An email from the Environmental Transport Association today announces news of the latest campaign to force everyone under 14 to wear a cycle helmet. The call for compulsory legislation comes from the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, a charity that promotes helmet use amongst children. Their latest campaign will shortly be hitting every school in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in the form of teachers’ packs and DVDs.
But there are a few catches. Despite widespread evidence showing that head injuries amongst children occur in a wide range of circumstances, and particularly whilst in a car, this campaign is targeted at under 14’s only when they are on a bicycle. Second, the campaign is being funded by GEM, the motoring organisation. What would a motoring organisation be doing funding a campaign that wants to see cycle helmets compulsory for under 14 year old cyclists?
But perhaps most remarkable of all, GEM themselves have produced a “guide to safer cycling” featuring a child on a bike with a disconnected front brake. This potent brew of motoring interests, cycle helmet compulsion and dodgy brakes has provoked a stream of critical comments on the GEM blog. Have a look for yourself. Interestingly, whilst I’ve been writing this, GEM have pulled the link to the document in question.
The sad thing is, this is precisely the sort of “advice” that reaches our decision makers via well-paid lobbyists, whilst the real knowledge that is out there about cycling safety, and has been regularly featured on this blog, gets routinely ignored.
Perhaps the last word should go to our great friend and film-maker Mike Rubbo, who made this short film a while ago about an Australian cyclist who refuses to obey the compulsory helmet law down there.