ASA withdraws ruling on government cycling advert

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THE Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has withdrawn its ruling banning a Scottish Government road safety ad which showed a cyclist riding without a helmet and “too far” from the kerb.

The authority admitted to a “potential flaw” in its ruling, a day after it announced that the TV ad was “socially irresponsible” and that the Scottish Government-funded advertiser must show cyclists wearing helmets in future.

The advert's ban has been withdrawn, but not lifted. Screengrab: Nice Way Code/YouTube

The advert's ban has been withdrawn, but not lifted. Screengrab: Nice Way Code/YouTube

Helmets are not compulsory, and Scottish ministers said cyclists should be free to choose.

Cycling Scotland also challenged the ruling that the cyclist was shown riding too far from the kerb.

In a statement, the authority said: “The ASA has withdrawn its formal ruling against a Cycling Scotland ad pending the outcome of an independent review.

“That followed a request from Cycling Scotland, in which it argued that the ASA’s criticism of the positioning of the cyclist was incorrect.

“The decision to withdraw was made by the ASA chief executive in light of a potential flaw in our ruling.”

The ASA described its move as “not common” but said the ad remained banned pending its review. The ad was originally broadcast over two weeks last August.

Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, said: “Following our request to the ASA to suspend the publication of its adjudication against our TV advert, I am pleased it has chosen to withdraw its formal ruling, pending the outcome of an independent review.

“It is important to highlight the key message of the advert, which reinforces the need for drivers to give those travelling by bike the correct amount of road space when overtaking.

“The advert was produced in close consultation with an experienced cycle training instructor. The road positioning of the woman travelling by bike in the closing scene of the advert is in keeping with the national standard for cycle training which is referenced in the Highway Code.

“The driver of the car in the advert also follows the Highway Code, which states that vulnerable road users, such as those on a bicycle, should be given at least as much space as you would give a car when overtaking.

“There is a broad spectrum of research and opinion across the road safety and health communities when it comes to issues relating to helmet use, and the ad reflected this diversity by showing cyclists both with and without helmets.”