Dangerizing Bicycling for Bike Month. Nice.

Photo courtesy of BikeJax

Have you seen this one? I saw it for the first time as we were headed through Debary on our Brevet last week. We were riding on Enterprise Rd., crossing I-4. Not exactly an image one wants in one’s face 30 miles into a 140-mile ride. I lamented not having my camera as this seemed a good topic for a post.

Well, that same weekend, BikeJax was headed to Orlando in a car and had the same reaction upon seeing it. And BikeJax had a camera!

These billboards, showing a bike that looks like it was run over by a car, are literally lining the I-4 corridor. IMO, they are sending an unsubtle, counter-productive message just as Florida is celebrating its first annual Bike Month in March. As many cities are supporting a line-up of great cycling activities to get more people engaged and active on their bicycles, positive messages would sure be helpful.

Many American’s don’t ride because they believe cycling is dangerous. Worse. It was found in an FDOT survey of motorists, that a significant percentage devalue and harass cyclists because they believe what we are doing is dangerous (therefor stupid).

If you’d like to tell Florida Hospital THEY’RE NOT HELPING, you can do that here.

14 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    This is the text I sent using the contact link provided by Keri:

    As a transportational cyclist, it has come to my attention that your billboards promoting your emergency room service level are perpetuating an inaccurate representation of bicycling.

    Your advertising agency should not have taken this direction, nor should the appropriate department within your organization approved such copy.

    It’s not amusing, and certainly unwarranted. Might I suggest a photo of a crash involving an automobile?

    On a related note, but only slightly, Volusia County buses (daytona area, anyway) have the three-foot sign on the back. Someone in the art department needs some clarification, I think. The one I saw shows a motor vehicle on the right side of the bus, with bicycle passing it and the three-foot-arrow between them.

    It certainly appears to me that a bicyclist must pass an automobile with three feet of clearance. The only place I can see that image working would be in the UK and other countries where driving is done on the opposite side.

    Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Too bad this one is thoughtless!

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    … The one I saw shows a motor vehicle on the right side of the bus, with bicycle passing it and the three-foot-arrow between them.

    Sounds like the art used on the Jacksonville buses.

    The art used on the Orlando buses is FREE to any organization that wants to use it:

    This artwork was donated to FBA and is available for use in other communities. The only condition for use is that the integrity of the visual image be strictly maintained. You can obtain files by contacting the artist.

    That would be me.

    I’ve given files to several other organizations in Florida and one in Maryland.

  3. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Here’s injury data from the Fla. Dept. of Health. Hospitalizations for the entire state for 2007.

    Falls 53,179
    Motor Vehicle 16,563
    Poisoning 6,508
    Unspecified 3,916
    Struck By, Against 2,341
    Other Spec & Classifiable 2,059
    Pedalcyclist 1,744
    MV Traffic – Pedestrian 1,650

    The hospital image could very well be just one out of a broader campaign.
    “Falls” is a pretty broad category; ladders, bath-tubs, etc.
    Motor vehicle crash imagery would probably distract from the message; people might see it as an ad for attorneys or insurance or other interests.
    Poisoning is rather icky for a campaign (unless that’s the specific focus).
    So the next highest cause with decent graphic options is bicycling.

    Also, twice as many cycling hospitalizations involve no motor vehicle as those that do.

    Unfortunate timing, but I wouldn’t give them a hard time about it.

  4. Keri
    Keri says:


    read the post on BikeJax:

    This might not be so bad if Florida Hospital had instead of placing 20 some billboards with only the bicycle graphic. But also used other sport related images.

  5. mikedfunk
    mikedfunk says:

    I sent them this email:

    I’ve seen Florida Hospital’s ad recently for a quick emergency room visit: http://is.gd/mxDH This ad is very frustrating as it stereotypes cycling as dangerous. As a daily bike commuter for the past year, this stereotype carries over to driver attitude toward bike commuters: they think we are being reckless and stupid by cycling and therefore deserve their unfettered wrath.

    Sure there are cyclists in Central Florida that get injured, but not nearly as many as car crashes, not by a long shot. Why not do something with a car crash instead? In fact statistically there are less cycling deaths than there are pedestrian deaths. Bike commuting is generally quite safe.

    This ad seems to be displayed only along the interstate, where bicycles are not allowed. The ad is not productive to anyone that would be likely to be in a bike crash since it is shown only to car commuters. Cycling is a simple solution to a complex problem: it lowers congestion, lowers dependence on oil: a non-renewable and polluting resource, and has great health benefits. It should be encouraged, not discouraged. Please consider replacing this ad with something more relevant and less offensive.

  6. AndrewP
    AndrewP says:

    I’m going to have to side with Mighk on this — while unfortunate in timing, there is no bad intent.

    To me, it looks like a dented rim on a mountain bike. I immeadiately thought of an off-road taco’d rim from a hole or a jump where someone may have taken a spill. Not a collision with an auto.

    Maybe a 2 out of 10 on my bike-offensive meter …..

  7. Herman
    Herman says:

    While I think the hospital bears some responsibility for approving this design, the real villain is the advertising agency who created it.

    Any idea who that might be?

    It is to them that all disapproving commentary should be directed …or at least copied. They needed an “O” and unfortunately chose a bicycle wheel.

  8. Julius
    Julius says:

    You guys should really be worried about the bad photoshop done to that bike. The tire is still inflated! And the spokes are straight!

    Herman’s point was the exact thing I thought. Reading everyone elses comments seem a little sensational.

    Your hearts are in the right place, I just think your efforts could be more effectively directed. It appears that you’re just giving them free press.

  9. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Yeah, that would’ve been my next comment; bad artwork. Totally unrealistic wheel damage.
    Reminds me of all the flopped photos I’ve seen over the years; they end up with bikes with left-side drive-trains.

  10. Keri
    Keri says:

    If this was one in a series of billboards with a sports theme (as BikeJax mentioned) it would be less annoying. I didn’t like the image to begin with, but the repetitive “message” of that same sign every few miles is what gets under my skin.

    Yeah, I noticed the bad Photoshop job, too. The unrealistic art does mitigate the effect a little… it’s less horrific-looking than a bike that really has been hit.

  11. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    The public perception is that bicycles are very dangerous.

    While arguing against a mandatory helmet law with a local Safe-Kids official, I pointed out the dramatic reduction in cycling New South Wales Australia saw after passing such a law, and that there was good data suggesting strongly that was where the serious injury reductions came from (because cyclist head injuries and wrist injuries went down the same amount).

    The Safe-Kids official responded, “We think a reduction in cycling is good, because bikes are unsafe and cause injuries.”

    I suggest the hospital MARKETING department (not the ad agency… they’re just whores) needs to hear from local cyclists. Unless you think reinforcing this incorrect stereotype is no big deal.

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