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Transport for London slammed for “victim-blaming” road safety ad (+ video)

Spot which suggests drivers and cyclists share equal responsibility described as “crass, old fashioned ‘false equivalence’ nonsense.”

Transport for London (TfL) has been slammed on social media for an advert launched during Road Safety Week earlier this month, with Twitter users accusing it of “victim blaming” and promoting “false equivalence” by suggesting that all road users share the same responsibility for ensuring the safety of others.

The integrated campaign, entitled ‘See their Side’ and which will run “for a number of years,” aims to change the culture of road users and contribute towards Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero goal of having zero deaths and serious injuries on the capital’s roads by 2041.

It includes the above 60-second film that is currently airing on TV and which, according to the agency VCCP London, which drew up the campaign, “directly tackles the tribal culture which currently dominates London’s roads.”

The agency’s creative director, Simon Learman, says that the ad, directed by Simon Ratigan, “targets all London road users, and appeals to the audience’s emotions with the presentation of a very real, albeit disturbing interaction between a car driver and cyclist who narrowly escape a collision.

“The initial fury is drowned out by inner monologues, until the anger subsides, they both realise how their behaviour has affected the other’s, and they express genuine concern for one another. The film draws to an emotional conclusion with both road users who are visibly shaken up asking whether each other is ok.”

Among those criticising the ad on Twitter were a number of prominent active travel and road safety campaigners, including Dr Robert Davis, chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum.

He wrote: “I really didn't like the ‘See their side. See safer roads’ advert just shown on ITV. Made by @TfL (+ @transportgovuk 's @THINKgovuk  ) it’s the perfect slogan for the false equivalence of old style ‘road safety’. 

“It won't reduce danger on the roads. It has no robust evidence base for doing so.

“‘Their side’ may be responsible for endangering others, or it might be  relatively far less of a physical threat to others (and also more at risk from road danger).

“If we don't base our approach on understanding that difference, we're nowhere,” he added.

The “difference” that Dr Davis highlights is one now being acknowledged within government, with forthcoming changes to the Highway Code set to outline a hierarchy of road users aimed at protecting the most vulnerable.

The Ranty Highywayman, a traffic engineer by profession, described the spot as “crass, old fashioned ‘false equivalence’ nonsense.”

When the campaign launched last week, Miranda Leedham, head of customer marketing & behaviour change at TfL said:  “At TfL we want to make London safer for all.

“We’re incredibly passionate about this objective and ‘See their side’ is a film we wanted our audience to resonate with. 

“The end product is a film which pulls at the heart strings and really encourages all road users to wake up and think about the potential of their actions.

“We’re fully behind helping The Mayor achieve his Vision Zero ambition to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from our roads and make London a safer place to live,” she added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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169 comments

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Hirsute replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

That would suggest an attempted  left hook in which case why say to the driver about using mirrors ?

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
5 likes

"The integrated campaign, entitled ‘See their Side’ and which will run “for a number of years,” aims to change the culture of road users and contribute towards Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero goal of having zero deaths and serious injuries on the capital’s roads by 2041."

No.

"It includes the above 60-second film that is currently airing on TV and which, according to the agency VCCP London, which drew up the campaign, “directly tackles the tribal culture which currently dominates London’s roads.”

No.

"The agency’s creative director, Simon Learman, says that the ad, directed by Simon Ratigan, “targets all London road users, and appeals to the audience’s emotions with the presentation of a very real, albeit disturbing interaction between a car driver and cyclist who narrowly escape a collision."

Bolox.

“The initial fury is drowned out by inner monologues, until the anger subsides, they both realise how their behaviour has affected the other’s, and they express genuine concern for one another. The film draws to an emotional conclusion with both road users who are visibly shaken up asking whether each other is ok.”

More bolox.

"We’re incredibly passionate about this objective and ‘See their side’ is a film we wanted our audience to resonate with."

No.

“The end product is a film which pulls at the heart strings and really encourages all road users to wake up and think about the potential of their actions."

No.

“We’re fully behind helping The Mayor achieve his Vision Zero ambition to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from our roads and make London a safer place to live,” she added."

Well you sure ain't gonna do it with that crap.

Where did they get the guidance for this campaign from?  The Ladybird book of road safety?  Utter crap, that like the previous campaigns from DfT which terrified cyclists off the road, will succeed only in making cycling appear more dangerous than it is, and will therefore discourage it.  I wonder if TfL can get their money back from VCCP London?

Or maybe I've misunderstood, and the whole thing is about getting more protected cycle lanes?

