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Why did the ASA decide to tell the nation how they should ride bikes? - BikeBiz

Why did the ASA decide to tell the nation how they should ride bikes?

COMMENT: It's been a lively news week, and not just because of the Advertising Standard Authority's foot-in-mouth moment
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It's been a hectic week for the bike trade, not only because a good portion of us were heading to and from Northamptonshire for trade shows, but also for some eye-catching headlines from the world of cycling.

There was welcome news in the shape of the latest figures from the Cycle to Work Alliance, with record numbers of employees participating in the scheme designed to encourage the nation to commute by bicycle. 

The cycle community also roundly welcomed the decision by London authorities to ban 'unsafe HGVs' from the capital. London grabbed the headlines again for installing the UK's first low level traffic light for cyclists at Bow Roundabout.

North of the border there was good news too, with Scotland's new coast-to-coast route set to boost businesses.

Globally, the news that Specialized was pulling out of Eurobike for 2014, choosing to spend its marketing cash on dealer shows instead, set a few industry tongues wagging.

The week was also (arguably) notable for seeing the latest attempt from Westminster to put compulsory helmet wearing for cyclists back on the agenda (hurrah!). This time it was Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth choosing to put a possibly ill-advised foot into the divisive debate.

Which brings me neatly round to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) debacle, where the body ruled that television advertising featuring cyclists must show cyclists wearing helmets and riding in the gutter rather than riding too close to what the ASA said was the "parking lane". They later retracted the statement, but the initial judgement had a whiff of being hugely under researched.

I'll hold my hand up here, from the outside looking in, the cycle community probably appears quick to react and cry foul (though that's probably because there's a lot of rubbish written and said about cycling), but wouldn't that have made you think twice about making a ruling on an advert about cycling without doing some careful research in the first place?

The error is hardly the end of the world, and to be fair to the ASA they were relatively quick to announce an independent review on its initial controversial ruling. But it did perhaps illustrate that there are many widely held misconceptions about cycling, like that of those who ride away from the pavement (or indeed the 'parking lane') are doing so out of some smug sense of entitlement, rather than for safety. The sooner the cycle world can spread the word on points like that, the better.

How we deliver the message and others like it is undoubtedly important if we want to be taken notice of. Maybe someone could put together an advert. Oh...wait.






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