Australian Motor Accident Commission Says Cyclists Are “Screwed”

My labmate Richard (author of the phenomenal Cyclo-Révolution blog on active transportation) sent me an extremely interesting public service announcement yesterday which was produced by the Motor Accident Commission (MAC) of South Australia.

According to the MAC website (emphasis mine):

The Motor Accident Commission (MAC) is South Australia’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer and provides $400 million each year in compensation to road crash victims.

MAC also manages the State Government’s road safety communications program and provides sponsorship funding for projects that aim to reduce the number and impact of road injuries and deaths.


To provide a viable system of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) injury insurance for South Australians and contribute to road trauma reduction.

As part of their strategy to reduce road injuries and deaths, the MAC has created a series of public service announcements and accompanying online campaign titled “Lose Your Licence and You’re Screwed”.  The overwhelming theme of the campaign is that life sucks without a licence.

Why does life suck without a licence?  First off, you may have to *gasp* ride a bike (!?!). If you can stomach seeing a man on a bicycle, watch the below video to see just how bad life can be…

Could life get any worse than being a cyclist?  Unfortunately, it could.

The MAC’s handy “You know you’re screwed when” page points out that you’re also “screwed” if you:

a) walk places (because drive-through windows won’t serve you, and because you”ll have to buy walking shoes)

b) rollerblade (in addition to cyclists, attractive people also hate rollerbladers)

c) take the bus (they’re filled with creepy people)

For good measure, they also point out two more times why it sucks to be a cyclist –  you may get stuck in an electrical storm, and because if you do manage to somehow find a date, they’ll still hate your helmet hair.

Now of course we can all see what they were trying to do – a cheeky campaign to get young people to drive more safely (another MAC campaign is titled “Don’t drive like a cock”). But the idea that we can make driving safer by denigrating all other forms of transportation is ridiculous to say the least.

One of the best (and possibly the best) way to reduce motor vehicle fatalities is to get people to use active transportation (walking, cycling, transit, etc) rather than driving.  Less cars means less accidents for other drivers, as well as pedestrians.  As I’ve written before, if young drivers were to give up their cars in favour of cycling, it would almost certainly save lives.

And it’s not that difficult to create engaging ads that promote safe driving without denigrating healthier forms of transportation – the MAC itself has produced other hilarious ads (here and here) that get the message across very effectively.

So kudos to Australia’s MAC, for trying to convince people to avoid the very behaviours that are most likely to achieve their goal of reducing road injuries and deaths.  Well played.


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8 Responses to Australian Motor Accident Commission Says Cyclists Are “Screwed”

  1. WendyRG says:

    Interesting topic.

    I hope you don’t mind if I go on tangential rant: the danger that cyclists pose to pedestrians.

    Here in Toronto, it’s becoming just as dangerous to be a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk, minding your own business, as it is to be a cyclist sharing the road with cars. Recently, an elderly pedestrian was killed by a cyclist.

    Though most people don’t see me as being handicapped, I do have slight balance problems due to arthritis and degenerative disc problems. Sometimes, I don’t walk in a precisely straight line. As any pedestrian, I may from time to time cross the sidewalk diagonally, to mail a letter or to look in a store window. If someone is coming up fast on a bicycle behind me, I don’t have a flasher to indicate that I’m changing lanes, so to speak. These cyclists are a huge danger to pedestrians.

    I suppose the solution is bike lanes, but try telling that to Mayor Ford here in Toronto!

    • Atif says:

      I like the system of separate bike lanes myself – although I bike on the street now, I’m always slightly terrified of cars. Megan Carter has an excellent discussion of her experiences here: if you’re interested. Bikers shouldn’t be on the sidewalk, plain and simple.

      I know they are introducing this in Ottawa and NYC, but it’s been met with a lot of resistance.

      • Travis says:

        Agreed – cycling on the sidewalk is a horrible idea for adults (I’m less concerned about kids <12 on residential streets). Walking in bike lanes is also a horrible idea, which I've seen more than once on the new segregated bike lane here in downtown Ottawa.

    • Joe D says:

      One of the cleverest tricks of the motoring lobby has been to convince pedestrians and bicycle users that they are each other’s enemies. Cycling on sidewalks isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of the problem. In place of city streets we have built massive roads designed solely for high volume high speed motor movements, the sort of environment that drives pedestrians and cyclists away in a positive feedback loop increased car use and decreased physical activity, and pushes any who remain to the sides on inadequate infrastructure where there is bound to be conflict. But it’s an environment that has become so familiar to everybody that they fail to recognise the true problem and the true enemy…

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  3. Simba says:

    Really? You’re screwed if you choose shoes for comfort rather than design?

    How about choosing shoes which won’t give you bunions or dislocated toes? Does that make you a loser too?

  4. Richard Larouche says:

    Hey Travis,

    I just had a deja vu… sounds like GM is copying the MAC advert :

    Hopefully, the Giant bike compagny as turned it into a parody, and the letter to the editor that I submitted with Rebecca has been accepted by Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health :)