Walking and Cycling Commissioner Adam Tranter landed his new job just three months ago – but has already taken the lead in a heated debate over helmet safety. And it’s one he stoked by defying the law of unintended consequences.
Mr Tranter was appointed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street in December in a bid to inspire more people to switch to ‘active travel’ after previously volunteering as cycling mayor for Coventry. Working with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the Department for Transport and local partners, the aim is to improve the region’s cycling and walking policies and plans.
But in a Birmingham Mail column, Mr Tranter said he had ‘already spent too much time explaining to people why I don’t always wear a helmet. It tends to dominate the conversation about cycling as he there are a lot of things that would have a much greater impact on safety.”
Read more:Here are 10 ways to get more out of your car in 2022
He says other factors such as Dutch-style infrastructure could do more to improve safety, while reducing deaths from inactivity, as people shouldn’t be “required to wear special safety gear. ” in order to enjoy the health benefits of travel. on two wheels.
Mr Tranter made his comments a week from now when he joins Mayor Andy Street on Colmore Row today (March 10) to mark the first anniversary of the introduction of the West Midlands cycle hire scheme. They will reveal how many times the 24/7 bikes were used in the region in their first 12 months. There are dozens of ‘Unlock, Ride, Dock and Lock’ stations in Birmingham alone, but whether users buy minute passes in advance or pay as they ride, no headphones are provided .
Speaking about whether everyone should always wear a helmet while cycling, Mr Tranter added: “Imagine if every time you went for a ride you felt you had to wear safety gear or risk injury. “to be judged by people on Facebook. Most people wouldn’t bother to walk a lot. But that’s exactly what we expect from cyclists, even if we have to remove millions of Brum’s short trips by car. A quarter of residents’ car journeys in Birmingham are less than a mile, or around five to seven minutes by bike.
“In order to make cycling a normal, everyday activity, we need to make active commuting as convenient as possible. You can’t do that by imposing onerous requirements on people, like requiring them to wear special safety gear. By reducing barriers to cycling, we have a chance of tackling almost 90,000 deaths a year, which result from illnesses related to physical inactivity.”
Mr Tranter said less than one per cent of people wore helmets in cities like Utrecht where more than half of all travel was on two wheels. He added: “If we’re going to reap the huge benefits of cycling, we need to stop wiggling our fingers and start supporting the kind of dedicated infrastructure that will truly keep people safe.”
When he posted the column on his @adamtranter Twitter account, it created a series of chain reactions – with many pleading to disagree with his views while others supported his views.
Jeremy Canon said: “Your position, given your position, is dangerous. You are a figurehead in cycling…As cyclists we are solely responsible for our safety. Would you go out at night without your lights on? Would you go out at night without wearing reflective clothing?”
Patsyports wrote: “Several years ago, when I was in the hospital, I asked a nurse what were the worst things she had ever had to deal with. She replied, “Head injuries from people not wearing bike helmets. I followed the advice.”
Colin Harper added, “Why not just wear a headset, avoid distraction and address the real issues.”
In response to people who still disagreed with his argument, Mr Tranter wrote: “My article clarifies my position. We cannot base population size policy on a small number of personal anecdotes – or waste time discussing it further. In fact, we would make shin guards mandatory for all motorists on that basis.”
- From March 7 to midnight March 13, 2022, West Midlands Cycle Hire customers will be able to take advantage of 50% off 100-minute packages. Each weekday a birthday balloon attached to a bike will be available to find, the winner who finds the balloon will be rewarded with 300 free bike rental minutes. There are dozens of docks in Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Stourbridge, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall and Wolverhampton and e-bikes are also being introduced with prices per full hour at £4.50 (minute package) or 7 £.50 (pay as you go) compared to £3 and £4 for standard pedal-only bikes.
Pros and cons of helmets – what people said
Lisa: “My daughter works in a neurorehabilitation unit for acquired brain injury. I doubt she would agree with you,” to which Gary Cummins replied, “What is his opinion on drivers who don’t wear helmets, I suspect she encounters a lot of drivers with head injuries.”
Ericeatspickles wrote: “Frustratingly, your safety on a bike is the last thing those fidgety fingers care about…” while Nerd added: “So you’re not ready to protect your own brain, but you want all the bike paths to be padded with expensive cushions?”
Dr. Robert O’Toole said: “Children in Kenilworth (Warwickshire) are campaigning for safer cycle routes to school. Every day my 10 year old rides his bike. He is very brave. Motorists often behave aggressively towards him. It’s not at all safe.”
Yoav Tzabar: “Whenever someone scolds me for not wearing a helmet, I say, ‘Do you want a reasoned discussion or a full rant? I can do either. “That usually shuts them up.”
Dave McCraw said: “Life expectancy is higher as a bareheaded cyclist than as a non-cyclist, so I can’t bring myself to get too excited about other people’s choices here, as long as they don’t don’t try to impose bad science on everyone.
Owen deVisser: My friend was hit on a Birmingham road and his helmet saved his life. If you died because you didn’t wear a helmet, I don’t think that’s a good example to set.”
He later added: “I have read some more and your numbers seem to be true (although most of you are wearing helmets yourself in your own photos) I will continue to wear mine as I feel safer with due to my personal experiences.”
JT: “I think your comment here is perfect ‘I feel safer with it’ – and it’s exactly that feeling of increased security that will unconsciously cause you to take more risks when riding a bike – it’s a perfect example risk compensation.”
Dom Cotton said: “While infrastructure mixes cars and bikes, many people feel safer with a helmet. Making them easier to transport (thro design) is one way to remove this barrier to riding. Ultimately account, helmet use is a personal choice.”
To which Mr Tranter replied: “Absolutely. I mostly wear one, but the inconvenience and bulk of having one for spontaneous bike rides means I don’t. And worse, it could stop others from riding a bike if they feel they “must” wear one. Cycling is always a good thing as we know.”
Ezo Cycle said: “But that’s the problem we cyclists face, we’re advocating for safety and people who don’t want to give up anything to achieve that will laugh at what we do or don’t do as if we don’t we weren’t helping. It makes us irresponsible when it’s actually the other way around.”
caro black said: “A low-speed fall from a bicycle is more likely to result in broken wrists, knees, elbows or collarbones…Or in my case, ribs. Just being hit by something moving much faster is where helmets come in. Drivers, please don’t hit me – especially not at high speeds. Thank you.”
Offer another type of security advice, A1_mec said: “I usually wear a blue baseball cap when I ride my bike which protects me from low branches and has the added bonus of making me look like a copper – so I get (a little) less abuse from the drivers!”
Surrey by bike said there will soon be another reason to wear a helmet from March 25: “It’s the best place to mount a camera to film people using their mobile phones while driving and help the police make our roads safer for everyone.”
Cycletothesea added: “The sheer fanaticism of some people preaching to others to wear helmets is truly disturbing. Please don’t worry about my choices, you are not responsible for them. Just go for a ride.”
Llwynog posted: “I was hit by a car once, and wearing a helmet meant the dent was on the side of the helmet and not on my head. I will continue to wear the helmet but you are all free to do what you want.”
Andro Espongo says: “I had an “off” in September 2020, injured in the hospital for 9 days. Multiple head fractures, hand fracture and minor neck fractures. “Thank goodness you were wearing a helmet!” said his wife. Me, unreadable, “What? Really…”.”
Guy Harwood Noted: “The comment about helmets was pathetic! The best way to protect someone while riding a bike if something unfortunate should happen is to WEAR A HELMET!!!”
Read more: Real cost of an e-scooter compared to buses, trains, cars, taxis and folding bikes
Look: Bike rental – full test with park dogs and potholes