Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Road safety organisation accused of "victim-blaming" over cycling helmet campaign

"Don't be like Ted, wear a helmet on your head!" the video says, but some have told the road safety organisation it would be better off "tackling road danger at source"...

A road safety organisation has come under fire for its latest campaign, which urges cyclists to wear a helmet and has been criticised for "victim-blaming" and failing to tackle road danger "at source".

Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership — a group "working together to reduce road casualties" and is made up of representatives from the council, police, fire and rescue and the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner — launched the campaign, which has since been shared on Road Safety GB's website, a national road safety organisation.

In the video, which can be viewed on the Bedfordshire group's website, viewers are shown an animated story of a cyclist called Ted, who didn't wear a helmet on his head. "Whilst riding real quick, he hit a big stick, and now he's in a hospital bed," the rhyme ends.

Helmet campaign (Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership)
Helmet campaign (Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership)

The campaign was also shared on Road Safety GB's website, the national road safety organisation that is run in association with THINK! and representatives from groups across the UK, including local government road safety teams.

Road Safety GB said the campaign aims to make wearing a helmet "the norm", drawing on comparison with Australia where helmet use is mandatory and cyclists breaking the rules can be fined.

It was also revealed that all schools in Bedfordshire have been sent the resources to add to their social media accounts and pass on to parents in newsletters.

Helmet campaign (Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership)
Helmet campaign (Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership)

Promoting the three-week campaign, a spokesperson told Road Safety GB: "We are trying to make wearing a helmet the norm, as it is in Australia. To do so, we are targeting all age groups to change their habits – as has happened with the wearing of seatbelts over the years."

The campaign was shared on social media by one Twitter (X) user simply saying, "Oh dear", while another joked about the comparison to Australia a country "famous for so much cycling".

> Why is Dan Walker's claim that a bike helmet saved his life so controversial?

Another reply shared a link to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report which showed one in five people injured on Australian roads and paths is a cyclist while the rate of hospitalisation for cyclists increased by 1.5 per cent per year over the 17-year period of the report, 4.4 per cent year-on-year in the final six years of the report.

"If this approach works why do the stats show cycling is getting more dangerous in Australia? Stop victim-blaming and tackle road danger at source," they said. "If you really want to make the roads safer for people on bikes campaign for proper infrastructure. Helmets and personal protective equipment are not and never will be the answer."

The reply also tagged England's cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman, who famously said back in 2014 that helmets are "not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe".

> "No family should go through what mine did": Chris Boardman speaks about losing his mum at the hands of killer driver for the first time

In June, an Irish children's hospital consultant spoke out making the case for cyclists to be legally required to wear a helmet, arguing accident and emergency units see a spike in crash-related injuries during the summer months.

The UK government has repeatedly shut down occasional calls for cyclists to be required to wear a helmet, most recently in December of last year when a minister of state from the Department of Transport said the matter had been considered "at length" during the cycling and walking safety review in 2018.

They said: "The safety benefits of mandating cycle helmets for cyclists are likely to be outweighed by the fact that this would put some people off cycling, thereby reducing the wider health and environmental benefits. The Department recommends that cyclists should wear helmets, as set out in the Highway Code, but has no intention to make this a legal requirement."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

Add new comment

77 comments

Avatar
AidanR | 5 months ago
14 likes

Ah yes, that danger I face every day on the roads... big sticks.

Avatar
Pub bike replied to AidanR | 5 months ago
2 likes

I'm wondering if sticks will actually make cycling safer, at least for me, particularly if I always cycle with a big conspicuous bundle of them strapped sideways on to my rack sticking out either side.

Avatar
Losd | 5 months ago
2 likes

This is stupid. It's not one or the other. Drivers being held accountable is a good thing. More helmet use is a good thing. We can, and should, campaign for both.

Avatar
AidanR replied to Losd | 5 months ago
17 likes

Why should we be campaigning for cyclists to wear helmets? We should spend our time campaigning for things that reduce collisions and encourage more people to cycle (like proper infrastructure), not trying to mitigate the failure of the former and in doing so increasing the perceived risk of cycling and putting people off riding.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Losd | 5 months ago
14 likes
Losd wrote:

This is stupid. It's not one or the other. Drivers being held accountable is a good thing. More helmet use is a good thing. We can, and should, campaign for both.

People choosing to wear helmets might be a good thing, but campaigning for cycle helmets is not a good idea at all. The more that you emphasise the danger of cycling, the more that people are put off from it (one of the most common reasons people quote for not cycling is that they are afraid of the traffic) and of course the health benefits of cycling vastly outweigh any risks from cycling (statistically, that is).

