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 111.

    The car driver is not wearing a helmet and far more lives would be saved by making all car users wear helmets than by making than cyclists wear them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    "we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb..." - duh - the cyclist may be getting in lane for a right hand turn, as she would have every right to do. It annoys me that some people think that unless you dress up in helmets and high vis gear and stick glued to the kerb you have no right to be on the road on a bike. Not so!

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    #98 -

    "I've seen cyclists break red lights therefore they are all bad/should be kept off the road/should not hold me up etc, etc"

    That is basically racisim. Why do people group all cyclists together rather than the dangerous road users? If people don't comply with the law it is a police matter.


    "That is basically racisim" - hilarious - funniest thing I've read all week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    As a cyclist I have see more risky cyclists than drivers.
    On main roads instead of clearly marked cycle paths, bells seldom used to warn pedestrians of bike nearing, not giving way to pedestrians or busses.
    I blame cyclists for stupidity, lack of road awareness/arrogance. At least a horse has horse sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.


    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.'

    Try getting on a bike and see how it feels to be run off the road by a 4x4 driver. You'd blame them too.

  • Comment number 106.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    85. Pootles
    'People get killed just falling from a standing position and hitting the head'

    Perhaps it should be law that we all wear helmets when walking as well?
    Nanny State!

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    And elecric or gas cars that pay no tax? people who walk on pavements? horse riders who use roads?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    The ASA:
    * Won't ban pornographic adverts (NO to censorship!)
    * Won't stop risqué/ "greed is good"/ fast-food adverts before watershed until x000's of parents complain,
    * Can't punish for misleading marketing like "Vitamin Water" (should be called "Caffeine Water") unless Coca Cola puts those adverts on television...

    On the other hand, the ASA is against drivers being more aware of cyclists!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    This is ridiculous. Getting people cycling, especially in the city, means making it accessible and convincing people that it's not a sport and that it doesn't require a lot of gear. I've recently been working in Dublin, where cycling is far more popular than it is here (there's even a city bike scheme) and hundreds of cycles use the roads every day, only about half of whom wear helmets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Magician: I advise you to get your facts right. Just Google it, mate!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    I wish we could have more dedicated cycle paths in this country like Holland does, I have to pick between the roads full of dangerous drivers (red lights appear to be optional for drivers in Birmingham these days) or an 'official' cycle route full of dog walkers more concerned with having a natter than keeping an eye on their animals :(

    'Shared use' only works when all parties give a ****

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    "I've seen cyclists break red lights therefore they are all bad/should be kept off the road/should not hold me up etc, etc"

    That is basically racisim. Why do people group all cyclists together rather than the dangerous road users? If people don't comply with the law it is a police matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    On my way to work this morning 7 cyclists who went through red lights and one way streets the wrong way.
    In addition number of cyclists who have no lights on bikes at all cause a nuisance on the road. I go stopped by the Police for one blown bulb but cyclists get away with it! Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The ASA have proved that they don't understand cycling.. or UK law, which does not require helmets.. or many studies showing that helmets don't always help.

    I always wear a cycling helmet, but to suggest that not doing so is "irresponsible" is crazy. By this decision the ASA are perpetuating the myth that cycling is a dangerous activity - in fact the 'net' benefit/risk ratio is hugely positive!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    All this "road tax" and "vehicle excise duty" etc is all semantics. Irrespective of what it's called it's a tax to fund road use just as "fuel duty" is paid at the filling station together with general taxation VAT. So apart from the VAT on a bikes purchase (which isn't road fund specific) it appears that the motorist is constantly paying for roads. It isn't general tax funded as some think

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.


    In my cycling experience, the girl in the picture is safer than the majority of helmeted cyclists.

    I've never had safer rides than when cycling within 5 metres of the invisible curtain of protection offered by a girl with long blonde hair visible freely.

    Leave the 5 metre bubble and those vans that stopped will flatten you just to get 2 more seconds gawping at her.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    It is only sensible to wear a helmet when cycling. It is strange that an advertisement designed to promote safer cycling failed to use helmets in all instances.

    It is quite pointless to argue that because not wearing a helmet is perfectly legal one need not be worn as wearing a helmet makes the ride that bit safer.

    The law is an inadequate medium whereas good sense is enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Another cyclist who refuses to ride close to the kerb. Also fed up with cyclists who cycle two a breast.

    Cycling is good, but they must respect other road users. Sadly many do not.


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