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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 brooksby | 2 years ago
2 likes

Well, it did scare the life out of her.

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brooksby replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
2 likes

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Steve K | 2 years ago
6 likes

I was going to post that we now all know where our Nige works...

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Steve K replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
6 likes

"Articulating the danger of the situation" that was entirely created by her poor driving.  A danger which risked his life vs damage to her property.  That's the equivalence argument. 

Anyway, I shall now return to ignoring you and apologies to everyone else for feeding the troll.

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AidanR replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
8 likes

The video quite deliberately cuts so you can't see who is actually at fault.

The false equivalence is in fact nicely demonstrated by the driver thinking "I could have killed you" vs the cyclist's "it must have really frightened you." Death vs a fright is not equivalent.

Again, sorry for feeding the troll but he's WRONG  10

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efail replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
2 likes

There We Are Then.

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

Eh? If you actually watched the video, and listened to what was said, you'd have noticed that the cyclist pulled out of a sideroad straight into the car's path. The driver saved his life by performing an emergency stop. You've just imagined a scenario that never took place. Edit: 1000 posts!

and yet the end up side by side.

The cyclist states "use your mirrors" which would bear no relvance to him having pulled out in front.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Steve K | 2 years ago
4 likes

I see they did their best to not blame either the cyclist of the driver for the initial coming together, and then totally left it as the drivers fault by showing them both stopped with cyclist in the gutter and driver inches away. I wonder who is to blame? 

Still it does show a cyclist whose life is threatened and then accused as the one being in the wrong by irate driver so is definitely real life at least. And nice of TFL to then state forget about it to the cyclist. Don't bother reporting it and the roads will then be nicer. 

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anke replied to Steve K | 2 years ago
0 likes

The video does not show who created the danger - it's never shown if the cyclist or the motorist were at fault. Automatically assuming that it must be the motorists fault though, is probably exactly what the video is about: don't assume it's always the others (motorist / cyclist) fault, don't be biased, don't be tribal - try to see things from the other perspective too.

Yep, you won't like me for writing this. But if I just agreed that the motorist is a "stupid, dangerous, selfish and ignorant ****", it wouldn't be of use for any cyclist, it wouldn't help to avoid accidents, it wouldn't help to reconsider one's own actions and it wouldn't help anyone to survive longer. (And yes, you might even reject this as victim blaiming, if you're such inclined - but this can be done to any helpful advice...)

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marmotte27 replied to anke | 2 years ago
2 likes

"The video does not show who created the danger - it's never shown if the cyclist or the motorist were at fault. Automatically assuming that it must be the motorists"

The motorists drives a 1.5t vehicle at something like 20-30mph. OF COURSE she creates the danger here. That is what this whole discussion is ABOUT.

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anke replied to marmotte27 | 2 years ago
0 likes
marmotte27 wrote:

The motorists drives a 1.5t vehicle at something like 20-30mph. OF COURSE she creates the danger here. That is what this whole discussion is ABOUT.

So if one is lying down on a train track, it's invariably the 500t train at 70mph that's responsible for the danger and death?

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brooksby replied to anke | 2 years ago
2 likes
anke wrote:
marmotte27 wrote:

The motorists drives a 1.5t vehicle at something like 20-30mph. OF COURSE she creates the danger here. That is what this whole discussion is ABOUT.

So if one is lying down on a train track, it's invariably the 500t train at 70mph that's responsible for the danger and death?

Personally I'd be blaming the bloke in the top hat and tails who is twiddling his long moustache...  3

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

So if one is lying down on a train track, it's invariably the 500t train at 70mph that's responsible for the danger and death?

The train is certainly the dangerous agent and causes the death. This is why trains are kept separate from pedestrians as they cannot safely interact due to their long stopping distances and lack of steering. If someone lies down on a train track, then they are trespassing and clearly responsible for the incident.

With people trespassing on rail tracks, I'd consider empathy to be far more useful as the train driver will be traumatised by having their train kill someone, so the person lying on the tracks should really consider a different method of taking their life (and ideally decide against such a course of action).

Trains aren't really a good analogy for road collisions due to the fundamental differences.

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anke replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

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

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

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

Huh?

I put across my opinion quite clearly and you kept disagreeing (which is fine) - it's nothing about having the last word, but pointing out flaws with your subsequent comments about the TFL video.

Ultimately, I think TFL has been pressured into making a road safety film and they've decided to do the most ineffective campaign they can think of which is probably because they did not ask cyclists about dangers on the road.

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Clem Fandango replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
7 likes
Garage at Large wrote:

I thought it was a decent advert which exemplifies the tribalism present on London's roads. I don't see the "equivalence" criticism at all, the female driver clearly states "I could have killed him", articulating the danger of the situation. Obviously in real life the London cyclist would have opened with a stream of gendered obscenities, but I appreciate the advert needs to be sanitised for the audience.

Hello all.

Been busy doing the day job of late. Have I missed anyth.......Oh FFS

Honestly Nige, you just can't help it can you?  Make a half decent / legitimate point, then unzip and p!ss all over the place with a typically on brand generalised insult in an attempt to illicit (one assumes) an emotional response. 

What happened in your life that drives the need for this sort of confrontation?  I'm sure we can help if you need to talk.  Do you need a nice cup of tea?  

 

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Sniffer replied to Clem Fandango | 2 years ago
0 likes

.

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anke replied to Clem Fandango | 2 years ago
0 likes

Come on, give him some peace. It's not about the language, after all.

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Velo-drone replied to Lance ꜱtrongarm | 2 years ago
6 likes

It's completely unrepresentative of the typical dangerous encounter between drivers and cyclists. I've driven for 15 years and I've literally never encountered a cyclist doing anything like that.

Yet pretty much every time I go out on my bike, I get close passes and aggressive, intimidating behaviour from a minority of drivers.

THAT is the problem that needs to be confronted and addressed

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