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New cycle safety poster campaign launched – but will it save lives?

The management team at Clearview Traffic, have noted interesting news regarding cycle safety in the UK, with the launch of another Campaign.

A new cycle safety poster campaign recently hit the streets for four weeks in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds and Manchester.

The ‘Let’s Look Out For Each Other’ themed poster campaign built on last year’s THINK campaign work to remind drivers to take care around cyclists, and to remind cyclists to be extra cautious around vehicles. But is it worth it?

Cycle Safety Campaign

Do We Need Another Well-Intentioned Poster Campaign?

Whilst we should all applaud any attempts to raise awareness, do they really have any impact? Did any of the previous campaigns prevent the six tragic deaths that occurred in a two-week period in London last November?

Previous campaigns have been heavily criticized for being a waste of money on needless PR – when action to make the roads more cycle-friendly in the first place was what was actually needed to improve safety and save lives.

And when you look at the substance of the posters, the key messages contained within them are so far embedded in the small print that most motorists and cyclists will not have time to read them as they pass them – without potentially causing a distraction anyway.

Don’t Preach – Encourage Positive Change

As the campaign itself highlights, cyclists and motorists are often the same people, and human nature is such that those people who are both active motorists and cyclists are more likely to be more safety aware and conscious of other road users.

Therefore might the answer actually lay in doing more to encourage motorists to get on their bikes, even if just for leisure.

Actively encouraging more people to cycle increases awareness, visibility and safety and by virtue increases participation further, causing more motorists to see cyclists along their routes, which in turn creates greater awareness – and encourages more people to feel it must be safe enough to cycle and therefore take to their bikes themselves.

This virtuous circle effect can be very potent, and it is this area that should be where the focus of the spend should be, not on more PR campaigns: after all, we are aware of the substantial health, economic and social benefits of cycling as a means of sustainable travel and the wider benefits to the economy; instead the focus should be on helping LAs develop the right inclusive infrastructure that encourages more people to cycle.

The government would argue that this is why they have made over £278m funds available to support safer cycling, including £35m to tackle dangerous junctions.

The government has also made it simpler for councils to introduce 20mph zones and limits and install Trixi mirrors at junctions to help eliminate blind spots for drivers of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and ensure better visibility of cyclists at junctions.

Practical Measures Make Users Feel Safer

In Edinburgh, a strong focus of the sustainable travel plan included encouraging greater use of the Union Canal towpath by both pedestrians and cyclists to connect residential areas with the city; to achieve this, they introduced the Astucia SolarLite studs to define the edges of the towpath, and highlight exits off to other paths and routes.

The reaction to our road safety installations has been extremely positive.

An independent survey conducted earlier this year showed that 78% of users of the towpath really liked the effect of the studs, and less than 2% did not like them.

The main comments that came back centred on improved feelings of safety and confidence in using the path, heightened brightness and visibility, resulting in less fear of falling into the canal. Typical comments included:

  • “They are fantastic – a big improvement.”
  • “Brightens path up, massively improved and safer, less likely to go in canal.”
  • “Lights are very helpful when cycling as they clearly identify the path and hazards.”

If you’d like to find out more about Clearview Traffic Group and our road safety and cycle safety solutions, please feel free to get in touch.

Author: |Date Published: May 2014

Links: Route Safety Cycle Safety

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