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IanMK replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
6 likes

In their next advert they will reverse the roles of the protagonists. The older man in his car shouting at a lone, vulnerable female cyclist and suggest that she should 'see his side'. Oh wait a minute....

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anke replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
0 likes

...why not try to "see their side"...?

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
4 likes

Perhaps you could explain exactly what happened in the video so that 'seeing their side' is meaningful.

Did the cyclist just swerve to turn right without looking in the way of The Crash Detectives series 3 episode 4?

Aside from your stance sets out to preclude it actually being 100% someone's fault in the way that a few lorry drivers have driven into the back of stationery traffic due to phone use.

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

The film doesn't explain whose fault it was - presumably just one of those situations where small mistakes on both sides pile up to a major big cock-up. 

But it actually doesn't matter who's fault it was. The message is about staying calm, respectful, empathetic and thinking about how others might experience a given situation from their perspective - helping to resolve this situation, to avoid tribalism, and to stop people from getting more aggressive towards each other every day.

Trying to find out who's mistake the - hypothetical - situation was actually misses the very point of this video...

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quiff replied to anke | 2 years ago
5 likes

I agree that this video deliberately obfuscates the incident itself to focus on how the protagonists deal with the aftermath. That's all well and good, but in order to have a meaningful impact on road safety, we can't just be nicer to each other after near misses, we need to "see their side" in order to avoid incidents arising in the first place. E.g. by thinking "if I was that cyclist, how much space would I want to be given". However, there is still the false equivalence point, and this looks uncomfortably out of step with the upcoming Highway Code changes to introduce a Hierarchy of Responsibility.   

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sensei replied to quiff | 2 years ago
6 likes
quiff wrote:

I agree that this video deliberately obfuscates the incident itself to focus on how the protagonists deal with the aftermath. That's all well and good, but in order to have a meaningful impact on road safety, we can't just be nicer to each other after near misses, we need to "see their side" in order to avoid incidents arising in the first place. E.g. by thinking "if I was that cyclist, how much space would I want to be given". However, there is still the false equivalence point, and this looks uncomfortably out of step with the upcoming Highway Code changes to introduce a Hierarchy of Responsibility.   

 

This is precisely the point and the reason why the advert will be hopelessly ineffective in improving road safety.

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
6 likes

"“The end product is a film which pulls at the heart strings and really encourages all road users to wake up and think about the potential of their actions."

Telling a vulnerable user to be empathetic to the driver of a 1.5T vehicle who is more interested in their phone or infotainment system or arguing with their passenger is not going to make the roads safer or make the driver think of the potential of their actions.

 

 

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:

Telling a vulnerable user to be empathetic to the driver of a 1.5T vehicle who is more interested in their phone or infotainment system or arguing with their passenger is not going to make the roads safer or make the driver think of the potential of their actions.

...implying that all motorists were just interested in their phones or infotainment won't help to make cyclists and motorists get along any better, safer or more effectively. Yes, there are annoying and ignorant motorists and annoying and ignorant cyclists - but let's not be either of them.

But most cyclists (unless for training/leisure) and motorists want to end their journey quickly and safely - and some empathy helps. Even if it's the cyclist who shows the empathy - for example by indicating to a motorist that it's save to overtake (or that it's not save to overtake, which still acknowledges that the cars presence has been noted), or by not filtering to the very front at a red traffic light, or by keeping away from cars that have to leave a parking lot with poor visibility, or by slowing down a little for a moment to let others enter a road, ...

But how did I come to think that this level of empathy might be useful for some cyclists? Because I'm always impressed by the level of aggression and "road rage" demonstrated by some posters in this forum! It's almost like some people were riding souped up Audi-roadbikes, BMW-mountainbikes, or white-van-ebikes - just seeing their own needs and focusing on getting things their way...

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wycombewheeler replied to anke | 2 years ago
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anke wrote:

 

...implying that all motorists were just interested in their phones or infotainment

Not all drivers, just the ones who hit, or nearly hit cyclists. The ones paying proper attention and driving with consideration don't get into these near misses. They are aware of their syurroundings and realise that cyclists do not add time to their journey, even if they hold them up for a few seconds on thsi stretch of road.

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
2 likes

I'm not implying anything. I'm pointing out what happens on the roads, not that all drivers do this.
Annoying and ignorant motorists injury and sometimes kill vulnerable users, so why should anyone show empathy over that ?
Instructing a driver not to over take isn't showing empathy and I'm wondering if you really understand what empathy is.
Roadcraft and hazard awareness don't require empathy and they are not going to make poor drivers improve.
Low tolerance for poor driving, increased driving bans, changes to the hierarchy of responsibility, better infrastructure will improve safety. Oh and police forces taking proper action instead of nfa or a letter.

