UK cyclists object to STAY BACK command on lorries and buses

 Cyclists in London and across the country are angry about the stickers appearing on buses, vans and taxis across London. The stickers order cyclists to 'Stay Back' which implies that drivers do not have a duty of care to use their mirrors before turning across a cyclist's path.

In some situations 'Stay Back' is an appropriate warning, where poorly designed HGVs are turning left,  but most often it contradicts cyclists' choices for a safe route through traffic.

It is particularly inappropriate on service buses, vans and taxis. The drivers of those vehicles all have adequate vision of the road around them and should have no difficulty being careful around cyclists and pedestrians.

London Cycling Campaign with CTC - The National Cycling Charity, Road Danger Reduction Forum, RoadPeace and TABS - the Association of Bikeability Schemes have sent a joint letter to Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London.

The Letter states:

(1) The 'cyclists stay back' wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users. It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.

(2) It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.

(3) Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles' blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.

(4) Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics. A suitable graphic is attached as Left-Turning-HGV.jpg. Possible wording is on the attached CyclistsBeware.jpg.

The letter goes on to ask Transport fo London to take the stickers off London buses and to tell freight operators to remove them from all but high-cab HGVs. TfL should tell van and taxi operators that it does not approve of these stickers being used on small vehicles.

Charlie Lloyd, LCC's road danger reduction campaigner said "many people have contacted us to say these stickers are offensive and misleading.

"Even on large HGVs the 'Stay Back' message is inappropriate. We want lorries to have a warning sign appropriate to the danger which occurs when a large vehicle turns left or right.

"Drivers of vehicles with inadequate visibility need reminding of the risks from turning without care. Cyclists need reminding of the specific risks caused when large lorries turn sharply across the road."

The campaigners have asked Transport for London to change the wording on the stickers for large lorries. They should not imply that cyclists do not have the right to overtake other vehicles.

Overtaking on the left side is perfectly lawful where traffic is slow moving or stopped. If there is no chance for that traffic to turn left then it can be the safer option. Most cycle lanes are on the left side of the road, the Highway Code warns drivers not turn left across the path of cyclists on the left side.



These are the type of sticker we would like to see. The message is clear the danger is when large lorries are turning left. The wording on the left was agreed with LCC in 2006, the image on the right won a national design competition for an easily understood image.

Some of the stickers currently in use are even worse:

 This notice gives the false impression that cycling or passing on the left side of the road is illegal which is untrue. A driver seeing this sign many times a day will be tempted to think any cyclist on the left is a law breaker. The driver may not take as much care as he/she should.

Such a sign could lead to drivers blaming cyclists in the case of a collision even though there is a clear duty of care for motor vehicles to look out and not turn across the path of cyclists at junctions.

Cyclists fight back

Graphic designer Riccardo Pelc has produced an alternate sticker for cyclists to wear on their backs. The image is available in A4 or A5, prices being £5 for the A5 and £8 for the A4. For information please email him at

 The message is clear.

There are other comments on this issue from the Road Danger Reduction Forum and on Road.CC .