Motoring organisation left with serious egg on face
Ipsos Mori director: ‘home-cooked, half-baked poll’ too dire to laugh at
The backlash against the Institute of Advanced Motorists continued unabated over the weekend, after Steven Hope – managing director of Ipsos Mori’s Edinburgh office – blasted the feeble survey and the motivation of its publishers.
The survey received just 1600 submissions, the majority of which could have been ‘stuffed’ by a handful of users of an online cycling forum using freely available automated polling technology.
Despite sinking steadily deeper into the mire of spin and bad statistics, Simon Best, chief executive of the IAM, was still defending his charity’s handling of the scandal on Friday, responding to a letter of condemnation from the Bicycle Association of Great Britain.
“32% of drivers admit running red lights, yet only 1.9% of cyclists frequently do so”, IAM survey finds
It’s amazing that anyone could think they could learn about the attitudes or actions of cyclists from such a tiny online poll – even if 1600 individuals had responded rather than a few using an automated poll “stuffer”, over 500,000 journeys are made by bicycle every day in London alone!
The real problem is not that a charity put a silly free-for-all survey on their website – that’s hardly unusual.
No, the problem is the way the IAM chose, with some care, to spin their survey results to the national press. 1.9% of respondents frequently ran red lights, compared with 32% of motorists who’d admitted driving through them, but the IAM was pleased to announce that “more than half of cyclists jump red lights”!
Simon Best wrote:
Our survey found that 57% of cyclists admitted jumping red lights at least once. Disappointingly, what the press failed to report was the reason given by cyclists for this action – they believed it better to get ahead of other traffic for safety reasons.
Simon, that isn’t disappointing. Nobody involved with the media professionally could have had the slightest doubt about what you were doing – it was a concious and deeply disappointing decision to scrape the barrel for media attention at the expense of cyclists’ safety, which is hardly enhanced by this sort of cheap road-rage stirring.
What is interesting is that every letter and email we have received has pushed back and blamed others for this behaviour. The message, it’s not my fault, someone else makes me do it, is for me more concerning. It indicates a lack of personal ownership and that attitude will not support our goal of reducing deaths and injuries.
We’ve got a newsflash for you here, Simon. Just 30% of cyclists involved in a serious collision are found to be responsible by investigators, and almost none of them were jumping red lights when they were struck. It’s not that red light jumping is irrelevant to deaths and injuries on the roads, it’s just nearly irrelevant.
Simon, perhaps you could comment on the recent deaths on the roads around Edinburgh? They are:
- two cyclists killed in separate incidents when the drivers of a tipper and a haulage truck turned across the top of them.
- the driver of an HGV was traced and arrested following the death of a cyclist during an overtaking manoeuvre
- a cyclist was killed when a motorist failed to leave adequate passing space on a clear stretch of road
- a cyclist was killed by a drunk on the wrong side of the road
- a cyclist was killed by a driver doing 150% of the speed limit around a blind corner, all on the wrong side of the road
- a cyclist was killed when a taxi drove into the back of them in the middle of an empty bus lane.
Now Simon, which of these would still be alive if some of your spotty internet poll respondents felt differently about red lights?
Are the wheels coming off the IAM’s fledgling steps into cycling advocacy? Where is the credibility of the IAM with Britain’s cyclists now?