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 31.

    "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."
    Err, Ninety nine percent of overtaking involves crossing the centre of the carriageway. If you haven't mastered this simple skill you shouldn't be driving..

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I really detest this tribal society we live in, and how intolerant the anti-cyclists are. Having lived in both the UK and Holland, I can tell you the wide and un-restricted use of cycles as a means of transport only adds to the quality of life in Holland. Lets get out of our cars, and get this fat and unbalanced country back outside. Helmets only make cycling more inconvenient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    See Cyclist, Think Horse? This is the best they can come up with in Scotland? And then they put a woman on a bike without a helmet. Did someone in the agency know Salmond? Or Donald Trump?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Is it Law now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    If cyclists actually adhered to the laws of the road things would be much easier. Cyclists need to take more responsibility for their own safety instead of constantly blaming drivers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The ASA is one of the most hypocritical quango. One moment they upheld about something relatively mild by banned them and then something equally or more offensive they are happy to not rule against. The ASA has their own opinion but frequently breeches its own guidelines and not fit for purpose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    I would have banned it as the woman has fallen foul of the police... The fashion police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Absolutely appalling. Message is clear: really no need to pull out to pass a cyclist, drivers. Just force them into the gutter where they belong. Cyclists allowed only so long as do not cause even a moments delay to those important people in big cars. The helmet issue is just a fig leaf.

  • 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?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The whole premise of the ad is ridiculous because most drivers DO NOT think horse when they see a horse being ridden and do not slow down or allow space for safety. Most drivers consider horse riders a nuisance as they slow them down and feel the same about horseboxes/trailers. No thought given to the horse inside trying to stand up whilst going along - they don't have hands to grab on with!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Dear cyclists, please use the cycle lanes provided for your safety. There are lots around, yet every day there are cyclists jamming up dual carriageways (speed limit up to 70) when there is a perfectly usable bike lane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    First thing I noticed was the distnace from the kerb she was hehe.

    I've not seen the advert but maybe if the person who was filming her was stationery then she had to pull out to avoid hitting them!
    Alternatively if the cameraman was in a moving vehicle then it would be clear there were no parked cars so she should have been 0.5m from the kerb.
    God I have too much time on my hands

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    If other road users respected us cyclists and if some cyclists didn't ride like maniacs, then there would be no need for helmets and this kind of nanny state interference in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Firstly, wearing a helmet is the choice of the cyclist and is often used as a way of deflecting from the responsibility of the car/lorry/van driver. The driver is in a big metal box and should have enough knowledge/judgement to avoid crashing into a cyclist. Cyclists must also obey road rules, however drivers nust take responsibility for their driving style.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    If only the roads I have to cycle on were that wide... :-/ The ad's heart is in the right place, but the specifics do let it down. Another problem for me is that the car isn't shown signalling during what is, after all, technically an overtaking maneouvre.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    No, insurance required, no helmet required, no license required, no compulsory safety checks, you don't even have to do the cycling proficiency test....

    So why do the tax disks on my Motorcycles say taxation class Bicycle and I need to have a license, MOT, insurance and a helmet to be on the road?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Re Gordon - what an appalling attitude. I'm a cyclist, biker and car-driver, so I can appreciate multiple viewpoints. You should be utterly ashamed of your statement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    See cyclist, think horse ... ie see how close you can drive without your wing mirror touching the rider's leg? That's how too many folk drive. While I'd never ride my horse or motorbike without a hat or helmet, I've never had a helmet for my bike. What next? Padded clothing and helmets for hillwalkers in case they fall?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Many people choose not to wear a helmet. It's not compulsory. Often it's because it messes up their hair. And of course, there should be no need to wear one if motor vehicles would follow the Highway Code. Cycling is about as safe as walking, but you don't see pedestrians wearing helmets in case a driver mounts the curb.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    So they've banned an advert... not for promoting hate speech... or for inciting violence... but because a cyclist was not wearing a helmet... which is not even a legal requirement in the UK... Classic...


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