Cycling Advert Banned for being Socially Irresponsible

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK have banned an advert because it shows a woman cycling without a helmet and away from the side of the road.

The TV advert was produced by Cycling Scotland, a charity that works for the Scottish government to promote cycling in Scotland.  It tries to convey the message “See Cyclist, Thing Horse“, encouraging motorists to “treat a cyclist the way you would treat a horse”… “Slow down, treat them with care and give them their space on the road.”

The advert was banned due of the portrayal of a woman at the end of the advert, because she was cycling in the centre of the lane and without a helmet, and have branded it “socially irresponsible”.

The ASA said “The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Cycling Scotland that any future ads featuring cyclists should be shown wearing helmets and placed in the most suitable cycling position.”

Unfortunately it is the Advertising Standard Authority who have  shown themselves to be socially irresponsible.

They have gone against all the best advice regarding road positioning, including that from Bikeability, the cycling proficiency agency of the UK Department of Transport. Their advice is that the safest place for a cyclist is in the ‘primary position’ in the centre of the lane – as this is the best place to see and be seen by other traffic.

The ruling also mandates that cyclists need to be shown wearing helmets, when there is no law saying that helmets must be worn, and no evidence that they make any difference. Indeed the portrayal of helmets just makes cycling look more dangerous than it actually is, which in turn puts people off.

And so, instead of allowing an advert to be shown that encourages drivers to be safer and more courteous around cyclists, the ASA have ruled that ads must show cyclists riding in a dangerous road position and dressed head-to-toe in safety gear – two things that serve only to discourage cycling and absolve drivers from the responsibility of behave considerately when passing cyclists.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

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