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Update: Europcar claims it didn't place cyclist & pedestrian warning stickers

Car hire company back-pedals after being slammed in social media

Car hire company Europcar has come under fire for fixing stickers on some vehicles warning pedestrians and cyclists to keep clear.

The stickers were pointed out on Twitter yesterday:

A storm of criticism followed as people asked what the stickers were intended to achieve and a seemingly rather bemused social media person at Europcar failed to take the issue seriously enough.

In a now deleted tweet, Europcar replied:

As you can imagine, that really didn't help. Lizzie Reather of Leeds Cycling Campaign responded and got this reply:

Other tweeters pointed out that the stickers can be considered victim-blaming; that it's legally the responsibility of the person opening the door to look out for other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists; and that the sticker alerting pedestrians was on a sliding door anyway, so there was no danger to warn about.

Europcar sponsors the French cycling team of the same name, which might account for some of the outrage, and eventually Europcar played the sponsored team card:

They also tried one of those 'sorry not sorry' apologies:

The stickers in question are not original to Europcar. They are sold by the Road Haulage Association and like Transport for London's notorious 'Stay Back' stickers appear to be intended to warn against the blind spot issues of large vehicles.

TfL's stickers are now being replaced after representations from cycling campaign groups.

Rather than selling stickers, the other major lorry lobby organisation, the Freight Transport Association, sells educational cards with bullet-point reminders to drivers of how they should behave around cyclists. Perhaps Europcar should get a few of those and give them to customers.

Update: Europcar says it didn't put the stickers on the van

Europcar's Twitter account went quite for five hours or so today. When it returned, it was to post this:

and shortly afterwards, this

It's all a bit odd after the Europcar Twitter account had previously vigorously defended the stickers:

(Hat-tip to Bez for grabbing all those tweets.) 

We have contacted Europcar for comment.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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36 comments

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ragtag | 9 years ago
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If Europcar love cyclists so much I'd like to see them provide a leaflet to every single person that hires a car to be aware of vulnerable road users. Everytime I get a close pass from a Europcar vehicle I hate them a little more.

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SteppenHerring | 9 years ago
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I saw a sticker on a lorry yesterday saying "Stay Behind - I can't see cyclists". Surely such an admission of eyesight problems means that the driver should be taken off the road at once.

Anyway - it wasn't true as he saw me. Granted I was in the car, but ...

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Rome73 | 9 years ago
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How about stickers on the back of vans:

'Beware, driver is probably using mobile phone'

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Al__S | 9 years ago
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The pedestrian one... it was put on a sliding side door that's not at all likely to be opened from the inside. The "danger" to pedestrians from that door is almost nil.

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Beaufort | 9 years ago
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Holy shit, the things some folk get upset about

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KiwiMike replied to Beaufort | 9 years ago
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Beaufort wrote:

Holy shit, the things some folk get upset about

People are upset about the creeping victim-blaming and culpable negligence culture on our roads, which engenders a sense of superiority amongst some road users, leads to a lack of due care and attention, and ultimately will make us all worse off. It may seem trivial to you, others think it's worthwhile fighting.

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ChairRDRF | 9 years ago
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On the stickers saga in London, do see the posts on www.rdrf.org.uk , of which the latest is here http://rdrf.org.uk/2014/06/26/transport-for-london-sees-sense-at-last-ov...

We still have to see a TfL page on the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme site explaining – to which non-FORS members can be directed – why the original stickers were replaced and why they were NEVER intended to be used on cars and vans which don’t have a “blindspot”.

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J90 | 9 years ago
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I think they're just pissed off with all those guys in green jerseys always hanging on to their branded estate cars.

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bendertherobot | 9 years ago
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What kind of swimming trunks? Speedos? Hipsters? Baggie Bermudas? I can't determine which analogy is correct without this information.

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harrybav | 9 years ago
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Big stickers inside the vehicles, stop the danger at source, great idea, slap 'em on.

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PonteD | 9 years ago
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I don't see the issue with either of those, this is a hire car after all, usually these are being ragged about by people who don't care because its not their car and they aren't used to driving a van, or they've crashed their own (by driving like an idiot) so they've had to borrow one.

Either way, I see it as a warning that the person driving this vehicle is a numpty and is likely to drive erratically and/or mount the pavement with no warning other than holding down the horn as they drive with one wheel on the kerb at 30mph with their hazards on (because we all know hazards enable stealth mode that makes you invisible to traffic wardens) so watch out!

