Motor organisation wants to see "Ready Brek" kids and compulsory helmets

Company calls for Government intervention on issues

by Mark Appleton   March 3, 2011  

children cycling.jpg

Earlier this week we carried news of a bizarre anti-cyclist article in the Guild of Experienced Motorists’ customer magazine but as well as in print, there’s plenty of woolly-thinking on the company’s website.

An article entitled “Kids Should Get up and Glow like the Ready Brek ad” suggests children travelling to and from school should be compulsorily decked out in day-glo orange gear.

GEM chief executive David Williams said: “We believe a compulsory orange uniform, giving kids that ‘Ready brek glow’ would have an immensely positive impact on the safety of our children in the winter months.”

There is no mention of motorists adapting their driving styles to the demands of winter motoring in the article which goes on to claim that a GEM poll – no information given about size or methodology – “found that a staggering 86% of drivers said they worried about being able to see child pedestrians in the dark winter months. 9 out of 10 motorists said they felt parents did not do enough to ensure their child’s visibility and almost three quarters believed that fluorescent, reflective clothing should be compulsory on children walking to and from school.”

David Williams continues: “It is a very dangerous time of day and at the very least they should be wearing reflective arm bands or shoulder belts. We know that young people today are very style conscious and may well resist the idea but it is a concept of personal safety we are beginning to win with cycle helmets.”

That last reference concerns GEM’s adherence to the notion that helmet-use should be compulsory for all young cyclists in the UK and its sponsorship of a campaign by the British Helmet Initiative Trust to achieve that aim.

There are shades of “thought control” in the organisation’s backing for schools information packs which, according to David Williams: “provide information and guidance to allow teachers to create stimulating and interesting lessons on why all young cyclists should always wear a helmet. Teachers can also apply for a free demonstration kit which shows how an egg can be prevented from breaking when ‘fitted’ with a helmet like protector.”

Williams continues: "The scale of the problem of young cyclists receiving severe head injuries also requires government action. It is unreasonable to expect children to make an informed choice as to whether to wear a helmet or not. There needs to be clear guidance from Government in the form of legislation making it compulsory for all cyclists under the age of 14 to wear an approved safety helmet.”

Again there is no reference to the fact that compulsory helmet use would likely reduce the overall number of cyclists on the roads and bolster the notion that the car is king.

We can only assume that the reinforcement of GEM's perceived hierarchy of road use is the insidious message behind these initiatives which purport to be based on a concern for the safety of all road users. Jane King’s article – despite the apologies and protestations of editing mishaps – amply demonstrated that.
 

25 user comments

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What the..??!! That is so ridiculous it shouldn't deserve a response other than, "are you on crack?"

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 15:10

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"9 out 10 motorists said it wasn't their responsibility to drive according to the road conditions" is what it sounds like. Whereas if you asked the question with the opposite bias, most motorists would say "I don't think some poeple drive with enough care" ...

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [227 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 15:36

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Yes, not just cyclists are wearing reflective gear these days. I have seen one person with a light on both her and her dog. They even sell reflective clothing for dogs. Cars are so dominant in our culture these days that everything else needs to be lit up like a Christmas tree or risk getting knocked over. No sign of this changing either especially as a national tabloid's big campaign is entirely car centric. You just can't imagine them having a similar campaign about walking, bicycles or public transport.

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posted by yarrump [15 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:02

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Blame the victim again.

timlennon calls it right in my opinion. A driver not seeing a pedestrian is the driver's error, it is not the pedestrian's responsibility.

I'm sure most cyclists would say drivers should have their eyes restested every 5 years (and maybe their distance/hazard perception).

I'd be happy to take a basic driving test every 10 years. If that's too much to ask a brief theory test wouldn't go amiss. A fair number of drivers appear to have forgotten the contents of the Highway Code.

Helmet mythbusting appears to be in order too - they are not built to withstand being hit by a 4x4.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1946 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:16

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I bet the average age of the membership of GEM is about 80+ and they all wear hats in the car Surprise

I enjoy driving and I also enjoy cycling (I enjoy wearing hats but not in the car Cool ) but I want all road users to respect each other and GEM members to remember that if your on a bike, motorbike or walking you don't have a massive tin box protecting you so take more care when we are about. Also if your eyesight is that poor then don't drive a car it's against the law.

posted by IOM Paddy [38 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:23

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They can piss off. I'm not being told what to wear by a petrolhead special-pleading lobby group.

