The best and worst cycle safety campaigns

Cycle safety campaigns are always embarked upon with our best interests at heart.

Some of them are aimed at cyclists, others at drivers. Some are incredibly helpful, insightful and hopefully educational. Some of them less so.

Here’s a look at the best and worst cycle safety and driver awareness messages we’ve seen…

Cyclist Stay Back stickers

TFL introduced these stickers and immediately infuriated the majority of cyclists in the country. This misguided command was designed to go on the back of vehicles with blind spots, particularly those weighting over 3.5 tonnes.

Though the wording is somewhat offensive regardless, it is of course smart to stay well clear of long vehicles with significant blind spots. The stickers, however, seem to have spread to Taxi’s and other much smaller cars and vans.

After complaints from the CTC and other organisations, TFL will remove the stickers from their fleet and replace them with a more kindly worded notice, but unfortunately unofficial variations of the stickers are still available for anyone to buy on eBay.


RoadCC responded with the much better version – Cyclists, Stay Awesome.


If you go to now, you’ll see an apology notice and that is all. If you’d gone to it in the winter of 2012, you’d have been faced with advertising agency Karmarama’s bright spark campaign – “Ride Smart – Don’t Die Stupid”.

In 2012, Karmarama claimed that a percentage of cycling deaths were caused by cyclists “riding like t***s”. The language is offensive on its own, but their illustrations were unforgivable. Videos showed cyclists in graphic accidents, alongside limericks such as this:


We can’t say much more, other than:

How very short-sighted, Karmrama,
To create such a drama.
By placing the blame,
All in cyclists names,
You created your own unnecessary palaver.

London Cycling Campaign

The London Cycling Campaign are just GOOD. Right now, they’re calling for safer lorries and training for drivers.

In April this year they were calling people to rally local council candidates to pledge to fight for Space for Cycling.

Space for Cycling called for six changes, including 20mph limits, safer roads and areas without through motor traffic. To highlight that third one, they created ‘Where’s Woolly”.

A simple idea, executed well – Where’s Whoolly was all about putting woolly covers on bollards to highlight the good job they do – preventing through traffic and creating space for cyclists and walkers.

Videos and pics did the rounds on social media, attention was grabbed, people thought more about making London safer for cyclists. And no one was offended (except maybe Wally).

The AA Now You See Me Video

Do you remember a time, deep in your childhood, when it was funny to write “SEX. Now I’ve got your attention…” ? Ok – perhaps just me – but risqué gets attention.

The AA wanted to get people to think about using their wing mirrors, so they showed how you could miss even a naked cyclist if you don’t.

The trailer serves two purposes: tells people to use the mirrors, and shows the vulnerability of cyclists. There are few more vulnerable beings than a naked person on a bike.

Despite being quite eye opening (hopefully) the video got just under 250k views – which actually isn’t huge, unfortunately, when compared to more viral videos such as the infamous FENTON.

Cyclists! Why Do They Ride In The Middle Of the Road

Published on, this article is absolute genius. The title of course, alongside the website URL, leads cyclists to believe it’s anti them, so they click it, and drivers think it’s going to highlight the stupidity of cyclists, so they click it.

The article then explains exactly why cyclists ride where they do – for safety, taking the “primary position”. Drivers are educated. Cyclists share it (66k of them on Facebook, 3k on Twitter), and their driving friends read it too.

This clever blog does a lot for both cyclists and drivers – it shows a motoring focused site standing up for those who go by bike, and it shows motorists that it’s acceptable to be sympathetic towards cyclists – afterall, the motoring authority deserves their attention.

Have any campaigns or messages caught your attention? Tell us about them.. 

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

5 Responses to The best and worst cycle safety campaigns

  1. Skippy 12/08/2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Feel free to download the Graphics from ” Vision Zero Worldwide ( Google ) ” which are meant to remind people that 1 1/2M safe Pass of Cyclists is the LAW throughout the European Union !

    Remind your readers that on 15th November ” StopKillingCyclists ” have an Event in London ! They were responsible for the ” Die In last November , that saw 1500 or so Cyclists on the doorsteps of TFL !

    If only 50% of the 24000 at last Sunday’s London 100 , took the time to put that date on their Social Media , then Bozo , that genius at NOT SPENDING the promised GBP 1 Billion would have to pony up , or RISK the failure to save his neck by jumping into Parliament , as people wakeup to his duplicity as Lord Mayor ! How can ANYONE return money to treasury that was earmarked to SAVE Cyclists from Death & Injury ?

    All he has ever done is BLUSTER , yet Cyclists continue to DIE , despite the blue paint !

    Even during the 2012 Olympic Period , i saw Police vans driving in the ” Blue Paint Lane” they would claim it as their RIGHT , since there were passengers aboard , perhaps on the way to a rest break , mid arternoon ?

    Keep up the GOOD WORK !

  2. Stef B 14/08/2014 at 10:56 pm #

    And then there’s the Cycle Scotland campaign: “See bike, think horse!”


  3. Vincent 15/08/2014 at 12:39 pm #

    > Though the wording is somewhat offensive regardless

    “Stay back. Beware of passing this vehicle on the inside”

    As a non-native speaker, I was wondering what is offensive about it. The lack of “Please…”?

  4. congokid 20/08/2014 at 2:56 pm #

    “Some of them are aimed at cyclists, others at drivers. Some are incredibly helpful, insightful and hopefully educational. Some of them less so.”

    The only measure of success from such awareness ‘campaigns’ should be: Have they made cycling safer for everyone and more popular for all age-groups for all kinds of journeys and by both genders?

    Unless you can say that, any other measure such as ‘helpful, insightful and educational’ are really just wishful thinking.

    As the effects of most such campaigns are rarely directly evaluated with comparisons of pre and post event data, their impact is almost impossible to assess. Typically all we have to rely on are KSI data, which are not at all satisfactory when we’re trying to promote everyday cycling as a safe, healthy activity.

    My main point is that all these campaigns put together – the good and the bad – are worth less than a single yard of proper cycling infrastructure.

Leave a Reply