Think Horse Advert overcomes hurdles

Cycling Scotland Horse Advert

Back in January an advert was launched by Cycling Scotland asking motorists to give cyclists more room. The slightly surreal advert shows cyclists as horses and tells motorists to treat cyclists as horses. It then explains that it doesn’t mean feed them hay or make them jump fences like in the horse of the year show.

What it did mean though was to give cyclists the room you would give a horse when passing them.

Did it work? We don’t know yet as it was pulled from television following just five complaints to Advertising Standards Authority (A.S.A).  The complaints focused on the fact that one of the cyclists in the clip not wearing a helmet, and she was apparently cycling too far out from the gutter.

Cycling Scotland defended the video by stating that according to its ‘Helmet Policy’ helmets can lead to undesired outcomes including “influencing a driver’s behaviour to be less careful when interacting on the road” and “restricting the take up of cycling.”  

I have few points for the five complainants that are my views (but hopefully they reflect the views of most cyclists out there)

1. Helmets are not compulsory and there is lots of conflicting research as to whether they are effective or not… So the best advice I can give regarding helmets is wear one/don’t wear one, its your choice…. I wear one,  but I’m not your dad, so I’m not going to make you wear one, unless my 7 year old is reading this in which case I am actually your dad so wear your helmet.

2. Riding out from the gutter is called riding ‘Primary’ and is a perfectly acceptable position, it keeps the tyres away from all the smashed glass and debris in the gutter and puts cyclists in the correct place when approaching junctions… At rush hour in most cities a cyclist can easily keep up with the flow of traffic so why should we ride in the gutter?


According to the complaints sent to the A.S.A the cyclists in the video are naughty because they ride in the wrong place and don’t wear helmets, two things that are not actually illegal… whereas a number of motorists (not all just a small minority) still don’t wear seat-belts and use a handheld phone, both of which ARE illegal and that’s before I get on to the subject of speeding and drink driving.

I didn’t mean to turn this into anti car rant but a useful campaign was derailed due to just a handful of complaints,  talk about democracy (please do, because too few are!).

Anyway good news; the ad-ban has been lifted and the advert is due to be shown again, so hopefully motorists will this time understand the message and do what it says, rather than over analyse it and run and tell teacher….

Ian Aitken of Cycling Scotland said after the ban was overturned, “We are pleased that the final adjudication has confirmed that the advert gives the correct guidance to people driving and cycling.”

At the moment the campaign is for Scotland only, but if it works a similar advert might get launched for the rest of the U.K and hopefully it may cut down on the senseless deaths of cyclists everywhere.


Photo credit: Clay Junell