Cycling Scotland advert banned over 'no helmet'


The ASA said showing a rider without a helmet could encourage behaviour "prejudicial to health and safety"

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A television advert promoting safe cycling has been banned for showing a rider without a helmet.

The advert, part of a campaign by Cycling Scotland, seeks to encourage drivers to give cyclists the same space and care as they would give a horse.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it should not be shown on TV again as not wearing a helmet was "socially irresponsible".

Cycling Scotland said wearing a helmet was not a legal requirement.

The national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland told the ASA wearing a helmet was a personal choice for the individual - a fact it considered was reflected in the advert with footage of various cyclists both with, and without, helmets.

Cycling Scotland also referred to its helmet policy, which discussed the possible undesired outcomes of wearing helmets, including limiting uptake of cycling and "influencing a driver's behaviour to be less careful when interacting on the road".

still from advert Some of the cyclists in the advert were wearing helmets

A further complaint that the cyclist was riding too far from the kerb was also dismissed by Cycling Scotland.

It said that given the width of the road featured in the advert, the cyclist was safer riding out past the area where cars would be parked so they could be clearly visible to other road users.

It told the ASA the shoot for the advert was supervised by one of its most experienced cycling instructors.

The ASA, which received complaints from five viewers, acknowledged the advert was primarily aiming to encourage motorists to take care when driving near cyclists.

'Socially irresponsible'

It noted that the cyclist in the final scene was not wearing a helmet or any other safety attire and appeared to be more than half a metre from the parking lane.

It said: "We understood that UK law did not require cyclists to wear helmets or cycle at least 0.5 metres from the kerb.

"However, under the Highway Code it was recommended as good practice for cyclists to wear helmets. Therefore, we considered that the scene featuring the cyclist on a road without wearing a helmet undermined the recommendations set out in the Highway Code.

"Furthermore, we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb, they appeared to be located more in the centre of the lane when the car behind overtook them and the car almost had to enter the right lane of traffic.

"Therefore, for those reasons we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety."

It ruled that the advert must not be broadcast again in its current form.

Cycling Scotland was told that any future adverts featuring cyclists should be shown wearing helmets and placed in the most suitable cycling position.

A statement issued by Cycling Scotland said it was "disappointed" with the adjudication of the ASA that future ads should always feature cyclists wearing helmets.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    On yer bike you should wear everything you can to make you safe - BUT should also obey the same rules that the car drivers do AND do not expect them to be clairvoyant! I watch cyclists very carefully and I see very few who watch me at all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    I genuinely don't understand why people don't wear helmets. They take about 3 seconds to put on and take off and then tah dah you've decreased your chances of having a serious brain injury or being killed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    If you ride a bike you should ware a helmet end of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Interesting how many people think it's wrong for a cyclist to be positioned anywhere other than in the gutter of the road. A bicycle is a vehicle, just the same as a car, and there is no requirement for them to cycle in any particular part of the road. Being smaller and slower than a car does not give you fewer rights on the road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Helmets should be compulsory, a change in the law is required.

    This will protect the cyclist, in the same way as seat belts in cars are compulsory and protect the occupants.

    Ridiculous that there is even a debate on this.

    Why would a cyclist not wear a helmet?


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