Which ads are now banned? Your examples wanted

Unhelmeted hipsters riding all over a promenade. Tsk tsk.

Which ads are now banned? Your examples wanted

The ASA's bizarre ruling (under appeal by Cycling Scotland) that all cyclists must now be helmeted and cyclists must adopt dangerous road positioning has caused anger amongst the cycling community. If you've got examples of ads that would now be banned, please send them here.

The ASA's ruling is being appealed by Cycling Scotland. To help support that appeal, we'd like examples of advertising - print and broadcast - that show cycling as a normal activity, and which would therefore (theoretically) not be allowed.

To start you off, here is CTC's own cinema advert, 'Cycle Hero', made a few years ago to communicate the issue of climate change and suggest cycling as an alternative.

Our ad included a mixture of cyclists from a full cross-section of society, and emphasised that cycling isn't just about sport or recreation. Cyclists were featured on Bromptons and shopping bikes without helmets, as well as mountain bikes and BMX bikes with. 

They show cyclists doing incredibly risky and irresponsible things, such as filtering through traffic (!) and riding down the centre of an empty residential street in a group of 4.

Halfords advert - unhelmeted cyclists with baskets dangerously undertake responsible, helmet-wearing roadies on the Prudential RideLondon then children cause a mass pile-up. 

Chicago based Brompton retailer illustrate a man's life which demonstrates a deviant attachment to his bike, and a scandalous absence of helmets:

New Coke Zero ad: lots of disreputable fixie riders without helmets flood over a promenade. Some appear to have brakes that may contravene the regulations!!!

In Wiggle's ad, everyone's got helmets on, but a child is seen riding in the center of the road, followed by some rather famous women occupying the entire carraigeway two-abreast.

TfL's 'Catch up with the bicycle' campaign ran for several years on bus stops and outdoor advertising. 

British Retail Giant, H&M promoting irresponsible cycling with the cyclist using a hood instead of a helmet and mounting a bike without brakes, in East London.

Back in 2009 Diet Coke was at it, showing British singer Duffy cycling without helmet, down the middle of a street and on the footpath(!)

Even the Beeb would fall foul as this BBC One ident labelled “One Capes”would be flouting regulations for showing scores of cyclists sans helmets.

Holland: what a total disaster area; no helmets, cyclists everywhere. 


And here's Transport for London assuring us all you need is a Debit Card to ride a Barclay Bike, not a mention of helmet!

'Britain's favourite advert', the nostalgic Hovis ad on Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, directed by Ridley Scott, is a definite no-no. A child labourer, without helmet and with very little control, freewheels down the middle of the road. 


To add your own, submit a comment below, or let us know on Twitter. The more examples we can muster, the stronger the case will be to appeal this ruling.

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Andrew Abbess's picture

On TfL website

TfL Barclay Cycle Hire explanation advert shows cartoon characters riding bikes without helmets or hi viz


On the other side of things, I've noticed a number of car adverts that show encourage dangerous attitudes towards cyclists. I saw one in the cinema recently but cannot recall what make of car it was advertising. Here are two international examples anyway:




It should be banned to show a cyclist wearing a helmet but not done up properly. Any very limited safety benefit of a helmet is more than negated by not doing up the straps securely. An example can seen regularly in CTC's own Cycle Magazine full page advert for CTC incident line. In this CTC ad those cyclists seen riding while wearing helmets have the straps hanging loosely around their neck. This will ensure only that the helmet is, at best, thrown clear of the head in the event of an accident. At worst it will slide backwards down the back of the rider's head adding a risk if strangulation to any risk of head injury.
Kevin C

The TFL ads and other material highlight the fact that rules about cycle helmets are a political matter decided by our elected representatives. The ASA should not be pre-empting political decisions. If ASA staff want cycling without a helmet banned by law they should lobby for it like anyone else.
The ASA say their job is to ensure that ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful (can they be honest and untruthful?). Showing cycling without helmets does not obviously contravene this. I do think that ads should not encourage dangerous behaviour. But they should recognise that whether cycling without a helmet is dangerous overall is the subject of considerable controversy.

A favourite from when I was a lad "I were right about that saddle though!"


Surely the ultimate - of "should know better" - even Victoria Pendleton's at it, in the "Victoria signs for Hovis ad 2010"

What about the PG tips advert with the chimps riding bikes?

Lynx unleash the chaos advert

The latest advert from Confused.com features a number of bicycles being carried on the rear of a people carrier type vehicle. The lights are clearly obscured but there's no lighting board in contravention of RVLR.

However Brian the Robot is happy to reward this illegal behaviour by offering to reduce the driver's car insurance!