New MTA Bus Campaign Lacks a Clear Message

[[image:slam_mini.jpg::inline:1]]You may have seen it – the new “slam•i•pho•bi•a PSA campaign donning the backs of big, bright, orange Metro buses cruising L.A. City streets.

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Published June 4, 2007 by C.I.C.L.E.

[[image:slam_inside.jpg::inline:1]]You may have seen it – the new “slam•i•pho•bi•a PSA campaign donning the backs of big, bright, orange Metro buses cruising L.A. City streets.

Many L.A. bicyclists have expressed concern about the message that this PSA is sending to the public. Some have commented upon the tone of the PSA — which has been classified as “catchy” or “cutesy”, possibly reducing the impact of the message. While this may be somewhat problematic, we feel that the campaign, although cutesy, still could have been effective if the message was clear and truly informative.

CICLE does appreciate the effort that has been made by MTA, and by those individual bicyclists that came together to make this ad campaign happen. We understand that the PSA creators had good intentions, but we feel that there are some definite shortcomings when it comes to this particular ad, which happens to be the first in a series of similar PSAs.

Our main beefs:

1) The term slamiphobia. A phobia is defined as a persistent, irrational fear of something. Considering that “getting doored” is a fairly common cause for a collision, it’s hardly an irrational fear for a bicyclist to have, making this ad somewhat condescending to bicyclists.

2) Since getting doored is such a common collision for a bicyclist, how does a bicyclist or motorist learn to avoid this situation? This PSA does nothing specific to educate the uninformed bicyclist and /or motorist. What does practicing "good cycology" mean? An uninformed motorist and/or bicyclist may not know just what that entails. And is it the cyclist, the motorist, or both who should be practicing “good cycology”?

3) The big fat tire tracks behind the head. Getting your head run over when riding your bicycle in the door zone is a definite possibility in the event of a collision, but we feel that the fear message is perhaps a bit too strong, especially when the PSA offers no clear instructions with regards to avoiding this type of collision.

While this PSA is far from perfect, it is still nice to see some energy being thrown in the direction of bicyclists.

In the future, what we would really like to see is an open meeting or some other opportunity for advocates, such as ourselves, to be able to supply some input before these things hit the street, making a successful campaign much more likely.