Currently, it's slightly more dangerous for someone to walk a kilometre than it is to cycle a kilometre, so it would make more sense to campaign for pedestrian helmets. For some reason, that idea never seems to be discussed, yet people are always happy to be pushing the cycle helmet agenda instead.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to hawkinspeter | 5 months ago
12 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

(one of the most common reasons people quote for not cycling is that they are afraid of the traffic)

Not one of the most common, the most common reason.

Avatar
David9694 replied to Losd | 5 months ago
7 likes

Having a mishap with an obstacle is an example of when a cycle helmet can be beneficial and might be within its design capability.  If you're hit by a driver, then not so much. 

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 5 months ago
18 likes

"Don't be like Ted, get drivers to slow down instead"

Avatar
HoldingOn replied to hawkinspeter | 5 months ago
13 likes

Ted campaigning...

Avatar
Gashead | 5 months ago
14 likes

Any cartoons of motorists with head injuries who didn't wear a helmet?

Avatar
eburtthebike | 5 months ago
14 likes

OMG!  Another "road safety" organisation that knows the sum of the square of not much at all about road safety.  Surely someone on their staff pointed out that helmets only reduce minor injuries and that the death rate of cyclists doesn't fall as helmet wearing rates increase.  Or that in Australia, the place they want to emulate, it went up after the helmet law.

We can all make mistakes, but if you're running an organisation and publishing stuff, you really ought to know what you're talking about.  It's hard to believe the level of competence that is now the norm in this country.

EDIT: I went on to their website to leave a scathing but polite message, but got this:

2Have your say , until the 11th June 2023 we would like to hear your views on Road Safety in Bedfordshire please follow the link below.

Thank you, the survey has now closed"

So how long has this utter crap been up?

2nd EDIT: They've actually used two CUK safety videos, but didn't think to ask them about helmets!

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to eburtthebike | 5 months ago
1 like

And seatbelts don't save you if your car is crushed in an 80mph impact with you inside, so anyone who suggests you should wear one is a paid shill for Big Strap. 

Avatar
Krd51 replied to Brauchsel | 5 months ago
7 likes

Idiot!!!!!!

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Krd51 | 5 months ago
1 like
Krd51 wrote:

Idiot!!!!!!

Thank you for that helpful interjection. 

You lot are classic conspiracy theorists. There's literally nothing that could convince you helmets might have uses, nor even that anyone who thinks differently might do so for valid reasons. 

I've hit the ground from 20mph, and the bits that were protected came off a lot worse than the bits that weren't. I've hit my unprotected head in falls from height, resulting in temporary blindness and dizzy spells. I've never met a doctor (including ones working in trauma centres) who (when asked) doesn't strongly recommend helmet use. I've seen the damage to my brother's helmet from a fall onto a kerb, and was very glad it wasn't his skull that took the impact. 

And you lot will just bleat "that's anecdote" and "doctors don't know everything" and "but Australia" and "you don't wear a helmet when you're walking", and you just don't get it. 

Nobody sane thinks a helmet will help if you're run over by a truck. Not many people think they should be a legal requirement (and I don't either). There absolutely should be better infrastructure, better drivers and harsher punishments for the bad ones. But helmets are inexpensive, easy to use, and stop your head from hurting as much or as long if you hit it at speed. I honestly don't understand why you wouldn't wear one, still why it's so psychologically-important for you to posit some grand coalition of doctors and road safety campaigners who are trying to conceal The Truth. 

Avatar
AidanR replied to Brauchsel | 5 months ago
11 likes

Whilst I agree that the previous poster's comment wasn't particularly helpful, you are unhelpfully conflating two things - (1) what makes sense for an individual and (2) what makes good public policy. We are discussing the second.

Do I think safety campaigns focused on helmet use are a good idea? No. Do I wear a helmet when I ride? Yes. If you can't see why, then you need to do some more thinking.

Avatar
David9694 replied to Brauchsel | 5 months ago
8 likes

I guess it's a bit of a stretch to expect busy A&E staff to say "if only whoever hit this poor cyclist had been more careful"

Conspiracy is over-stating it, but there are plenty of drivers who seem to want to (i) suppress cycling generally and (ii) continue the transference of the myriad consequences and costs of driving on to others. 

Avatar
lesterama replied to Brauchsel | 5 months ago
5 likes

Sounds like you've been shafted by big strap-on

Pages

Latest Comments