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Cycling UK angered by Highway Code’s ‘victim blaming’ helmet advice

Cycling UK angered by Highway Code’s ‘victim blaming’ helmet advice

Cycling campaigners have reacted angrily to a tweet from the official Highway Code account that said cyclists should wear helmets and protective clothing, and said that it leads to a culture of “victim blaming”. A tweet by the official Highway Code account encouraging people to wear “appropriate clothes for cycling” was met with negative responses…

Cycling campaigners have reacted angrily to a tweet from the official Highway Code account that said cyclists should wear helmets and protective clothing, and said that it leads to a culture of “victim blaming”.

A tweet by the official Highway Code account encouraging people to wear “appropriate clothes for cycling” was met with negative responses from those who believe them to be ineffective. The code is published by the Department for Transport.

A spokesperson for Cycling UK said the recommendations lead to a culture of “victim blaming” of cyclists and allow careless drivers to evade responsibility.

Cycling UK said: “Helmets are only really effective in low-impact collisions, we need better infrastructure for cyclists and education for drivers.

“If you look at places like the Netherlands and Denmark, where there are more cyclists, it’s not helmets that contribute to low death rates for cyclists but roadscapes and townscapes that are designed to keep people safe.”

The Highway Code advises cyclists to wear a helmet which conforms to current regulations, to avoid clothing which may get tangled in wheels or obscure lights, and to wear light or fluorescent-coloured clothing and reflective clothing or accessories in the dark. None of the guidelines are legal requirements.

Chris Boardman, the former Olympic racing cyclist, also responded to the Highway Code account. Quoting the tweet, he said: “Like the 1950’s healthy people smoke Marlborough messages – we will look back on in years to come and ask what were we thinking.”

Cyclist Ricky Carterna responded to the tweet saying: “Hi viz, helmets and appropriate clothing have no effect when hit by a careless inattentive driver in a 1 tonne metal vehicle traveling at 30mph.

“I have worn these recommended articles and still been wiped out. Focus your attention on the cause and stop victim blaming.”

Not everyone is opposed to the Highway Code’s advice. Last week, the sister of a cyclist who died after being hit by a tractor in Leicestershire launched a petition to make it compulsory for people to wear a helmet and display working lights while on the road.

The 2018 Tour de France champion, Geraint Thomas, also said he felt helmets should be made compulsory for cyclists last August.

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