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Policy statement


Campaign group stops publicising events that require helmet use

Scottish cycling campaign group Spokes, which has an extensive membership among cyclists in Edinburgh and the Lothian area of Scotland, has announced that it is to stop publicising cycling events that require participants to wear a helmet. It calls upon other organisations concerned about public health to do the same.

Spokes says that the increasing requirement of event organisers for participants to wear a helmet – in some cases applicable to all riders, in others only to those below a certain age – fails to take into account arguments against helmet compulsion and it amounts to what it calls "the creeping growth of semi-compulsion".

It also believes that the requirement to use a helmet reinforces the false perception that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity, and is calling upon government-funded bodies such as Cycling Scotland to cease using images in promotional material that only show cyclists wearing helmets.

Spokes insists that the best way to improve the safety of cyclists is to encourage more people to get riding, something that it claims is being undermined by there being too much emphasis on using a helmet.

"Helmet advertisers, promoters and government agencies bombard us with the benefits but, disgracefully, we are never told of the risks – although there is evidence on both sides, and crashes and injuries occur as a result of the risks of helmets", says Spokes. "Compulsion, or one-sided promotion, is very wrong – even more so as they put people off the healthy choice of getting about by bike."

In a news report about Spokes' action in the Scotsman newspaper, Michael Corley, campaigns manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also argues against helmet compulsion, saying "We do not believe it is practical to make the use of cycle helmets mandatory."

Fri 8 Jun 2012

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