Pedal Power

Issue 25
May 1998

www.ldcuc.org.uk

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New Committee

We have a new committee. Members can only hold a post for three years and this is the year we have had to change around.

Chairman Unfilled
We really need someone to fill this post. It's not too onerous and you will be well supported.

Secretary
David Bentley 236695
David is a keen FoE member with a wry sense of humour.

Treasurer John Catt 211468
John works in a bank so is ideally suited. He is our most logical thinker and a good man to have on your side in an argument. john.catt@overflow.com

Membership Secretary Ariadne Tampion 211468
Ariadne is a committed activist who is our mole in the Borough Council. She is trying hard to restore some order to our membership records. john.catt@overflow.com

Publicity Officer Anthony Kay 215468
Anthony has just suffered the indignity of having to buy a car after managing without one for many years. He is also chairman of Loughborough University Bicycle Users Group. a.kay@lboro.ac.uk

Newsletter Editor Clive Davis 0115 9831308
Less said the better, given to character assassination. cdavis@brushtraction.co.uk

Committee member Ruth Youngs 232861
Ruth is a familiar sight at many environmental meetings and also lobbies hard on pedestrian issues.

Committee member Graham Patient 557485
A welcome return for Graham who is actively involved with Shepshed Social Cyclists. It is good to see the different cycle groups in Loughborough getting closer together.

Committee member Roger Hill
Roger is an enthusiastic cyclist with a sharp mind.

NEW RESEARCH ON HELMET WEARING

A study by the Transport Research Laboratory ("Cycle Helmet Wearing in 1996", TRL Report 286, reported in "Cycle Digest" No.20, Spring 1998), based on observations of 27,000 cyclists at 79 sites, found that the overall proportion of cyclists wearing helmets had increased from 16% to 17.6% between 1994 and 1996.

But the study also split the results by local authority area, and related them to the initiatives taken by those authorities regarding cycle safety. Most had promoted helmets as one element of a range of initiatives; eleven had done nothing but promote helmets. In these eleven authorities, wearing rates had increased by 4% as compared to less than 1% in the other areas.

But by far the most interesting finding of the study concerned areas where helmets had been promoted, but the number of cyclists had increased. Here, wearing rates fell by 5% over the period of the study.

I was reminded of an early pro-helmet campaigner in a far-off city. His daughter refused to wear a helmet when she was at school, but when destined for higher education in Wolverhampton, begged her father to buy her a helmet. The reason? "Wolverhampton is a really hostile environment for cyclists." The campaigner told this story as a real triumph of helmet promotion.

So this leaves people who want to increase the amount of cycling and also want to increase the amount of helmet wearing with a bit of a problem. And I am not talking about a few nerds here - this is Government policy! Each individual is inclined to take risks (and you can't avoid them altogether) at a level which he or she finds comfortable, which may or may not include cycling. And each individual cyclist lives at a particular personal risk level which may or may not include wearing a helmet (instead of or in conjunction with other measures such as only going out in daylight, walking the difficult bits, or riding a tricycle).

The single most significant element in the safety of cyclists is the number of cyclists on the roads. "Critical mass" can be seen in most Dutch towns and cities, in Cambridge, and on protest rides elsewhere! Then the use of risk compensation devices is minimal. So in the event of the success of the National Cycling Strategy in raising cycling fourfold, we would expect to see a considerable reduction in the use of all such devices, including helmets. Make everywhere like Wolverhampton and the helmets will come out - but on far fewer heads.

Some would argue that legislation is the answer - make helmets compulsory. But that has already been done for motorcyclists. In the 1950's and 1960's, motorcycling was a normal part of many people's lives. Now it is confined to wild young men and impecunious mature females (with the occasional wild young woman and impecunious mature male). I don't think I even need to ask if we really want pedal cycling to go the same way.

I have long been concerned about the way helmets tend to be pushed on children. Any device which makes them feel more relaxed about falling off makes it more likely they will do so under the wheels of a motor vehicle - never mind what they may be learning about the philosophies of cycling and road safety. So I was particularly cheered by the finding that children's helmet wearing rates were found to be unaffected by short focused campaigns or events held as part of Child Safety Week.

Of course this is a complex issue, and some good further reading for those interested can be found in "Cycle Helmets - the case for and against" by Mayer Hillman, published by the Policy Studies Institute, 1993; and "Death on the Streets - cars and the mythology of road safety", Chapter 11, by Robert Davis, published by Leading Edge, 1993.

Ariadne Tampion

Forthcoming Events:

6-14th June - Bike Week

6th June - In Tandem informal ride 10 a.m. Gorse Covert Community Centre return 2 p.m. Contact Norman on 673330

6th June - 5 mile challenge with Andy Reed MP. John Storer House at 8.50 a.m. A6 cemetery entrance at 9.00 or Quorn Cross at 9.20.

6th June - How can we rid our town centres of vehicles. Public debate led by Andy Reed MP. John Storer House at 2.00 p.m.

7th June - Wildlife Cycle Tour of Mountsorrel and Quorn. All day event with pub lunch starting at 10.30 a.m. No children under 12. Ring Charnwood Wildlife Project on 264714 to reserve a place.

8th June - Pub run east trip to pub, bring lights. Meet Midland Railway Station 7.00 p.m.

10th June - National bike to work day, cyclist's breakfast at John Storer House at 8.30 a.m. Only 50p.

10th June - History of cycling at John Storer House at 7.30 p.m.

10th - June Social Cycling Evening Ride. Meet outside Crown Hotel, Market Place, Shepshed at 6.00 p.m.

1st July - Talk by John Parry of flywheel tram fame on Urban Transport - appropriate size, appropriate technology. 7 for 7.30 at JSH.

13th July - Tour of cycle facilities to assess their condition. This is when we update the condition report, if there is anything you want doing, now is the time to say.

10th August - Social ride with other Loughborough cycle groups. Meet at John Storer House at 6.00 p.m. To be confirmed.

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings take place at John Storer House, Wards End, Loughborough starting at 7.30 p.m.

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