NYC Rolls Out First Citywide Bicycle Awareness Campaign

NEW YORK CITY IS PREPARING to roll out its first-ever citywide effort to tell people in cars to keep an eye peeled for bikes and vice versa. The campaign, called "LOOK," comes as bicycle ridership in the city is on the rise, along with accidents.

Published September 17, 2007 by Marketing Daily
by Karl Greenberg

NEW YORK CITY IS PREPARING to roll out its first-ever citywide effort to tell people in cars to keep an eye peeled for bikes and vice versa. The campaign, called "LOOK," comes as bicycle ridership in the city is on the rise, along with accidents.

The seed for the campaign was planted two years ago after cyclist Liz Byrne was killed while cycling in Brooklyn. Her sister worked at Publicis' Seattle office. She and her co-workers reached out to Transportation Alternatives, the New York City bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, offering to handle creative for the PR and ad campaign.

The effort, sponsored by the City Department of Transportation, the New York City Bicycle Coalition, and several other groups, is breaking on Tuesday.

The campaign aims to raise awareness among drivers and bike riders about the need for each to pay attention to the other. In a newsletter to members, Transportation Alternatives says the first-ever campaign "is aimed at drivers respecting cyclists' right to the road and everyone's responsibility to be aware in traffic."

While Publicis' Seattle office is doing the campaign pro bono, the City of New York put almost $1 million into the media buy, which includes English- and Spanish-language ads on bus shelters, buses, taxi tops and phone kiosks this fall.

The effort will also include a new Web site, handouts of posters, postcards, T-shirts and other giveaways at the New York City launch event Tuesday in the Union Square area.

Amy Vroom, account supervisor at Publicis, says the creative approach is unequivocal. "The creative idea behind it is that there is one real easy way to avoid a crash, and that's [by] looking out for one another," she says.

Creative centers on photographs that use white-striped bicycle lanes to suggest what happens when people don't respect rights of way.

For example, one shows a bicycle lane coursing along the street. But before reaching a truck parked illegally where the bike lane should be, the lane veers off, onto the sidewalk, and up the wall of the adjacent building, where the familiar painted-bicyclist icon is represented as a cyclist sprawling on the pavement.

Another shows a bike lane continuing its normal trajectory–except it is also painted upon the hood and roof of a car that crossing it.

"It grabs your attention but it's not gory," says Vroom, who adds that the campaign will run this fall and then again around the time of Bike Month, which is May.

Karl Greenberg can be reached at karl@mediapost.com