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.
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.
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".
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".
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.