It’s the Wrong Message


It seems that City Hall recently allowed the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency to stencil advertising on bike paths. Today’s LFP describes the ad campaign (“First ads to crack city bike paths get easy ride“; Jenni Dunning).

How did that escape me? Could it be that they rolled it out quietly so that nobody would be the wiser? A quick look on the city website using it’s own search tool failed to turn up any mention of this ‘initiative.’

Scott Stafford (the city’s parks and recreation division manager) is quoted as saying that “we thought it was a way to try something new to get some interest in our pathways.”

It’s a shame that they had to pervert Candy Chang’s idea which I promoted in my 2008/04/25 post.

If the City cares about the health of Londoners, physical and mental, it should immediately rethink this short-sighted strategy of wasting public easels to assault us with more commercial advertising. Inspirational messages and public service announcements would be a much better use of this valuable resource.


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18 Responses to “It’s the Wrong Message”

  1. Kevin Says:

    I have seen these for the past couple of months, but if I had not been using the bike paths for biking I would never had known about them.

    I dont really like the idea as I can see it getting out of control and eventually our river paths, areas used by people to relax and escape from the corporate world and advertising will be flooded with advertisements. Whether they are good nature in intentions is not the case, a precedent has now been set and can lead way to more and more of the same thing.

    Oh, and as usual there is the problem of graffiti. A photo I snapped sometime ago.

    Apparently someone thought this is funny but I fail to see the humour. Oh, and its still there like that, nothing done to clean it up, and this example is at the entrance to the path along one of London’s busiest streets (Richmond)

  2. Phronk Says:

    These make me a little uncomfortable every time I see them. If the goal is to improve public health, then maybe the city should be spending money to promote empirically-supported health decisions, rather than being paid off (and only $5000? doesn’t seem like much) to promote a particular product.

  3. Kevin Says:

    I was a little put off by that number when I read it this morning. If I were the city I would be asking for much more as I think its worth so much more.

  4. John Leschinski Says:

    I’m all for it, wouldn’t be something to try on a real road but bike paths are definitely a good fit for this sort of advertising. Glad to see London catching up with other cities.

  5. Kevin Says:

    The last thing I want when Im riding my bike along a scenic bike path is to be bombarded by corporate bullshit. Whether its apparently for the good of our health or not I dont think its the right place for it. Im all for the City making use of their properties and making money through advertisements, but choose the placement locations better.

  6. John Leschinski Says:

    It’s working more effectively then anyone probably hoped. So you’re likely to see more of it.

  7. Kevin Says:

    Here is another image I found (on Flickr)

    Against bike path advertising

  8. Phronk Says:

    Why would it be OK on bike paths but not on a real road?

  9. fowgre Says:

    Commercial advertising, if unregulated, will occupy every available space that it can. It will hammer people 24/7 with any method that it deems to be effective, without considering the social consequences. It’s the job of our elected reps to balance their rights in our capitalist democracy, on the one hand, with the health and safety of citizens on the other. There have to be limits. Which is why I publicly opposed the Richmond Street ‘jumbo-tron’ and have lobbied against ‘mobile advertising’ (vehicles with ad billboards attached), etc.

  10. Kevin Says:


    “…and have lobbied against ‘mobile advertising’ (vehicles with ad billboards attached), etc.”

    Does this include public transit?

  11. fowgre Says:

    The vehicles I’ve lobbied against are the ones that have been modified so that their primary purpose is advertising. Pickups with large billboards attached to the sides. They serve virtually no other purpose and are much more effective in distracting other drivers then the LTC ads. I’ve never lobbied against LTC ads, but now that you’ve drawn my attention to it, I am also opposed to the ads on the outside of the LTC buses also. For the simple fact that it’s a dangerous distraction to other drivers which puts them (and bicyclists and pedestrians) in unnecessary added danger.

  12. Kevin Says:

    Thank you for the clarification. While we are on this topic what about personal businesses, or corporate ones for that matter (ie Radio Stations) having advertising on their vehicles, does it have the same impact as the advertising that you have just described. Just wondering how broad the definition would have to be.

  13. fowgre Says:

    One of the tactics that some people like to employ in rejecting reasonable government restriction is the “big bad government is coming to get you and control every aspect of your life” argument. They nit-pick any suggested restriction to the extreme.

    I’m not accusing you of that. I’m just making a pre-emptive strike against any who might want to try that here.

    To answer your question…

    That’s not the sort of thing that I’ve got in mind for now (yes, that’s a qualified statement, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve got some nefarious plot in mind that I’m not revealing yet).

    It’s the things that have the greatest potential negative impact that I’d concentrate on. The biggest “in your face” ads are the ones most likely to distract a driver and cause an “accident.”

  14. Kevin Says:

    “”The biggest “in your face” ads are the ones most likely to distract a driver and cause an “accident.””

    I couldnt agree with you more, just wanted to know more of what was ticking in the brain of yours.

  15. John Leschinski Says:

    The market will regulate itself. If the majority of people do not want an ad in a park then they can make that happen by not buying those products. It’s fairly simple, and so far the majority of the market is willing to have ads around them.

  16. John Leschinski Says:

    @Phronk – Because you are moving to fast in a vehicle for it to be effective.

  17. Phronk Says:

    Probably true to an extent, but traffic signs on the road can be effective in communicating a quick message. I’m sure advertisers could figure out a way to make it work. But from an aesthetic or moral perspective, I don’t see why it matters if it’s on bike paths or roads (if anything, there’s more beauty to ruin on paths).

  18. John Leschinski Says:

    Most traffic signage isn’t on the road surface. When you come to a stop, you’d likely be on top of the message, if your driving you likely wont see it in time to absorb it. That’s why billboards are the dominant form in roadway advertising.

    The only time you’d see advertising on the road surface is if you were targeting pedestrians, and that would likely be done at a major pedestrian intersection like Dundas and Richmond.

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