Cycling Scotland with the backing of the Scottish Government set out to highlight a very important issue for cyclists on the road. Little did they realise that a whole can of worms was about to be opened! The resulting Think Horse ad (see below) was made to try and get motorists to think about the space they give cyclists as they pass by them. A good point and one that as a cyclist & a motorist is very valid. The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) however took it upon themselves to uphold complaints against the ad and ban it. They ruled that all cycling safety ads to be shown on TV must show all riders wearing helmets. They also stated that cyclists must ride no more than 0.5m from the side of the road!
You have to love it when people make decisions based on … well I’m not quite sure what! Ok, no one is going to argue that a helmet is something that should really be worn if you value your head. A helmet is a life saver (I know from experience), however it is not against the law to not wear a helmet in the UK (another hot topic) and there is no where in the law, highway code or elsewhere that states you must ride no more than 50cm from the kerb. So for an agency to take it upon themselves to ban this type of ad based on complaints about these issues is … well you decide. The ASA have a role and you can never please everyone when it comes to perceptions of any media broadcast. They do however seem to be missing the point. This ad is supposed to be purely and simply about motorists giving cyclists more room and thinking about cyclists as they overtake in a way they perhaps didn’t before. That’s it and I personally think the ad is quite cleverly made to highlight that point. It’s made with humour which helps to keep viewer attention and it’s not anti motorist which is important.
Cycling Scotland are appealing the decision! The ASA have now lifted the ban due to “a potential flaw in the decision” and an independent review is to be undertaken. Check out the Think Horse safety video below and make up your own mind. If the complaint was about a blacksmith trying to put a horse shoe onto a pair of cycling shoes or the beard scratching thing I might be able to understand the resulting ban a bit better!