A council has been accused of victim blaming after officers released a safety poster relating to cyclists wearing headphones.

The Brighton and Hove City Council poster is one a series of road safety notices that have been put up in the east of the city.

The poster aims to highlight the dangers of wearing headphones while cycling.

It features an image of man riding with headphones in his ears with the message “Headphones can prevent you from hearing traffic. Share the road, share the responsibility.”

However, some cyclists have taken offence at the poster campaign and have accused the local authority of victim blaming.

Yesterday, a mock up of the poster with an alternative message was circulated on Twitter.

It features the same image with the message “There’s no evidence wearing headphones is hazardous but we’re blaming cyclists anyway. Share the roads, take all the blame”

Mark Strong, a city cyclist and transport consultant with the Transport Initiatives, said he was unsure who was behind the mock poster.

He added: “There is a huge imbalance in the level of responsibility which is not shown in the original poster.

“It looks great but whether it would make any difference to the actual numbers of people getting hurt is debatable.

“All accidents have more than one cause and a poster essentially saying ‘don’t be stupid’ won’t get very far.

“There needs to be forgiveness in the road environment. The system should be able to cope with that and should not be so on the edge that any mistake can lead to an accident.”

There is no law against cyclists wearing headphones but many believe there should be.

London Mayor Boris Johnson and Britain’s first Tour De France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, have both spoken in favour of a change in the law.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said the campaign had been welcomed by the families of those involved in accidents.

She said: “The council’s road safety awareness campaign is aimed at motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, with six different posters carrying messages about the dangers of distraction from headphones, mobile phones and other devices.

“The campaign was launched following road traffic collision statistics for Brighton and Hove over the last three years which show that failing to look properly is by far the biggest contributory factor.

“As a new administration, we are committed to improving road safety in the city for all road users and will be looking at new and innovative ways to refresh our road safety campaigns and messages.”


According to the National Cycling Charity:

  • 44 % of people aged five and over own or have access to a bicycle.
  • 8% of the population aged five and over cycle three or more times a week.
  • 21 to 29 year-olds tend to make 22 cycle trips per year, which is more than any other age group.
  • 15% of full driving licence holders cycle more than twice a month and 18% cycle once a year to twice a month.
  • Around 80% of cyclists hold a driving licence.