learner drivers are taught how to share the roads with cyclists. AA DriveTech also offers Bikeability "cycling proficiency for the 21st century" courses and training for HGV drivers.
Chris Jansen, AA chief executive and a regular cyclist, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Chris Boardman, British Cycling, John McGuinness and the Motor Cycle Industry Association as we are keen to see a new deal on the roads where all road users abide by the rules and treat each other with respect.”
Obviously this "mutual respect" is a two-way street but some motorists don’t seem to care about the safety of fellow humans. For instance, a bike-cam caught this dangerous overtake on Wednesday and no amount of mirror stickers would likely alter this particular driver’s behaviour. The truck is from Forest of Dean caravans.
UPDATE: Mark Turley, transport manager at Forest Of Dean Caravan, has seen the video and said he’s "horrified" and will take disciplinary action when the driver returns, as well as co-operate with any police enquiry.
HT: Mike Stead