And do they seriously think there's going to be an actual law which says "it shall be an offence for any child who is not wearing an Approved Fluo-reflective Garment to leave his or her residence between the hours of 17:00 and 09:00" ?

Because if they do they are completely and utterly insane.

Yawn

posted by BigDummy [284 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:30

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Perhaps all cars should only be painted orange or yellow.
That way we could all see the cars much easier...

+ Daytime running laps (DTRL) are becoming compulsory/ regulatory soon (2012? for all new cars) - so the roads will be filled with volvo-eque vehicles Nerd

... ... need more speed!

JC's picture

posted by JC [126 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:42

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Compulsory orange clothing- for that stylish Guantanamo bay look.

posted by wild man [279 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 17:21

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What the woman in the photo needs to do is put some air in that back tyre and get the lad at the back to put some effort in.

Devil

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posted by djcritchley [146 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 17:25

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I'll be fine with this after they introduce compulsory helmets for motorists, both passengers and drivers, which would save a great many lives.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1339 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 18:07

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BigDummy wrote:
They can piss off. I'm not being told what to wear by a petrolhead special-pleading lobby group.

And do they seriously think there's going to be an actual law which says "it shall be an offence for any child who is not wearing an Approved Fluo-reflective Garment to leave his or her residence between the hours of 17:00 and 09:00" ?

Because if they do they are completely and utterly insane.

Yawn

I couldn't have said it better myself..

posted by don_don [149 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 18:36

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How would you enforce helmets, or high vis, for children anyway, even if it wasn't a barking mad idea which would likely stifle cycling and deny young people personal freedom? Are you going to fine them? Will their pocket money or the newspaper round be enough to pay the fine? Will they be deemed criminally responsible for not wearing a helmet when they can't be for, say, murdering a toddler? Or are you going to fine their parents? On what charge? When their kid removes his helmet as soon as he is out of sight?

You would have to have "strict liability" for the "offence".

Now there's an idea, how about strict liability for civil compensation claims by more vulnerable road users against less vulnerable?

posted by Paul M [309 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 18:50

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This is a difficult issue. I live in Scotland and visibility even at the best of times can be tricky. Even though I consider myself to be a safe/considerate road user, I am often shocked at just how difficult some cyclists are to see , often wearing dark colours - even black. I never leave the house on my bike without at least one article of bright/fluorescent clothing. My children all dress similarly as do their friends if they join us.
As a primary school teacher in charge of Cycle Training, helmets are compulsory and I have just used £430 of PSA money to purchase fluorescent jackets for all my cyclists throughout the school. These will be free to the children and will be "compulsory wear" while undergoing their training. I hope the children will then appreciate the benefit of wearing them in the future.
My grandad used to say to me "It's not who's right that counts, it's who's left............."

Kind Regards

Jono

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posted by JonoB [46 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 19:29

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One day in the not too distant future - all front house doors fitted with sensors to make sure you're decked out with glowing material before you venture out. Can't be too careful you know.

Good thing I use the back door/side entrance most of the time!

malverntrail's picture

posted by malverntrail [3 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 20:04

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dear road.cc - I may have to stop reading your daily idiot news stories as they make me madder than a 'Mail reader who's just been told that immigrants cause cancer.

I may have to just read the bits about shiny stuff from now on.

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posted by joemmo [797 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 23:06

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omg .. what next, oh this is what next !!! .... wonder
what the stopping distance of that pictured setup is ??

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [698 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 23:29

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When I was five or six, we were given reflective armbands to wear to from/school near Aberdeen (not much daylight up there in winter).

I can't quite remember if this was before or after a classmate, son of the village policeman, was run over and killed on his way to school one morning Sad

This would have been the turn of the 1970s - was it unusual that we were wearing armbands, or did anyone elsewhere in the country at the time have to do likewise?

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8031 posts]
4th March 2011 - 0:27

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therevokid wrote:
omg .. what next, oh this is what next !!! .... wonder
what the stopping distance of that pictured setup is ??