The nearest to empathy is getting drivers to understand that the cyclist ahead is someone's daughter, son, wife, mother ,grandfather.

Training would get drivers to understand that waiting 10 seconds to overtake is going to make zero difference to the length of their journey.
That mgif is pointless when there is a queue ahead and trying this followed by sudden braking is not only uneconomic but also dangerous.

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

quote hirsute: 

"Annoying and ignorant motorists injury and sometimes kill vulnerable users, so why should anyone show empathy over that ?" - Because they don't just choose to do evil, but find themselves in a situation where they end up doing a stupid, dangerous thing. Understanding how they think and feel (not approving of it!) is empathy and can help to stay save.

"Instructing a driver not to over take isn't showing empathy and I'm wondering if you really understand what empathy is." - It does show empathy: You know and acknowledge that the driver would like to pass and is waiting for a good moment. But the driver isn't really sure when - and would probably appreciate advice from a person ahead, who can see further down the road or around the corner. Becoming that person helps the driver and establishes a personal link - making the driver more concerned for your safety. (In my experience, doing this, followed by waving the driver by once the road is clear, leads to many thankful responses.) 

"Roadcraft and hazard awareness don't require empathy and they are not going to make poor drivers improve." - They make drivers consider your safety and think about what you might perceive as dangerous or uncomfortable. 

You know, a little bit of empathy, applied before an incident happens, is not so bad...

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
4 likes

""Roadcraft and hazard awareness don't require empathy and they are not going to make poor drivers improve."
They make drivers consider your safety and think about what you might perceive as dangerous or uncomfortable."

No, my roadcraft and hazard perception have zero effect on drivers' empathy.
Trying to find mitigation for poor driving is not the answer. Drivers either need to realise that they have to improve or that they are not currently up to driving and should use other transportation for their trip.

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

Right, there was I typo. It meant to read:

""Roadcraft and hazard awareness don't require empathy and they are not going to make poor drivers improve."
IT (EMPATHY) makeS drivers consider your safety and think about what you might perceive as dangerous or uncomfortable."

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chrisonabike replied to anke | 2 years ago
3 likes
anke wrote:

[ lots of stuff about empathy and understanding make it better ]

Empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Many cyclists are motorists. Sharing. Most motorists are not cyclists. No empathy.

tl/dr: None of this really matters - empathy or the lack of it isn't the main thing killing / injuring cyclists. Or pedestrians (we're all pedestrians...) It's not the main worry keeping people off bikes or children from playing in the streets. Lots of fallible humans operating motor vehicles in spaces not prioritised for the safety and convenience of anyone not in a car - I think that could have something to do with it. So even if this rather odd advert "raises awareness" amongst motorists (cyclists have plenty awareness of motorists) I don't think it'll change the casualty stats.

If they kept running them to the extent of the drink / drive campaigns AND enforced dangerous driving behaviour to a much greater extent, then maybe after a generation or two... but people still won't be happily mixing with cars on their bikes.

Will bollards and bridges empathising with motorists stop the motorists hitting them?  Should we send their designers on awareness-raising courses? But those designers are likely drivers of motor vehicles themselves...

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anke replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
0 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Many cyclists are motorists. Sharing. Most motorists are not cyclists. No empathy.

Sharing the feeling is not required for empathy. Being a cyclist oneself is neither required.

But it seems you don't want to understand what the film is about and would rather be right than learning from it. Do so at your own peril in traffic.

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
2 likes

""Instructing a driver not to over take isn't showing empathy and I'm wondering if you really understand what empathy is." - It does show empathy: You know and acknowledge that the driver would like to pass and is waiting for a good moment. But the driver isn't really sure when - and would probably appreciate advice from a person ahead, who can see further down the road or around the corner. Becoming that person helps the driver and establishes a personal link - making the driver more concerned for your safety. (In my experience, doing this, followed by waving the driver by once the road is clear, leads to many thankful responses.) "

 

If the situation has got to the point where I have to instruct a driver not to try and get to the pinch point first or overtake on a blind bend or where the road is narrowing and there is oncoming traffic then the driver is incompetent.

There is no empathy involved by either party. If the driver was actually good at driving, they wouldn't be in the position they are.

If you think the driver will somehow interpret this as a kind lesson then that is just wishful thinking by you.

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

I think you might be part of the intended audience of this video  3

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
4 likes

How did you work that out? I have good roadcraft and very good hazard perception.

I don't need to know why a driver failed to give way, I only have to deal with the fact that they did. I have no interest in wondering if they had a row, had to clear up after the dog, were fixated on the radio. I just have to deal with their actions not some cloud of emotions they are going thorugh.

