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CARS! Enough of the Street Sportwashing

I've been thinking about my youth spent yelling this...

and how ironically, it is the increased ubiquity of cars that has put a stop to this call. Car dominance of our streets has grown to such a level that not only has playing close to home become near impossible but children & others ability to travel to safe play spaces is severely limited.


Yet car adverts continously co-opt the fun & freedom of the activities they prevent.


So, with nominations for the 'Bad Sport Awards' for Greenwash and Sportwash now open. I thought I'd share a few of my 'anti-favourite' examples of car advertising co-opting the energy & freedom of urban sport to limit those same freedoms.


Do you have any good examples of brands using street sport to advertise but doing nothing to support it? More positively do you have any examples of companies creating long-term sustainable changes to our environment to support people's activity and movement?


The nominations for the Active Urbanist award for worst co-opting of street sport by a car company are...

A basketball court squeezed between buildings, a ski-slope on a waste-to-energy plant. "Tomorrow says where there's space - make something from it" proclaim Ford as they drive through a playground and along a cycle path they airbrushed out of the ad.

Nose-to-tail in traffic, yet somehow gymnast Katelyn Ohashi has the space and safety to flip, twist and turn her way through the streets. Her athletic ability propels her to the front of the queue and into a car that sees all other traffic magically vanish.



The Nissan Qashqai is the "hatchback redefined", so much so that its been redefined as a skateboard -- a form of transport vilified along with teenagers for making the streets unsafe unlike the motor car.



Although this skater uses his board at home, Chevy recommend he "FIND NEW (apparently empty) ROADS" in his new Chevy Sonic to go buy milk -- I guess active travel would be unsafe with drivers like this about. Though dont' worry they do advise "Sonic is not a #skateboard, do not attempt".


A freerunner overcomes all obstacles as a car races through empty streets and boasts it is 'More Fun, More Swift' -- even though the reason they've included #Parkour because is because its more fun. This one might speak to advocates of pedestrian prioritisation.

The blurb that accompanies this ad says "Now its time to go out and play for your hopes and dreams". Wait but not you little girl playing football, you are a menace to society and the badass Kia Seltos is here to stop you. #NoBallGames


The trope behind most of these adverts is that they make use of how much more fun these sports look than the humdrum of day-to-day driving. This maybe best represented by the Citreon C4 literally transforming itself into a mode of #activetravel. They also made one where it turned into a breakdancing robot.

Despite the title I'm afraid Lexus have not made all your Marty McFly dreams come true. This hoverboard needs a special track to work, so Back to the Future is still someway off as its tough enough to get regular cycle (&skate) lanes but don't worry Lexus say ...


"There's no such thing as the impossible. Its just a matter of figuring out how.

How do things need to change? Well as car companies like Renault start telling us to walk and cycle more -- we need to see those words accompanied by actions. Not sponsorship of major sports tournaments but interventions that redress the imbalance of car dominance and invite movement and activity back to our streets.


Street sport is fun, cool, brands want to be associated with it -- its just a shame so few are really prepared to support less space for car parks, and more space for

@PhilipScoffield and other to play on their doorstep.






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