Thought the pic looked familiar, this is Oxford (looking from the High St towards Radcliffe Square) and honestly, this is nothing - I once saw a woman hauling four kids around (child seat front and rear, two on a tag-along).

One less car, I suppose Smile

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8031 posts]
4th March 2011 - 0:35

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
When I was five or six, we were given reflective armbands to wear to from/school near Aberdeen (not much daylight up there in winter).

I can't quite remember if this was before or after a classmate, son of the village policeman, was run over and killed on his way to school one morning Sad

This would have been the turn of the 1970s - was it unusual that we were wearing armbands, or did anyone elsewhere in the country at the time have to do likewise?

We got given armbands during cycling proficiency in the late 70's and in the early 80's there was a real push at my school to wear flouro stuff, including "Hot Dots" which were just little circles of bright yellow flouro sold to us cheaply. The teachers were very excited at how quickly they were selling until they realised, that we all started writing messages with these hot dots on any open space, jacket, schoolbag, blackboard. Some of these messages may even have been defamatory and / or libellous Devil

Shut up legs

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posted by slow-cyclo [74 posts]
4th March 2011 - 1:35

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
When I was five or six, we were given reflective armbands to wear to from/school near Aberdeen (not much daylight up there in winter).

I can't quite remember if this was before or after a classmate, son of the village policeman, was run over and killed on his way to school one morning Sad

This would have been the turn of the 1970s - was it unusual that we were wearing armbands, or did anyone elsewhere in the country at the time have to do likewise?

It was when, to keep in with Europe and the Common Market, we decided to get rid of daylight saving time changes.........we didn't put the clocks back which meant it was much darker in the mornings in Englandshire and even worse in Scotland..........hence armbands and tabbards were given free to children. I still remember going to primary school in the dark!

Kind Regards

Jono

JonoB's picture

posted by JonoB [46 posts]
4th March 2011 - 10:19

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how about a law reducing all speed limits for 10 mph when its dark?

let see how they like them apples

(serisouly....its not a bad idea now I think about it!!)
Thinking

posted by mrchrispy [285 posts]
4th March 2011 - 12:58

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@mrchrispy: I'm pretty sure some parts of the US have different speed limits at night than during the day. And a quick poke at Wikipedia tells me it's Montana and Texas.

posted by mr_stru [23 posts]
4th March 2011 - 13:30

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Like Jono and Simon I to remember going to school in Belfast with armband firmly in place during the early 70's due to the government at that time tinkering with double summer time - at the moment there is a private members bill being pushed through, on reading the paper today it seems that it may not get through as the government do not seem to place much importance on it in regards to tourism which is the angle that the 'responsible' MP is taking!!!

But back to the issue in hand, I really think that a 'motoring' magazine would be better trying to encourage their readers to be responsible drivers and to follow the highway code! There have been various studies that have concluded that motorists have a tendency to drive closer to cyclists wearing HiV's and helmets, this is my daily experience and I often feel like a target some days on my commute here in Glasgow Crying

Yes, vunerable road users need to wear more visible clothing etc BUT the individual cocooned in their two ton steel box with cage, air bags and other safety features also needs to aknowledge and respect the existence of other road users

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posted by giff77 [1049 posts]
4th March 2011 - 18:16

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They want cyclists to be seen - any chance of getting car owners to actually clean their lights during winter months so we can see them?

posted by abally [29 posts]
4th March 2011 - 20:15

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Why can't everyone just be sensible. While I cannot agree with Nazi-like demands for everyone to be decked out like a Christmas tree I can see the point of being seen. I have good eyesight (just been tested so I know this to be true) and have often been shocked at people suddenly 'appearing' from nowhere. Numerous times I have only been aware that there was someone walking down the pavement when the reflective strip on their trainers has been picked up as they are in the shadows and all in black. I'm amazed that some cyclists are ever seen, no lights, nothing reflective and all in dark colours, they ride along the pavement when it suits them and then dart into the road.

On the other hand I am a cyclist and detest the fact that cars are seen to be more important than any other road user. I've cycled to Germany and back for charity twice and the difference in how motorists treat cyclists in Holland and Germany really hits home when you land back in Blighty.

posted by Footpather [38 posts]
5th March 2011 - 11:09

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