Dear Niceway Code

I realise that since your official launch on August 5 this year you’ve had a lot to contend with. Come to think of it, the soft launch the previous week couldn’t have been much fun either. I guess you’ve learned the hard way that cycling activists are erudite, informed and happy to express their views. Or you may be thinking that we’re just opinionated gobshites.

I know your campaign’s been dismantled by many bloggers and journalists. The Cycling Embassy nicely (sorry) rounded them all up. The highlight for me was Jake Bate’s systematic dismantling of your efforts in social media. So why then am I adding to your misery? Well to be honest, I don’t want to cause you misery. I appreciate that, whoever was in charge, the person at the sharp end, staffing your Twitter account at 8pm on a Friday night, didn’t ask for this gig. However, I’ve tried pointing out to you the problem with your premiss and you’re not really listening. You have argued in the past that since drivers perceive cyclists’ law breaking to be a problem, the two groups would get along better if cyclists stopped breaking the law. Many people have pointed out to you that you need to challenge drivers’ perceptions, not cyclists’ behaviour. And here is a picture that sums this up for you, and this is why I’m writing to you.

Audi driver


As you can see, all the cyclists are waiting at a red light. I can see at least 10 in this picture so if Bradley Wiggins’ former manager is right and 90% of cyclists jump red lights, 90 went through the lights ahead of them, in the red phase. That’s a mother of a long red phase, or a lot of very quick and organised cyclists. So note, these cyclists are just there. They’re not doing anything wrong.

The driver in  contrast is breaking the law but is so unbothered about this that he’s quite happy to post evidence of his behaviour on a public forum, unsurprisingly since 81% of drivers break the law in this way. And he’s whinging. He’s breaking the law and he’s whinging about a law-abiding group of people. Now do you see our problem? Now do you see why it’s taking me so much effort not to call you a bunch of incompetent, ignorant, un-analytical, pissnumpty wombles who are actually doing a lot of damage by simply reinforcing and encouraging negative stereotypes whilst doing sweet fanny adams about actual law-breaking and dangerous behaviour?

Anyway, Niceway Code, there you have it. One picture which shows you everything that is wrong with your campaign. It is the people in charge of the heavy objects who are irresponsible lawbreakers. And somehow they’ve convinced you that the people getting from A to B using an ecologically sound form of transport that reduces congestion are in the wrong. And if you can’t see why that’s wrong, you’re thicker than I thought.

7 thoughts on “Dear Niceway Code

  1. First I’ve heard of the niceway code (since I live in the US), but from what I quickly read thanks to your link, I wholeheartedly agree! Sounds like a classic case of assigning blame to the marginalized group based on unjustified assumptions/claims made by the dominant group.

  2. @bikinginla was on to this from day 1 and I hope John Williams covers it on Centrelines in 2 weeks time. By Oscar Wilde’s assessment the campaign has had a small success. Everyone is talking about it, but for all the wrong reasons.

  3. Spot on Helen. I reluctantly cancelled my membership of the CTC over their endorsement of this trashy campaign. Lets hope the powers that be get it into their thick skulls that we are not going to tolerate nonsense like this any more.

  4. I posted about this a few days ago myself. It is infuriating. I think that everyone involved with sharing the road policies or campaigns should have to commute by bicycle for at least a week before they’re allowed any input. But the way “pissnumpty wombles” is my new favorite phrase from across the pond. Wonderful!

  5. When the Nice Way Code was being discussed, it was pointed out to Cycling Scotland, that there was a road safety campaign in Edinburgh a couple of years ago which featured bus ads aimed at drivers telling them to stay out ASLs and cyclist not to jump red lights. It was also followed up by police enforcement of both behaviours. After the campaign had finished figures where released as to the number of enforcement notices issued. The interesting thing was that more drivers than cyclists where caught jumping red lights…

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