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Monday, May 27, 2013

Bike helmets obsession stopping people cycling, claims expert [bikeradar]

The UK, USA and Australia have an “almost pornographic obsession” with helmet safety that could be hindering greater numbers of people commuting by bike, a leading urban cycling expert has said. 
Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO of bicycle culture specialists Copenhagenize Design Company, said, “Every time you see a helmet you’re thinking, ‘Shit, damn, what that person’s doing is dangerous.’ If I walked through central London with a bulletproof vest on the outside of my clothing and a couple of other people did the same, people would say, ‘Whoa, what’s up with that – is it that dangerous?  Is there shooting?’ It’s negative marketing.”
“It’s an interesting cultural question as to why, in Anglo Saxon countries, there’s this almost pornographic obsession with safety, whereas in France and Spain they don’t promote helmets,” he told BikeRadar. “The NGOs [non governmental organisations] know that promotion – let alone legislation – is a cause for lower cycling levels; a hurdle.”
Colville-Andersen, a long-standing opponent of helmet promotion and mandatory helmet laws, pointed to Copenhagen, a city renowned for its cycle friendly culture where relatively few people wear a helmet on their daily commute.
“Thirty-six percent of the population in Copenhagen who ride to work or their place of education every day contribute €233m to the public in health savings every year, just because they’re healthier,” he said. “These aren’t your MAMILs [middle aged men in Lycra] or your Lycra louts, they’re your 40-year-old mother listening to her iPod cycling to work. The health benefits are 20 times greater than any risk; it’s stupid not to be promoting cycling positively.”


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