Promoting Safer Cycling

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 31.

I have recently represented Cambridge Cycling Campaign at several meetings of the Health for Cambridgeshire initiative. This is a partnership of organisations working to promote cycling and to reduce cycle casualties.

Initially, work is being concentrated on a replacement for the annual October ‘Cyclists Beware, Beware Cyclists’ campaign. It has been accepted for some time that this message has become a bit tired and ineffective.

We certainly welcome the emphasis on the promotion of both cycling and safer cycling, and would favour messages such as: cycle assertively, obey the law, do not get stuck down the left hand side of long vehicles. But I also see the Cycling Campaign’s role as insisting that other factors affecting cycle casualties, such as driver behaviour, enforcement or engineering, are not forgotten.

The current plan is to work on promotion this year, then to run a workshop in February, on cycle casualty reduction. This will be based on up-to-date research and statistics, and will include a landmark debate on cycle helmet promotion and effectiveness (or otherwise).

In the meantime, the County Council’s Road Safety department will once again be getting a local shop to sell helmets, locks and lights to students at the annual ‘Freshers’ Fair. We have asked them to specify a minimum standard of helmet, following concerns last October about the quality of the helmets supplied.

Meanwhile, following changes in the way that health care services are organised and provided locally, Cambridge’s Primary Care Group (‘PCG’) is also keen to reduce cycle casualties – and improve public health – by promoting cycling. We hope to find out more at a meeting with Mike Knapton, the Chairman of the Cambridge City PCG, later this summer.

Clare Macrae