Can we change the MUSE campus announcements to give a more positive message about cycling? They seem to give a permanent impression that cycling is a highly dangerous activity. Instead of Cyclists: Sort your lights out, which sounds pretty agressive in tone (those damn cyclists!), could we have "How to keep cycling in the dark evenings"?
Alternatively, perhaps we should put warnings up for other modes of transport eg "Pedestrians: wear warm coats".
Well, as the person who put those notices up I hear what you're saying, but the sole purpose of those notices is to keep cyclists safe and on the road. Sadly, there is a blip in the number of accidents involving slippage on the tram tracks when new students, who are unfamiliar with cycling in the vicinity of tram tracks, take to the roads in Sheffield and there is another blip when the clocks go back - I've been caught out myself leaving home in daylight and then finding that I am insufficiently lit up in the evening.If these notices prevent one person from spending a night in the Northern and General I think it's worth doing. I could have put a notice up that said "cycling is fluffy and nice' but that wouldn't really be an announcement would it? You will also note that I haven't mentioned the h-word or reflective jackets as there is no legal requirement on cyclists to wear these. I'm happy of course to put positive messages up in the same space as things arise, such as Dr Bike. The messages have an expiry date on them so will disappear after a while.
I think the tone of the message is correct especially when you combine the dark evenings with other weather conditions such as fog or the rain from last night. Anything that makes you more visible on the roads can hardly be a bad thing. On a personal note, I have spent the odd night or two in the Northern General (I am a tiny bit accident prone) and I would not something I would wish to repeat.
It's the NGH staff waking you up once an hour and asking you if you know where you are that I find particularly tedious. One smart-alec comes in and says "do you know where you are?" I say "yes I'm in the Northern & General" "Ah" he says "but which ward are you in?" "I don't know" I say, "you didn't tell me!" Also, the amount they charge you to make phone calls and watch TV is outrageous!
As Simion says the NG is to be avoided at all cost because:
a) the cost for phone, tv and internet package are criminal!!- not just for those in the hospital but even friends and family ringing a patient get charged?
and b) the morphine always wears off when there are no staff to be found.
I'm not really asking for cycling to be seen as fluffy and nice.
(1) From my reading of the cycle advocacy blogs (you'll know more about this than me Simon), there's an argument that what really makes cycling safe is having more people cycling. If you put up scary messages about this weird group called "cyclists" (whoever they are) who seem to court death, you'll get less bikes on the road, which makes it less safe for those us who are cycling. I agree that we need messages about cycle safety, but if these are framed in terms of a positive mesage, for example "How to keep cycling even when it's dark", then it doubles up by helping build numbers of cyclists and helping those who are cycling.
(2) I also think cyclists do get ridiculously over-targetted for safety messages. My tongue-in-cheek comment about "Pedestrians: Wear Warm Coats" is meant to highlight the idea that if you had similar messages for other modes of transport, pointing out the obvious just looks daft.
(3) Another idea - we target safety messages at those who actually have the potential to cause real damage to other users -- those of us who drive our cars! How about "Driving in the dark: keep an eye out for bikes".
For a good article about the creation of a 'culture of fear' about cycling, see http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/09/fear-of-cycling-01-essay-in-five-parts.html, on the wonderful Copenhagenize blog.
Sending a message to the guy who pulled out on me yesterday wouldn't work as he was evidently visually impared!
At the cyclesheffield meeting on monday we had: One member who had come off on the tram tracks at Manor Top - this is a very experienced cyclist who has performed this maneouvre many times before. One member who had a head-on collision with a taxi that was on the wrong side of the road & "SMIDSY" - despite this particular cyclist having about 8 million giga-watts of front lightage (slight exaggeration) Speaks for itself really...
I hope the cyclist is OK, but it won't have been a "SMIDSY", because taxi drivers don't have the word "sorry" in their vocabulary.
I hope the cyclist is OK too. I'm not denying that accidents happen to people on bikes, and that we need information about to deal with the risks.
But if you accept the argument more people cycling makes us safer, and that one of the barriers to increasing cycling is a perception that it's dangerous, then we need to communicate information about the risks in a way which doesn't put people off.......otherwise our warnings have the peverse effect of making it more dangerous for those of us who are cycling!!
The University puts out a lot of positive messages about cycling - have a look at http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/staff/news/2010/pedal-power-drives-recycling-message-home.html http://www.shef.ac.uk/cycleforum/ http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/environment/transport Also Joy is doing a women cyclists website which is looking good. That's not to say we couldn't improve though, and we are always looking for new ideas and assistance in getting the sustainable transport message across.
I would suggest the level and tone of the announcements are fine. We do lots of things to promote the positive nature of cycling, such as cost, health, environment, and time saving and support through things like 1-2-1's and dr bike that we readily advertise through emails, online and news articles. There are some dangers that are particular to Sheffield, and which people may not be used to, in particular the tram tracks. It would be irresponsible to promote all the positives without highlighting the hazards, and I do have requests from people who have suffered serious injuries on the tram tracks that we do more to warn people, particularly those new to Sheffield. It's not saying cycling is dangerous, it's warning about a section of tram track that you should take extra care on and offers an alternative route. There are similar warning for pedestrians, 'look out for trams' signs at crossings for example, it's not saying walking is dangerous, but walking into a tram would undoubtedly be bad for your health.
I don't think we are creating a culture of fear at the University, there are certainly plenty of bikes about and we are trying to get more.
Comparisons with Denmark are tricky. I went benchamrking there a few years ago. The approach to intergrating transport puts most places to shame and we should learn from them, but then they've been at it a long time. When we have that level of infrastructure we won't need to put out any warnings!
I think we should talk about the dangers of cycling as well. My point is that there are ways of helping people deal with the risks of cycling without making cycling seem like a minority sport for those with a death wish. There are lots of positive messages about cycling at the University -- let's do the same on Campus Announcements, which is after all a much viewed site which lots of our colleagues will see.
Darren, your point about the difference in infrastructure between Denmark and here is of course true. Fortunately I wasn't trying to make a comparison, just pointing out that there's a good article on there about the language that is used to present cycling. Although I do like Copenhagen's idea of putting adverts in the street to thank people for using their bike! Now that is positive.