Councillor pans bus campaign’s cycle safety advice

The Nice Way Code advice on the back of a Lothian bus
The Nice Way Code advice on the back of a Lothian bus
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CITY council leader Andrew Burns has launched a scathing attack on bus ads encouraging cyclists to weave into the ­middle of traffic when overtaking buses.

Cllr Burns has used his official online blog page to slam the pre-booked ads running on the back of Lothian Bus vehicles across Edinburgh.

The posters are designed to keep cyclists safe.

They instruct two-wheelers not to undertake buses on the left – even if a designated cycle lane exists – and to only overtake on the right “if you must”.

The ads are part of the ­Scottish Government’s £500,000 Nice Way Code ­campaign, which asks ­people to make small changes to increase road safety.

But the national campaign has been widely panned by cycling campaigners, who have labelled it a “waste of money” from a nanny state.

Now Cllr Burns, who cycles daily to the City Chambers, has wheeled into the debate saying he does not like the messaging used on the buses his own local authority controls either.

He has urged the ­Government to either alter the anti-undertaking slogans or delete them all together.

He says: “To the very best of my knowledge, it simply is not illegal to undertake vehicles on a bike – and I am not equating what’s legal with what’s safe.

“Every working day of my life I ‘undertake’ vehicles – cars, taxis, vans, buses and occasionally lorries. On every occasion I do so I do it legally, I try and do it as safely as I can and I do it very, very carefully.”

He added: “Frankly, overtaking any vehicle – into an oncoming traffic lane – can be just as dangerous as irresponsibly undertaking a vehicle.”

Kim Harding, the Edinburgh spokesman for campaign group Pedal on Parliament, branded the bus-ad campaign a “shambles”.

He said: “When they first came up with the slogan it was originally going to be on the right was ‘be my guest’. That got changed to ‘if you must’ because it was felt they shouldn’t be encouraging ­people to overtake.

“If there’s a bus stopped at a bus stop, what are you supposed to do? Wait behind it until it moves off again?”

A total of 150 ads are being displayed in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Dave du Feu, from fellow pro-cycling campaigners Spokes, said he feared the ads could inflame motorists’ anger at cyclists. He fears the posters will reinforce “false image” that cyclists are irresponsible.

The campaign asks drivers to give cyclists more space and overtake care, while calling on riders to obey red lights and not cycle on ­pavements. A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said the wording of the ads had been decided based on focus groups run by Cycling Scotland and its creative agency, Newhaven.

The spokeswoman said: “Key messages were also developed in partnership with an experienced cycle tutor.”

Transport Scotland said cyclists who overtake queueing traffic “should be encouraged to pass on the right where they are more visible to drivers and other road users”.