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 91.

    Has anyone complained that the driver of the SL is deliberately risking his life by driving a 1970s convertible that fails to meet modern safety standards ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    This ignorance and prejudice toward cycling evidenced by the ASA decision and a few of the comments below is hardly surprising considering that Scotland is ranked 2nd worst for obesity in the developed world only after the USA. Ill bet some of the anti cyclist lot (and the ASA officersv who banned this) get wheezy and out of breath just typing their comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    This is not really about helmets it is about the ASA being able to force their opinion on others. The add is deliberately trying to show that there are all types of riders BUT this is not acceptable to the ASA. I think the ASA should be made more accountable and have a proper appeal process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    To all those that down voted my earlier post (16)

    I took the cycling proficiency test at the age of 7, since then I have passed both car and motorcycle tests at the first attempt.. applying the same rules learnt in that early test to my driving...
    I asked a question that no one has bothered to answer, why shouldn't cyclist be asked to have compulsory third party insurance and safety equipment

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    I wear a helmet to protect my head if I fall off my bike due to a pothole etc. Not to protect me in the event of being hit by a car.

    The responsibility to avoid accidents is the duty of both the cyclist and vehicle driver. I do my bit as a cyclist and when driving a car for other cyclists. Sadly there are many car drivers who do not, and have no experience of cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    see cyclist...think horse. She's not that bad looking is she?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    James StGeorge - it's not true that helmets are only any use at speed. I had a relative killed in a cycle accident when not wearing a helmet. It wasn't the speed, but the impact of the head hitting the curb as she fell. People get killed just falling from a standing position and hitting the head, even when bicycles aren't involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    See Lasagne. Think Horse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Oh well! Not wearing a helmet! She is also not wearing trousers, which in an accident could provide sufficient protection for her legs... her skirt also looks too long and so she runs the risk of getting it caught in the wheels... oh, and she isn't looking where she is going in the picture.
    Maybe whilst we're at it she should be wearing high-vis strips in case of low-light conditions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I bet the lady on the bike is delighted at being thought of as a horse....

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    It would be great if drivers treated a bicycle with the same respect accorded to other moving vehicles.

    Cycling proficiency teaches how to safely deal with other road users.

    Driving lessons should be pro-active in training new drivers on how to deal with cyclists!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I use to cycle to work but have given up.....not due to weather or the condition of the roads (I have had several buckled wheels through potholes).
    The reason? I want to remain healthy. I would estimate I would get 'clipped' AT LEAST once a week by cars coming too close and/or pulling out of junctions when I'm going at speed down a hill. Who would provide for my family if something happened to me?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Have you ever seen anyone who have had their head smashed in from not wearing a cycle helmet? You would understand and accept the rationale of the ASA if you had.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Inappropriate shoes me thinks, and a flabby dress an accident waiting to happen

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    "socially irresponsible"... it's a shame the ASA don't use the same criteria for payday loan companies, look at any photo of cyclists in Denmark or Netherlands and you will be lucky to see one helmet

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    is the next advert? See Walker. Think Shanks's Pony?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Once again a group which appears to know nothing about cycling thinks it can comment. Could they be referred to the British Medical Journal Editorial
    Bicycle helmets and the law
    BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 12 June 2013)
    Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3817,
    and the comments on it

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    In 2008 I arrived in Auckland, I stood outside the airport trying to make sense of time difference and familiarise my self with my new surroundings, I was standing by the side of AUK close to the bike sheds and noticed signs saying, it is illegal in new Zealand not to wear a helmet, and you can be fined $50NZD minimum for not wearing one, why do we not have such common-sense laws here???

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Wearing helmets has not been shown to be safer than not wearing them. While protecting from minor bumps and bruises, they simply cause different injuries due to the additional leverage or rotational force. The small studies done so far have concluded there is no significant benefit at cycling speeds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    She looks nothing like a horse.


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