I fear white vans, even more I fear white HIRE vans!

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pants | 9 years ago
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"beware of passing on the inside" is something I see that a lot of cyclists needs to do, sometimes even when the cars are indicating left. As for the pedestrians one.. well, I am not one of them :]

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andyp | 9 years ago
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no, that's not logical at all, or indeed the same thing.

And attributing stupidity, and 'blaming' are two different things.

For instance. Man goes swimming in large pool of hungry sharks, and gets eaten. Man is stupid. Manufacturers of swimming trunks are not responsible for man ignoring the dangers of being eaten by sharks. Although they may be guilty of not making their swimming trunks shark-proof. (and no, this isn't a direct comparison of cycling lane scenario either. But one where something is legal, but stupid).

Yes, the driver should look left before crossing the cycle path. And yes, the designers of the roads should give more thought to cycling infrastructure. But in the end, if you do something really fucking stupid, you have to take some of the blame yourself. Putting yourself in harm's way through some sense of self-righteousness isn't going to help your grieving family.

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Bez replied to andyp | 9 years ago
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andyp wrote:

For instance. Man goes swimming in large pool of hungry sharks, and gets eaten. Man is stupid. Manufacturers of swimming trunks are not responsible for man ignoring the dangers of being eaten by sharks.

No, that's not analogous at all. The trunks are analogous to the bicycle. It's the infrastructure that's key.

The pool of sharks has a sign on it saying "swimming pool". That's the analogy. Is there not a shred of responsibility with the person who decreed that a place to guide people to swim is a pool full of sharks? Should they not have built a separate pool, or put a physical barrier between the sharks and the swimming lane? "It's ok. These sharks are trained and licensed. They've passed a don't-bite-people test." People see a pool, and a sign saying "swimming pool". People see others swimming in the pool. They don't see any other people being eaten, because the sharks have passed their don't-bite-people test and mostly don't bite people. The swimming pool full of sharks seems to be working for the people who are happy to use it. But then one day a shark forgets its training. And the results are inevitable.

The pool is the analogy with people who make infrastructure, not trunks.

andyp wrote:

Yes, the driver should look left before crossing the cycle path. And yes, the designers of the roads should give more thought to cycling infrastructure. But in the end, if you do something really fucking stupid, you have to take some of the blame yourself. Putting yourself in harm's way through some sense of self-righteousness isn't going to help your grieving family.

"Some of the blame", perhaps, but that's quite a shift from your earlier argument that it was Their Fault.

It's illegal to ride on the pavement. It's discouraged to ride outside of the cycle lane. The lane is there. The lane is labelled with bicycle symbols. The lane is subject to the same rules of the road as the other lanes. The lane is provided by designers who are obliged to cater for all sorts of people, including those not tested as sufficiently competent to operate cars. The lane is used every day by people who mostly aren't ending up crushed under trucks. What seems obviously "really fucking stupid" to you may not be to everyone, but that doesn't mean they deserve to die because of it or that as a society we should look at their deaths and say, well, they were fucking stupid.

The point here is to fix the problem and stop people - yes, even "really fucking stupid" people! - from dying.

And the point here is that the more these stickers are used, and the more people accept them, and the more people who stand up and say that they're sensible stickers and that the only people who are dying are "really fucking stupid," the more people will die, because it just propagates the status quo.

Blaming victims never helped victims. And it won't help anyone here.

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vasgko2 | 9 years ago
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Social media junk

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KiwiMike | 9 years ago
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It appears Europcar are out-doing Danny McAskill in the back-pedaling department...

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jacknorell replied to KiwiMike | 9 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:

It appears Europcar are out-doing Danny McAskill in the back-pedaling department...

I find it *massively* hard to believe that Europcar customers are stickering the vans. If nothing else, because they'd end up paying for 'damage' to the vehicle.

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marche | 9 years ago
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Is Voekler avoiding doors when riding next to his team car?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Tour_de_Romandie_2011...équipe_Europecar.jpg  22

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jollygoodvelo replied to marche | 9 years ago
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marche wrote:

Is Voekler avoiding doors when riding next to his team car?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Tour_de_Romandie_2011...équipe_Europecar.jpg  22

Someone needs to get one of those stickers on the team bus next year.  4

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bikebot | 9 years ago
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A slice of cake of the winners choice to the first person to get a picture of one of those illegally parked on the pavement with that "pedestrians sod off" warning sticker.

