Some of you might remember the mess the DfT got themselves into over the Knockin' Noggins game they featured on their website in May of last year. The basic premise was that you could use a mallet to whack unlidded children on the head to 'teach them a lesson'; not surprisingly there was a furore and the game was quickly pulled.
However, the warning shots don't seem to have deterred the game makers and now the site features a new game - Be Bright, Be Seen - in which children who aren't wearing enough hi-viz clothing get run over by cars despite appearing to do their best to adhere to the Highway Code.
'Dress brightly in cool gear if it's hospital you fear' runs the rather awkward strapline and the basic premise of the game seems to be based on the classic blame-the-victim mentality that's beloved of the car-centric meddlers in central Government. Start the game and children start to walk towards a busy road, and you're supposed to click on them to add hi-viz gear to their appearance.
Click enough and they cross the road safely; get it wrong and despite the kids stopping to look and listen and otherwise behave in a sensible manner, there's an accident. 'Oh Dear', opines the game next to an image of a broken child, 'the cars didn't see you' - as if that's an unavoidable consequence of failing to light yourself up like a Christmas tree, rather than any failing on the part of the motorist.
Somewhere buried in there there's a sensible safety message: it's a decent idea for kids to wear bright clothes after dark. But that message is lost in the unimaginably crass and tactless way that it's conveyed. For all that you can say 'It's just a game', it's a blatant reinforcement of the car-is-king worldview that seems to come from the top of Government down these days. Just look at what's actually happening in the game. Some children are going to a funfair, and attempting to cross the road in a safe manner, doing the things they've been told to do. Despite this they get hit by a car that's going too fast. And we're supposed to think this is the child's fault?
Get a grip, DfT.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.