TfL’s ‘See their Side’ ad campaign paused following backlash

TfL’s ‘See their Side’ advert campaign has been paused following a backlash that accused it of ‘victim blaming’.

The campaign was launched in collaboration with agency VCCP London to mark last month’s Road Safety Week.

“I know there has been a lot of concern raised about the ‘see their side’ advert,” London’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman wrote on Twitter. “The campaign has been paused to consider the feedback that has been received. City Hall and TfL remain committed to improving the road culture in London and reducing road danger.”

Cycling UK responded to the news in a tweet, saying: “Everybody makes mistakes, but the important thing is to listen and learn. It’s great to see @willnorman has taken action to withdraw this contentious ad and reflect on the feedback @TfL has received.”

In a previous blog post, the charity’s head of campaigns and advocacy Duncan Dollimore said: “The concept behind the film, namely seeing things from someone else’s perspective, is great, and I’m sure everyone involved in this film genuinely wanted to encourage more tolerance on the roads. It’s also better than many road safety films I’ve seen.

“But I was still dismayed when I watched it, because it’s a film that ignores the fundamental change the new [Highway] Code introduces: the introduction of the ‘Hierarchy of Users’ or ‘Hierarchy of Responsibility’, recognising that road users who pose greater risks to others ought to have a higher level of responsibility.”

Cycling UK today welcomed the Government’s latest amendments to the Highway Code that were presented to MPs and Lords in Parliament, including the introduction of a hierarchy of road users.

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“Going back to TfL’s film, the promotional material indicates that it is targeted at all London’s road users,” continued Dollimore. “That’s the first mistake.

“The recommendations we made to the government in 2018 regarding awareness campaigns reflected the findings of a 2009 study of several successful initiatives targeted at certain behaviour (these included speeding and green travel, as well as issues unrelated to transport).

“Most salient is the author’s recommendation for accurate targeting, because in the context of road safety awareness campaigns, multi-purpose / multi-targeted campaigns, which try to address perceived problem behaviour among drivers and cyclists alike in the same campaign usually end up creating a false equivalence between different road users.”

Read the full post here.

Rebecca Morley

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