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KiwiMike | 9 years ago
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Note to lots of folks: You are legally allowed to pass a vehicle on the left-hand-side:

163: "...If the queue on your right is moving more slowly than you are, you may pass on the left"

But the all-knowing Grauniad sez: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2011/apr/04/cyclists-pa...

Suffice to say, putting a sticker on what is basically a small car thinking it's an HGV makes a mockery of the whole thing. These were always intended (for ill or nay) as a warning to inexperienced cyclists around massive HGV's in dense urban environs.

Up With This We Should Not Put. Thin end of victim-blaming wedge, precedent-setting for culpable negligence etc etc.

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andyp replied to KiwiMike | 9 years ago
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KiwiMike wrote:

Note to lots of folks: You are legally allowed to pass a vehicle on the left-hand-side:

I think most people know that. It's legal....but stupid.

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Bez replied to andyp | 9 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

I don't ever pass vehicles on the inside. Cos ... it's dangerous.

andyp wrote:

I think most people know that. It's legal....but stupid.

To whom should we attribute the danger and the stupidity?

The people on bikes who ride there? The people in offices who design the roads that put the people on bikes there? The people in the buses and lorries who can't always see the people on bikes there? The people in offices who design buses and lorries than don't let their drivers see the people on bikes there? The people in offices who buy those buses and lorries?


It's not a simple thing.

Two things are very simple, though: (a) only one of those groups above contains the people who get injured or killed, and (b) every single one of the other groups are keen to shift as much blame as possible onto that group of victims.

(Note that none of the above groups include people who drive Peugeot Partners, because for them to be part of this equation requires them to simply be negligent and not look in their mirrors.)

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andyp replied to Bez | 9 years ago
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Bez wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

I don't ever pass vehicles on the inside. Cos ... it's dangerous.

andyp wrote:

I think most people know that. It's legal....but stupid.

To whom should we attribute the danger and the stupidity?

The people on bikes who ride there?

Yep. That one.

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Bez replied to andyp | 9 years ago
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andyp wrote:

Yep. That one.

So, logically, it would follow that you would also blame the driver of a vehicle in a left-hand "straight on" lane if the driver of a skip lorry in a right-hand "turn left" lane drove into them?

Because that's what the normal cycle lane arrangement is, and if no fault is attributable to anyone other than the person in the left-hand lane if their vehicle happens to be a bike then surely that must apply equally in this hypothetical scenario where their vehicle happens to be a car.

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Chris | 9 years ago
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Do not walk close to this vehicle at any time.
Inspired.
How does the driver get in?

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Bez | 9 years ago
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If the reasoning is one of blind spots, there's no more reason to stick a warning sticker on a Peugeot Partner than there is a Ford Fiesta. Do you have a similar sticker on your car? I assume not, in which case why defend one here?

But that's by the by. Europcar defended the sticker by citing doors opening, which is a junk defence because the law makes it very clear whose responsibility that is - and, again, there's no more reason to have a sticker here than there is on any vehicle. Again, do you have the same warning on your car?

To make that defence whilst snidely remarking that "some of [the victims] claim to be aware" that doors open comes across as contemptuous.

As for the pedestrian sticker, where to begin? It's insane.

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oozaveared | 9 years ago
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Cyclists Stay Back is offensive but "beware of passing on the inside" is less so.

I don't ever pass vehicles on the inside. Cos ... it's dangerous.

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kie7077 replied to oozaveared | 9 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

Cyclists Stay Back is offensive but "beware of passing on the inside" is less so.

I don't ever pass vehicles on the inside. Cos ... it's dangerous.

So you never filter then?

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oozaveared replied to kie7077 | 9 years ago
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kie7077 wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

Cyclists Stay Back is offensive but "beware of passing on the inside" is less so.

I don't ever pass vehicles on the inside. Cos ... it's dangerous.

So you never filter then?

Never between the the kerb (or roadside) and vehicles. Generally not between two lanes of traffic unless it's a really wide gap and there is some point to it and there's no way round the outside. Then I might take a view. I either go right round the outside of the vehicles or take my spot in my lane and keep it.

It's easier for me because I am generally not riding in London. I am mostly talking about dealing with slow moving or stationary single lane traffic.

Other experienced cyclists can take their own view on that and people generally know the likely behaviour of traffic they deal with daily so it's up to them. Inexperienced cyclists are however being encouraged to pass down the inside by the positioning of bike lanes and the lure of a bike box when they'd be much better of just sitting in their lane or passing on the outside.

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