A Troubling Florida Bike/Ped Safety Campaign

I read about the following ad campaign on friend Alan Snel’s blog:

The Florida Department of Transportation and the University of Florida picked a Tampa firm called Dunn&Co to create a bike and pedestrian safety ad campaign. Dunn&Co called it, “You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time.”

While there may be some truth to that statement, I feel this is NOT the way to capture hearts and minds. The focus certainly doesn’t address motorist behavior — it suggests that the onus is on us, the bike riders and pedestrians, to watch our behavior. Besides, as most of us know, bicycles are considered vehicles under most state and municipal laws, so the statement doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Nor do I care for the ad agency president’s (Troy Dunn) response when Alan “called him to the carpet” on the campaign:

“[Mr. Dunn] said there is no way to change aggressive, dangerous or reckless motorist behavior.”

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Dunn isn’t a cyclist or pedestrian on our deadly streets. His comment is misguided, at best.

Florida folks, what do YOU think? Does this campaign sound like something you’re comfortable supporting through your tax dollars? I know it doesn’t for me, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

And, if you object to the campaign and want to contact the agency behind it, simply send a note to the following email address and let your voice be heard: Troy Dunn You may also consider contacting the Florida Department of Transportation, too.


  1. Bike Soup USA

    Boooooooo….hisssssssss….booooooo. T.O.T.A.L.L.Y. unlike.

  2. harry krishna

    so the ad agency is saying education won’t help? there are numerous examples to the contrary.

  3. Tony Bullard

    Why would you ever hire an ad agency who’s President believe’s there is no way to influence people’s actions? Isn’t that kind of his job?

  4. Ghost Rider


    ha ha…that’s a very good point!

  5. Matt Lindsay

    @Tony – I think it is clear that this ad agency wants to influence cyclist behavior – influence them to not ride their bikes on the roads. It’s despicable, and public transportation dollars should not be allowed to support such a message.

  6. Michael

    I know my tax dollars are about as far away from Florida as they can get, but wow, I wonder how much time and effort that ad agency dedicated to developing this campaign. Two, three minutes tops. And I am sure they billed the Florida DOT accordingly. Pitiful.

  7. tricker

    I was in Southwest Florida last month and couldn’t help but notice that all across the region they have installed bike lanes that go down the center of 55mph merge zones with no physical or space buffer separating bikes & cars. Bike lanes are always a great idea but, like this ad campaign, the implementation is flawed!

  8. Iron_Man

    Cars are big and can kill people if they get struck by one. In other breaking news the sun rose in the Eastern sky this morning. Honestly, if a person is too pig ignorant to know that cars can kill you and you should learn about and engage in safe practices when cycling or walking around autos there simply isn’t anything that could or should be done to change that. This is simply more government waste of taxpayer money.

  9. Ghost Rider

    Iron_Man — you’re an ad professional, right? I agree wholeheartedly that it’s a waste of taxpayer money…but if the ad was better, I wouldn’t object to that. What do you think about the absolute “weakness” of the campaign?

    Granted, I haven’t seen the rest of the ad work they’ve done on the campaign, but if this is how it kicks off, it’s sure to stink.

  10. Jaime Roberto

    I’ll put up a half-hearted, devil’s advocate defense of the campaign. According to police stats in my town most accidents involving a car and a bike are the cyclist’s fault: riding the wrong way down the street, running stop signs, riding on sidewalks, etc. The cyclists who do these things need to realize that they will lose a battle with a car, and I don’t think it’s wrong to remind them. But yeah, if they are going to spend money on something like this, it probably would be good to have a share the road campaign aimed at drivers as well.

  11. dwainedibbly

    Just one more confirmation that Mrs Dibbly & I did the right thing last summer by moving from Florida to Portland. It’s a messed up place (and we left probably the most bike friendly city in the state).

    Jaime: those stats are bogus because often the cyclist is too dazed to give a clear statement (assuming that the cyclist is even conscious, or breathing). The motorist’s side always gets heard.

  12. Ghost Rider

    I can’t speak for the rest of the state (and this is a statewide campaign, far as I can tell), but around here it’s equal parts cyclists doing the RIGHT things and bike riders doing the things you mentioned — both dying in equal proportions. And dying at the rate of one or two a week (I exaggerate, but just a little).

    ANY safety campaign to keep bike/peds safer MUST include items directed at motorists too. Since they’re the ones operating the more dangerous vehicle, they have to be reminded along with the rest of us to watch the f$%k out!!!

