Never mind "cyclists stay back", what about "drivers, watch for cyclists"?

They're big, they're yellow, they're angry and they're everywhere.  "Cyclists! Stay back!" they shout, and they seem to be stuck on the back (or even the side) of just about every working vehicle in London.

The ubiquitous yellow safety stickers first appeared on lorries as a warning to cyclists that they had massive blind spots, and slipping down their sides was a potentially fatal thing to do. But when Transport for London began requiring every contracted vehicle to also sport the stickers, they began to appear on vehicles ranging from-mini buses to ordinary cars; vehicles which are hampered not by blind spots but by the driver's failure to look.  Peter Walker of the Guardian explains very well just why these stickers seem particularly impertinent to cyclists.

There was uproar last summer as the yellow menace spread, and Transport for London agreed to begin replacing the stickers with more gently worded warnings to "avoid passing this vehicle on the inside".  But I can only assume the replacement stickers are lost in the post somewhere as just last night I saw what looked to be brand new "stay back" stickers on the rear window of two different taxis.

Popular cycling website turned their hand to sticker making and came up with these "Cyclists! Stay Awesome!" stickers, and I can appreciate the humour: too often it seems that signs shouting at people on bikes lurk around every corner.  Cyclists! Stay Back! Cyclists! Dismount! Cyclists! Stop at red! Cyclists! Proceed directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect £200!

So I was really happy to see the below sign on the exit gates of the Crossrail station construction site at Bond Street, which is busy with lorries day in and day out.  The message is bold, the message is simple, the message makes sense: "Drivers! Watch for cyclists!"


Maybe I bear a two-wheeled bias, but I'd like to see a lot more of these around town.  In fact, I have a proposal to make: I'll agree to anyone slapping a "Cyclists! Stay back!" marker on the back of their vehicle so long as they also agree to stick "Driver! Watch for cyclists!" on their steering wheel.  Seems like a fair deal to me, don't you think?

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Anonymous said...

Mark, we have described how cycling and road danger reduction organisations such as ours campaigned against the stickers at some length in 4 blog posts, the most recent of which is here: . While we have had basic pull back with TfL seeing sense, we're not happy with the fact that some vehicles which really should not have them on still do. We are going to have a review of the situation in a post on in the next couple of weeks. Watch this space.

Dr Robert Davis Road Danger Reduction Forum

Anonymous said...

It's all very well insisting that car and lorry drivers should be looking out for cyclists, and they should. But, in truth, the only way to stay reasonably safe on two wheels is to assume that you're as good as invisible, that no-one is looking and no-one cares. My experience riding bikes and m/bikes daily across central London is that lorry drivers are watching what's around them and make room, buses less so and cars not at all.

Anonymous said...

I always want to make an add on sticker to put below the "Cyclist! Stay back" stickers say "As I am textxing and may kill you".

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Dr Robert, that's a really interesting post and thank you for keeping up the pressure with TfL and others!

Mark Williams said...

Dear RDRF,
TFL have clearly not `seen sense'. Since you and the cycle campaigns put out your press releases crowing about this great victory, the stickers have been added to Boris Buses (whose design guide specifically prohibit decals on the rear), the sides of cement mixers et al. (as pointed out in this post) and all manner of other motor vehicles which previously did not have them. No sign of their being removed from motor vehicles which already had them, either. I shall stick with my `Motorists [car pic.] Stay back' t-shirt (even in winter) until TFL really do `see sense' (or the plastic from which the existing stickers are made decompose after a few decades).

Anonymous said...

Is it really that big a deal NOT to go up the inside of the vehicle that's at the head of the queue waiting for the lights?