But hey, if you think you can project empathy by telling someone not to overtake where they are so stupid to realise it is not safe to, then knock yourself out.

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anke replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:

How did you work that out? I have good roadcraft and very good hazard perception.

...said the man in the white van / souped up BMW / black Audi...  3

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Hirsute replied to anke | 2 years ago
4 likes

I'll file that in the same category as

"You like having the last word. Go ahead, grab it - I'll leave it at that."

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

pic3

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
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pic2

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
0 likes

pic1

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
11 likes

I don't really get the relation of this with road safety. The message seems to be about how to react after a close-call but has no message about avoiding that close-call or even how it came about. I'm all for a bit of empathy on the roads, but the bigger problem is all the RTCs and lives lost.

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wycombewheeler replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
5 likes
Garage at Large wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

I don't really get the relation of this with road safety. The message seems to be about how to react after a close-call but has no message about avoiding that close-call or even how it came about. I'm all for a bit of empathy on the roads, but the bigger problem is all the RTCs and lives lost.

That's because you haven't read my last 1,000 posts. Attitudes matter in relation to RTCs and directly affect KSIs. Every time a driver makes a dangerous pass on a cyclist, it makes other cyclists (as a population) more hostile. Every time a cyclist rides through a red light, on the pavement, or shouts abuse at a pedestrian, driver, or fellow cyclist, it makes other road users (as a population) more hostile. The two things feed on each other, and in aggregate make the roads less safe and RTCs more likely to occur. Even TFL and its head Sadiq Khan appear to have somehow stumbled upon that fact-- it's time you did too. The message is clear: no matter who you are on the road, be polite and courteous to other people.

ah, they are not bad drivers, putting us at risk due to lack of attention,/poor judgement.

They are actually taking out their anger on third parties, because a perceieved slight from someone else 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47117177

If this really is the case, then these drivers need taking off the roads permanantly, because no amount of training will adress thier issues transfering their anger on other people.

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Spokesperson replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
4 likes

On Wednesday I had to shout very,very loud at a black cab driver who was about to nip into my (unprotected) cycle lane and crush me and my bike. Yes, without warning, before anyone says I should have noticed, taken preventative action, etc. I had no time to work out if they would consider this an affront to their dignity or rude. 

Most black cab drivers are great, polite and responsible drivers but I didn't want to risk finding out if this was one of the impolite ones so I didn't stop to check on their feelings. I was just relieved that yet again I was able to dodge a driver's poor choice, stop him/her and avoid another trip to the hospital. 

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giff77 replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
2 likes
Garage at Large wrote:

That's because you haven't read my last 1,000 posts. Attitudes matter in relation to RTCs and directly affect KSIs. Every time a driver makes a dangerous pass on a cyclist, it makes other cyclists (as a population) more hostile. Every time a cyclist rides through a red light, on the pavement, or shouts abuse at a pedestrian, driver, or fellow cyclist, it makes other road users (as a population) more hostile. The two things feed on each other...[/quote]

And yet motorists do not become more hostile to their fellow motorists when they witness their peers jump lights, block yellow boxes, tailgate, cut up, inconsiderately park and many other offences. All they do is vent for 20/30 seconds then carry on as normal and bear no further malice or paint every other motorist with the same brush. Yet when one cyclist commits an offence then every other cyclist is guilty by association and merits abuse and intimidation on the road. 

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
8 likes

Apparently, if you had read the cyclist baiting, fat shaming, violence promoting 1002 posts by previously banned poster Boo, you would have understood. Fat cyclists on bikes, especially ebikes, or maybe TT bikes, who are riding with more then one other can be close passed, knocked flying by a car going the wrong way around the roundabout, or have things thrown at them by farmers, because cycling mikey showed an ex boxer using his mobile phone when driving which the Police and Courts found him guilty of. Also, apparently if the driver is the one who stops, gets out and screams and shouts very loudly into the cyclists face who is acting all calm, then that is fine for the driver as he is only being calm and courteous. Unless it is against a woman cyclist in Surrey in which case that is not allowed and all of those Police are Donut eating wasters on Twitter fault or something. 

Oh and Rendel tweeted something 2 years ago. I think that covers it HP. Now do you understand.

edit: forgot that the rotund Orange residing in Maralago is the bestest fittest person in the world ever who supports everyone and would stop climate change in an instant because he said he is the bestest. Pretty sure that was several of his 1002 posts. 

Second Edit: I wonder what all the buildings in the Forum thread said to the drivers of the vehicles to cause that level of escalating violence. 

 

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