Where do I begin...
Umm.....hmmmm...OK......I'm going to have to say it......
Oops! Sorry about that. I've said something on a blog I promised a while back I wouldn't say again. Unfortunately, I need to say it again. Fear not though, this is not a blog about the NWC. The NWC is an innocent (ahem) bystander in something much, much bigger. Firstly though, you have to watch a video. Yes it is an NWC video......I know, I know..... but.....please do watch it. It will all become clear shortly....
.....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.The ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.1 and 4.4 (Harm and offence).
........1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.......and breath........Action
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Cycling Scotland that any future ads featuring cyclists should be shown wearing helmets and placed in the most suitable cycling position.
So, what we have here, is the ASA telling Cycling Scotland (and yes I'm not always their biggest fan), how to tell cyclists how to cycle. Apparently not wearing a helmet is socially irresponsible. (Sorry Netherlands, you are a country of reprobates). Apparently cycling away from the curb (and I'm sorry ASA, but this lady is not cycling in the middle of the lane, no-where near it!), avoiding the cobbles and the potholes (yes take a look right at the end of the video, there are some craters there), is likely to lead to harm and offence.
I've heard the phrases 'you couldn't make it up', and ' life is often stranger than fiction' used before, but NEVER have they been more appropriate than they are now.
Yes, the NWC was terrible. Yes I would have been happy had the adverts been banned at the time. Yes there were some aspects of the NWC that I think were offensive and would lead to harm, and yet, here we are, long after the NWC has voluntarily closed the doors on the campaign, and we have the ASA banning one of the adverts based based on the only part of their advert campaign that actually demonstrated how cycling could and should be done.
I don't have the superlatives in my vocabulary to convey my astonishment at this. I'm sorry. I'll just have to say Blimey! again.
All of this madness does raise an few questions:
Has the person who wrote this from the ASA actually ever ridden a bike?
Has the person who wrote this from the ASA actually ever seen a bike?
Where in the Highway Code is there any mention about cyclists riding about 0.5m from the curb?
Where in the video did the cyclist ride in the middle of the lane?
Does the ASA think the drivers head will explode if his car is forced to cross the central dividing line?
Does the ASA think there in no justification for taking the middle of the lane?
Does the ASA have some facts about the life saving properties of polystyrene that they would like to share with us?
Is the ASA suggesting that when I go riding with my kids and I don't wear a helmet that I am being socially irresponsible?
Has the ASA ever heard of a country called the Netherlands?
Is the ASA willing to pop over there and tell the Dutch in a public meeting that they are being socially irresponsible by not wearing helmets when they are cycling?
Is the ASA really being serious that Cycling Scotland, in all future adverts have to advertise cycling, and encourage more people to cycle, by having everyone in their adverts dressed up in hi-vis and helmets? Seriously?!
Does this ASA ruling apply to all future advertising of any nature about cycling?
Does the ASA think that cycling like this lady did, and wearing what she did is more or less socially responsible than...... driving to work every day, sitting in heavy traffic, belching CO2 and other pollutants out which are a risk for peoples health, putting other road users at greater risk (cars represent greater risk than bikes no matter what way you look at it), increasing the risk of early death through reduced exercise and contributing to increasing levels of congestion?
I look forward to some answers.......
The full ASA adjudication an be found here for your reading pleasure.