Car forces bike off the road in Holden ad

August 14, 2013 at 20:32 | Posted in bicycles | 6 Comments
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If you don’t ride a bike, you’ll think I have my knickers in a twist about this. If you regularly ride a bike in Australia, this will make your blood boil. It’s the latest ad from Holden for some new car of theirs  (click here to watch).


Now, there’s been some commentary about this on their YouTube channel, and here is their response:


Well I’m sorry Holden, but your comments just don’t wash. This ad clearly depicts careless and dangerous driving, even if its not immediately apparent to a casual, non-cycling viewer. Let’s take a look at it frame by frame.
At 18s, we see the driver is not paying attention to the road – he is more interested in looking at his companion than at the road ahead of him:


At 20s in, we see the cyclist from behind. The implication is that this is the drivers POV. The car must be extremely close to the back wheel of the bike to get this shot. Perhaps the driver should have been looking at the road two seconds earlier:


At 21 seconds we see the car make a significant swerve to go around the (crashed) cyclist – check how the body is rolling on the suspension. In order to require such a sharp manoeuvre, the car must have been driving directly at the cyclist in the moments prior. (Had the driver been driving safely and with care, he would have pulled out to give the cyclist room well before he got so close, and would not have needed to make such a sudden swerve.) At he is close too; we can see the car is indeed no more than 2 or 3 metres behind the cyclist:


Perhaps someone from Holden’s marketing department would like to ride a bike down the street whilst I drive my car behind then two metres off their back wheel – let me tell you, it’s pretty terrifying. It’s also illegal under Australian Road Rule 127.

The driver does not then stop to render assistance to the cyclist, or check he is OK – instead he just drives off.


Whilst most Australian drivers are thankfully much more observant and much more considerate than the driver in this ad, it is a sad fact that there is a tiny minority out there who think cyclists are ‘fair game’, and will deliberately drive at them, drive close to them and in some cases even force them off the road. These incidents are of course rare, but anyone who has cycled in Australia for any length of time will probably have experienced this type of thing at some point. For Holden to be glorifying and legitimising this kind of hoon behaviour is utterly unacceptable – and simply shrugging it off as ‘tongue in cheek’ is not good enough.

Sure, make an ad that pokes bland cars in the eye. But don’t try to claim it’s funny when someone exhibiting careless driving puts a vulnerable road user in danger.

You can make a complaint about the ad here, if you feel moved to do so.


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  1. Done. Thanks. Been scared often enough by silly drivers. Not that I’m that good a driver myself. Here’s what I wrote. I guess you don’t mind a bit of plagiarizing in this context.
    “As a cyclist, parent and medical practitioner, the portrayal of dangerous driving in an advertisement like this is very concerning. The drivers are clearly the “cool guys” and so what they do is shown as not just ok, but preferred behaviour. What they do includes driving fast in a narrow street with many pedestrians, driving close behind a cyclist who then comes off his bike (it is clear they are right behind him as they have to swerve to avoid hitting him), not stopping to see if he is ok, and evading police. In my opinion this ad goes well beyond harmless fun, particularly in a society where there are already drivers who consider cyclists fair sport.”

  2. What an appalling ad! Not being a TV watcher, I hadn’t seen this until now.

    Here is the main bit of a message I have just sent to Holden…

    I have just watched an advertisement for a Holden car which depicts a cyclist being knocked of his bike by a criminally negligent (see Australian Road Rules – Reg 127) driver. This is an appalling sight, especially in light of the number of cyclists who are killed or severely injured on our roads every year. It beggars the imagination how any sane person could think this would reflect well upon a company.
    I shall be submitting a complaint to the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau about this advertisement. I shall also be contacting every person I am able to, via social networking, word of mouth and any other method available, to encourage them to do the same. I will also be encouraging them to contact any company that chooses to advertise on television during a screening of a Holden sponsored event, and let them know that they will be boycotting their products.

    Will be interesting to see what (if any) response I get.

  3. OK, got my “complaint dismissed” letter yesterday. I guess you both got the same one. There seemed to be two other lots of comments apart from mine, so perhaps it was just the three of us (three times as many as would have complained if you didn’t have a blog).
    If you didn’t get it, and want a copy, let me know. It was rather depressing.

  4. Got the complaint letter dismissed too. No quotes from my particular complaint, as far as I can remember. Its disappointing, but I take heart that it probably cost Holden thousands of dollars in lawyers fees. Or time – they probably have lawyers on retainer so maybe its just prevented one lawyer from knocking off early. I have half a mind to make an appeal to take up even more of their time, ha! 😉

  5. Just watched the ad again in light of defence Holden put forward in the dismissal letter. A main argument seems to be that the cyclist look behind himself and got distracted by the coloring of the car. But a close viewing of the ad shows that the cyclist only turns his head slightly – he would only see the car in his peripheral vision, which i imagine would be more than enough to motivate a defensive riding manoeuvre, but hardly enough to be described as ‘loss of attention’. And if the car is going so slowly, why does the cyclist flinch away from the car at 0:22? Seems to me the cyclist is reacting to an aggressive driving style.

    • Their “defence” sounded like one big advertisement. It was worse than the original! Bah!

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