  13. Ghost Rider

    @dwaine — Gainesville?

    I’m actually sort of happy to be leaving this state, what with the new Governor, the rash of bike deaths and everything else sending our fair peninsula down the drain.

  14. Rider

    We don’t know the details of this campaign, so our sense of it could be way off base. Maybe it is targeted at the salmoning, wrong-way riders?

    But, in general, an public-awareness campaign that reinforces the idea that cyclists need to pay attention to save their lives is both obvious and unneeded.

    We have a great problem in this state — driver behavior is a far distance from what is required by law (no signals, running stop signs, flying through red lights, speeding through neighborhoods and city streets, etc.).

    Driver behavior creates unsafe conditions — for other drivers, for pedestrians and for cyclists.

    That’s the problem that must be addressed. We need a campaign that does just that.

  15. Mir.I.Am

    dude. Not from Florida, but if I were Don Draper I would slap Tom Dunn in the face! It should be something like “the 50/50 campaign” – like an orange creamsicle, responsibility for safety is 50% on the motorists and 50% on the pedestrians. Like a safety orange creamsicle!

  16. Raiyn

    Great, yet another reason this state is going down the crapper. No train, this crap-tastic ad campaign, Lex Luthor/ Skeletor in the Governor’s mansion, The Taj Mahal… nauseam.

  17. dwainedibbly

    Ghost Rider: yes. Nobody who considers himself a cyclist should ever visit Portland. It’s either too depressing once you return home, or you’ll be guilted into becoming an advocate, possibly with little success.

    Even in Gainesville there is a battle going on over a project to re-do the NW 16th/NW 23rd corridor. The residents of the area are fighting against infrastructure improvements. Or so my buddies there are telling me.

  18. Iron_Man

    @Ghost, It’s clearly a weak ad and I’m not at all sure what FDOT is trying to accomplish unless it’s desirous of getting cyclists off the roads. Yet they are supposed to adhere to and respect the law of Florida which allows cycling. So I’m at a loss. Not surprisingly the same sentiments are to be found in my Missouri DOT.
    Advertising that is the most convincing and effective is advertising that informs, enlightens and inspires. Shock ads have very poor histories of efficacy and ads that attempt to nanny you into protecting yourself are easily laughed off (remember “This is your brain on drugs?”). Instead of helping cyclists to find the resources in the state that will teach them how to ride in traffic properly, FDOT simply chose to remind us all of what is so blatantly obvious to anyone with a functioning brain. Without proper information about cycling safety (which I think FDOT is duty bound to provide when bringing this topic up) the viewer is left with the impression that the streets are dangerous and he just shouldn’t think about riding his bike on them.

  19. Steve A

    So big stuff can hurt you. I can see THAT campaign “Prius vs 18 Wheeler – You lose every time.” When queried by furious hybrid owners, the campaign manager replied “there is no way to change reckless or dangerous trucker behavior.”

    I think the ad manager would be quickly out of a job and laws would be under consideration to reel in the reckless truckers.

    Lesson? It pays to be a major political force rather than a fringe minority.

  20. clever-title

    Up next: “Women vs. Rapists – you lose every time”

  21. Larry

    As a full-time bike commuter in St Petersburg, FL i see more disturbing behavior from drivers than one could imagine. About a week ago I had to force crash to avoid getting hit by a driver who had a cup of coffee in one hand and was texting with the other (while trying to turn right with their knee i guess). There are times when bikes are at fault, i stop at all signs, lights, etc. but until the police start ticketing and arresting drivers for violating laws such as running red lights, going through “no right on red” signs, and speeding then no one will pay attention. Our society rewards people for being so connected to work / home that no one seems to pay attention to driving anymore. The campaign is ignorant, but it is pretty much the attitude in Florida – tell everyone to get out of my way. I have an idea for an ad campaign that says Car vs Semi Truck: You lose every time.

  22. Dacius

    I live in Jacksonville and the biking community is so small, that I fail to see the effectiveness o any marketing towards cyclist. In marketing, you drive impact by saturation of campaign. Which would be more effective FDOT? A campaign driven towards curbing reckless behavior of a small percentage of a small group of people; the bad cyclist OR a campaign focused on making drivers who text, drivers who think bikes deserve to be ridden in the dirt only, and drivers who are too busy applying their makeup. Which would be more effective?

    Here is an idea…skip the campaign all together and get a bike lane system that ACTUALLY works for each major city.

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