Road Safety News

'Think Bikes' campaign goes global

Wednesday 28th January 2015

A campaign developed last year by the AA to encourage drivers to look out for those on two wheels is being rolled out globally by the FIA, the world motoring organisation.

‘Think Bikes’, which features a naked cyclist, was launched by the AA Charitable Trust in March 2014. To date the campaign film has had almost 270,000 YouTube views, but now has the potential to reach millions more drivers across 111 FIA motoring clubs in in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: "We are so proud of how well received the campaign has been in its first year and are delighted by this latest development.

"The original idea came from one of our patrols (Tony Rich) following the death of a family friend on a motorbike, and its goal has always been to reach the greatest number possible to improve the safety of cyclists and bikers."

Jacob Bangsgaard, FIA Region I director general, said: "Think Bikes was a playful but important reminder that drivers must keep vulnerable road users in mind, especially when driving in city centres where 33% of the traffic is on bikes, motorcycles or scooters.

"This is why we are launching the FIA campaign for Think Bikes and encouraging our members to raise awareness about this vital road safety message."

As part of the campaign, around two million wing mirror stickers have been distributed as a reminder to drivers to do a double take for cyclists and bikers. The stickers are available free of charge to organisations and individuals.



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Duncan MacKillop is 100% correct. Programs like this are a waste of time thought up by people with no clue about how actual humans understand the world.
Cer Ledbetter

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May I make comment on Iain's contribution (three posts below this). I am probably one of the busiest contributors and I do not feel the need to defend that position.

I also feel that one needs to read the comments from Nick's own thread about contributors and the value of the remarks from others who basically appear to favour an open style forum which involves and encourages open discourse from a variety of perspectives, disciplines and backgrounds.

I am one of those so called amateurs, or should I say possibly lay persons (non specialist - well in qualifications only). However my interest and commitment to road safety is not lessened by these facts. My specialisation is in motorcycle safety in particular as an under represented minority group. Because of this fact and I will strive to continue to put forward my views an as individual for the benefit of other motorcyclists.

By doing so I am hoping that by debate and argument attitudes can be affected and that knowledge can be presented to support justification for that change to take place.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is safe Campaign

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Matt and Nick:
I am more than happy to share the knowledge that our little group has acquired about road accident causation. Rather than detail it here it would be best for you to check out our website at

There's lots more stuff that we need to add of course, but the basics are in there in what we hope is an understandable form. For those who don't want to spend any time reading the various articles our philosophy can be described as:

"All road accidents are the result of prediction failure. The surprise is Nature's way of telling us that we have suffered from such a failure. If there is no surprise there can be no accident".

The aim of our little project is to help road users to understand the prediction process and its various failure modes and to apply perceptual learning techniques to make them better and less error prone at the prediction task. One of the ways in which we will do this is to explain that the eye is not a passive recorder, but is a complex detector that is interested in extracting only the edges and colours from a scene and how they are moving in time and space. That's why I asked the question about the retina because understanding how it works is crucial to understanding how people can miss seeing a dirty great motorbike that is clearly in plain sight. Once we understand the failure mode we can then go about working out strategies that will help people overcome it or what actions other road users could take to ameliorate its effect.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident

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This issue of "seeing" has been covered before, and is worthy of repeating.

And again, a link to a quite comprehensive comment from an RAF pilot on what we see and what we do not see.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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I wonder, a month on, whether it is time to remind people of your New Year's plea again - I have just counted up the posts on this week's topics (sad I know). To date, there are 50 across the 5 topics, from 16 different contributors (excluding you). Two individuals have posted 10 times or more, and one has posted on 4 of the 5 topics. I accept that boards such as this can encourage bilateral conversations but we often seem to get into horn locking rather than elucidation for the bystander (so to speak). Maybe people should self-limit to 5 comments a week - if one can't get one's point across in 5 posts, one should maybe reflect further before posting. And if people insist on ignoring self-regulation, maybe you could become the regulator yourself, in a more interventionist way?
Iain, Northern Ireland

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Following on from Matt's post we would welcome an opinion piece from you along the lines he suggests. That would give other people an opportunity to comment on your suggestions/solutions etc.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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I do find it increasingly frustrating that a number of your comments across the newsfeed appear to just be trying to prove you know more than the rest of us about a particular topic but fail to share the knowledge you propose to have. Rather than embarking on this pointless act of one-upmanship it would be far more pertinent to the discussion and the spirit of the newsfeed (sharing and discussing road safety news) if you would add the knowledge to the discussion and also maybe suggest how it can be practically applied? Maybe you could offer to do an opinion piece on the psychology of "looked but failed to see" collisions so we can understand the issues you describe better?

Or, for the purposes of this specific discussion, maybe you could enlighten us and provide your answer to the question?
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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Once again you have turned the argument or discussion round. The question is not the requirement to teach others the intricacies of the cognitive functions of the human brain. Something as you mentioned that only scientist or boffins could do, but as I mentioned before put simply it's to educate drivers how to recognised what they see. I am sure that when it comes to vision the Royal Air Force must be able to instruct its pilots on these matters. Why not us then?

As I see it, put simply the eyes are the windows to the world and are able to view everything but the brain takes those images, disregards those that are not considered important or relevant and then determines and identifies the rest. All this based on its previous knowledge learned.

Under hypnosis this has been proved as information not considered important by the brain or relevant at the time though seen can be introduced with great detail.

This is also true that one can function for a period of time without the link between eyes and brains. How many of us have travelled a road and then thought how did I get here? The eyes obviously were working but the brain did not register the last few minutes or miles.

Nobody needs to answer your question but you probably will and I would suppose it a simple answer but made complicated.

