Here They Are: DOT’s “Don’t Be a Jerk” PSAs

After a few months of intense build-up and anticipation, NYC DOT made the big reveal today and launched its “Don’t Be a Jerk” cycling etiquette campaign. We’ve been fiercely debating these PSAs on Streetsblog since before we ever saw them, but I’m going to take a pretty boring position. Yeah, it rubs me the wrong way to hear the word “jerk” dubbed in repeatedly (would have been nice to at least hear an “I’m walkin’ here!” to mix it up a little), but overall I sort of like these spots.

Top three reasons:

  • At the end of each one, the parties have had their disagreements, they’ve made eye contact, and they’ve moved on. Message: When horn-honking is not an option and there are no windshields between us, we can talk stuff out on the street. Maybe it doesn’t work that way in real life, but I like the message.
  • Cyclists getting on the case of other cyclists — I’m into it.
  • Who can look at Paulina Porizkova’s smile and come away thinking, “You know what, cyclists are jerks.” I’m just having a hard time seeing how these spots could inflame motorist rage, poison cyclist-pedestrian relations, or otherwise feed the backlash.

And, now that we’ve had some cycling etiquette PSAs with some insouciant language, maybe the next round of safe driving PSAs can ratchet up the intensity a few more levels.

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