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VIDEO: Why Is UK Government “Victim Blaming” Cyclists?

By Frantiska Blazkova
A UK government-sponsored video has caused quite the stir among the cycling community in Britain. The campaign named THINK! aims to bring road safety to all traffic participants, including motorists, cyclists, and lorry drivers, but the last group mentioned is actually at the center of this debate.


The video shows various situations and “things you shouldn’t get caught in between”, such as a wrecking ball and a wall, a meat cleaver and a cutlet, or the aforementioned lorry and a left turn. The video continues to show a cyclist being crushed by a lorry in such left turn just because he didn’t “hang back”. And that’s where the rub is. Many representatives and cyclists, including Caroline Russel, the Green Party’s transport spokesperson, see this as a dangerous victim blaming, because it asks cyclists to stay back instead of urging lorry drivers not to riskily overtake at junctions while simultaneously putting cyclists in their blind spot.

According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, one third of all collisions between lorries and cyclists happen at left turns. The spokesperson of the Department for Transportation, when asked to comment on this situation, issued a following statement:

“We want to protect vulnerable road users by raising awareness of specific dangers, and research shows that a large number of road incidents involving cyclists are with lorries at junctions. The THINK! road safety campaign is aimed at cyclists, motorists and HGV drivers, and they all have a role to play in improving safety.”

The overall opinion is that the campaign was well-intentioned but the point it made was somehow controversial. Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety officer, commented with: “The THINK! campaign should be a powerful voice for helping to change road practice, but unfortunately sometimes its messaging is wrong.”

Do you think that UK government still sees cyclists as the proverbial fly in your soup?