We don't need to be all that knowledgeable to do that. Perhaps we could ask you to simplify what it is the problems are. There are papers that already do that, and to bring forward a simple learning plan so that many drivers and motorcyclists would benefit from seeing and being seen.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaign

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In order for anybody to teach people how their brain and visual cortex works Bob, the teacher must first acquire that knowledge for themselves. Armed with that knowledge the teacher can indeed break things down into the simple baby steps which will help with the transfer of knowledge between teacher and student.

Just as a bit of a test as to what we teachers know about brains and vision, would anybody like to take a stab at answering this question?

Q - There are 150 million light sensitive cells contained within the retina yet there are only 1 million nreve fibres in the optic pathway leading into the brain. Could anybody tell me what happens to all the data?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Can't agree wholeheartedly with that Duncan. I appreciate that there are endless books about the subject and how we are as human beings flawed. The answer has to be there somewhere and to teach everyone how to use their brains to understand first of all how to look properly, what to look for and what to recognise and act upon. Understanding just what they are seeing and how to look for it can be broken down into steps. Otherwise we are up the Swanny river without a paddle and may as well just not bother.

The two circumstances as I see it (no pun inended) are looking from point to point and missing whatever is in between. The second is of looming, as a motorcycle failing to appear larger as it gets closer. This gives us a problem with the oncoming speed, that is if the motorcycle was seen or recognised in the first place.

The final point is that this appears not to be a widespread problem otherwise it would occur more often. Some persons do the right thing and stop longer, look longer and enable motorcyclists to live longer.
Bob craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner

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'See and be Seen' seems simple to me.

That's the very essence of the problem Bob. Seeing seems simple, but it's very far from simple, very far indeed.

If anybody is interested in learning how complex vision is then there are a couple of books I would recommend. Visual Intelligence by Donald Hoffman and Eye and Brain by Richard Gregory. Once you have read those books you will understand how teaching people to look out for bikes is a far more difficult process than putting some stickers on a wing mirror.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Nothing new... To my understanding several years ago some 300 or so naked bikers, both male and female, were seen riding round London streets in order to bring attention to this same matter. As said nothing new and that didn't win any awards.

I have said for sometime that at times there is a greater than 1% of motorcycle traffic on our roads. The fact that it appears to be as high as 33% on certain main roads at certain times such as commuting time and that is something one has to be borne in mind. With close proximity due to volume comes problems.

I believe that many of these confrontations could be avoided with the giving of greater space between vehicles. That space would enable the apparently less visible but more vulnerable two wheeler (indeed all other vehicles) to be observed earlier and given greater consideration. Perhaps something should or could be drawn up to assist drivers to use what vision we have more wisely. I would presume that at this time they are told to look right, look left, right again then if clear proceed. etc.

Understanding that we apparently have several design faults or defects in our visual ability then surely we should train people to at least look properly? At vehicles, at the space between vehicles, and for the possibility that there is a hidden vehicle tailgating the one that can be seen.

'See and be Seen' seems simple to me.

Perhaps someone can come up with an addition to the training manual as we seem to have known about it for many years but no one seems to be addressing the problem. Why?
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner

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As a long time motorcyclist who has ridden abroad in France, and who has conversed with others on the attitude towards cyclists and motorcyclist when in France, the difference between that country and this in respect of being seen and waited for is huge. In France one is recognised and respected compared to the UK. Returning and riding off the ferry can be quite a culture shock. Why? It's not the density of vehicles, and it's not the fact that per vehicle mile/kilometer there are more accidents in France than the UK. Why should riders feel safer in France than the UK?

Stickers on a wing mirror further reducing rearward visibility? This is exactly the twisted irresponsible attitude that persists in the UK's 'safety conscious' society.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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Sorry Nick, I must have completely misinterpreted the following statements in the press release.

"important reminder that drivers must keep vulnerable road users in mind"

"the vast majority of drivers admit it is sometimes hard to see those on two wheels"

"has the potential to reach millions more drivers"

"a reminder to drivers to do a double take"
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Your post below - who said anything about 'blaming the driver'?
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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There will be tens of thousands of car/bike interactions every day yet only a very tiny number of these result in a collision. It stands to reason therefore that drivers generally have absolutely no problem in detecting and avoiding cyclists and motorcyclists.

Attempting a publicity campaign to make people better at something they are already exceptionally good at is hardly a good use of resources is it? Much better to spend a little time in understanding that car/bike collisions are not entirely down to inattention, but are the result of a number of discrete factors that in combination set up the collision. Admittedly it's much easier to blame the driver for some shortcoming rather than working out what these factors are, but when you understand these factors it's really not such a difficult problem to fix.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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A very interesting article, thank you Duncan.

This kind of campaign is designed to address the conscious direction of attention towards cyclists and motorcyclists. While we may not be able to do much about our inattentional blindness and errors of this type will still occur, we can improve what we focus our attention on.

Also, in relation to inattentional blindness, by making cyclists and motorcyclists more relevant to a driver, it will improve thier cognitive conspicuity, and by increasing the number of two-wheel users expectation will increase.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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We have had "Think Bike" campaigns and initiatives on one form or another for nearly 60 years now. They have never worked simply because the problem they are addressing is not the problem that actually exists.

Encouraging drivers to look out for those on two wheels pre-supposes that it is actually within their conscious gift to be 'better' at seeing bikes. The failure to see a bike acctually occurs at the deep sub-conscious level due to the limitations of human perception and visual processing. It's a bit like asking someone to be more aware of their spleen and although they might be more aware of it they will still be unable to do anything about how it functions.

For those of you that are interested in the problem there is an excellent paper which explains what's actually happening.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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