This 1996 Australian study suggests that a mandatory helmet law for motor vehicle occupants could save seventeen times more people from death and serious head injury than a similar law for cyclists.
Back in May Stockholm ran the “tack för att du cyklar” (thank you for cycling) day. As a thank you for cycling, improving the environment and reducing traffic congestion in central Stockholm, each person who passed a designated station between certain times was given a hi-vis vest so they can be easily seen, a map of cycle tracks in Stockholm and a leaflet with some helpful safety tips such as “wear a helmet, it’ll protect your head.” I hadn’t started cycling then but I heard that many people thought it had been a great success. Unfortunately those people do not seem to have been cyclists.
What the organisers had failed to realise was that the people who are cycling at these times are mostly not casual cyclists. They are aware that they need to be seen and not hurt, they know their route and they certainly know that a helmet will protect their heads. In short, the “thank you” wasn’t really much use to many people.
On the 25th of September it was time for another thank you. This time I was one of the people who passed through Norrtull between 0700 and 0830. I was excited to get into work and look in my goodie bag to see what I’d got and if the organisers had listened to those who thought that May’s attempt had fallen a bit flat.
The answer? Apparently not…
I know that at least one person in my office cycled in that day just to get her goodie bag and that’s great. But one day isn’t going to solve things. A better idea would be to solve the underlying issues. Sort out the bumpy and difficult to ride on cycle paths, make it easier to cross Norrtull without standing still at the lights for 10 minutes (yes, I do actually stop for lights), stop having bike lanes that just suddenly vanish without trace or warning. Maybe then more people will feel encouraged to take up cycling to work on a more permanent basis.