Today has been designated “Cycle Safety Day” by no less than national motoring organisation the AA. To celebrate this self appointed day, the AA has announced that this morning it will be handing out 5,000 sets of free helmets and high-visibility vests to London commuters.
The helmets and vests with AA branding will be will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from Boris Bike docking stations at two locations - Waterloo Place (SW1Y 4BN) from 7.30am and Lincoln’s Inn Fields (WC2A 3NA) from 1pm. For those people who do not live in London, fear not the AA plans to host similar events handing out free helmets and vests in other UK cities and towns.
While a commendable action on the AA’s part, maybe it has misjudged the reaction of cyclists to its move judging by comments on twitter yesterday afternoon when the Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall announced the AA’s plans.
Cyclists negativity to the initiative was not helped by the AA Charitable Trust claiming on the “Cycle Safety Day” press release that 97% of AA’s 16,000 members think cyclists should wear helmets. I’m sure they do.
A number of tweets to the AA President Edmund King (@AAPresident) sarcastically mention that maybe the AA should concentrate on teaching motorists how to drive properly. For instance, @SarcastiCyclist quips that 100% of cyclists want to see motorist get off their mobile phones while driving.
AA loves cycling
In the press release, Mr King is keen to point out that despite being a motoring organisation, the AA “has always had an interest in cycling and safety”
“We welcome the increase in cycling… but we want to ensure that more cyclists don’t lead to more casualties. The use of cycle helmets and vests by all cyclists could significantly reduce the number and severity of injuries that occur each year.”
Mr King responding to negativity towards the AA’s campaign told the Evening Standard that the adverse reaction to it was from what he called a “minority” of cyclists, and expressed disappointment that AA’s motives should be questioned.
Mr King has stressed that the AA doesn’t want to see a law to make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets. An issue that has been grabbing national newspaper column inches and debate this week after cycling minister Norman Baker declared that he did not wear a cycling helmet as was his libertarian right.