Cycling UK calls for withdrawal of government cycle safety campaign

Cycling UK urged the Department for Transport to pull its THINK campaign “Hang Back” yesterday.

The controversial video, launched last Monday, September 26th, compares a cyclist caught in a left-turning HGV’s blind spot with numerous farcical clips, including a cartoon character caught between two iron girders, and two rams butting horns. It has been widely criticised as an example of victim blaming, and for downplaying – and making light of – the deaths of vulnerable road users. 

While goods vehicles, excluding light vans, make up only five per cent of traffic in Great Britain, they are involved in 18 per cent of yearly cyclists’ road deaths on average. Cycling UK is resolute that the campaign disregards the real issue: that large vehicles with unnecessary blind spots remain in use.

A request made by Cycling UK prior to the campaign’s launch, asking THINK to reconsider their messaging, was ignored. Following the campaign’s release, the road safety group wrote to Andrew Jones, the minister responsible for cycling, advising the THINK team to withdraw the video, and for their team to work with cycling organisations to build a new campaign. 

“The level of criticism is unfortunate,” THINK officials responded, “however we have no plans to withdraw the video.” 

“Cycling UK is urging Andrew Jones and the team behind their dreadful ‘Hang Back’ initiative to THINK again, and to stop blaming the victims of these tragic collisions where cyclists have been killed by lorries,” said Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety and legal campaigns officer. “THINK does not tell people to avoid the roads because of the danger drunk drivers post to others, so why is it now trivialising the victims of lorry collisions when we know lorries are a problem, and have massive blind spots?

“I would urge everyone who is equally disgusted by this campaign to write to the minister, asking him to withdraw this campaign, which they can do via the Cycling UK website.”

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