The Oxford Mail has launched a campaign encouraging the use of cycle helmets and offering readers the chance to purchase one for just £5. While doubtless well-intentioned, some may take issue with the tone of the coverage, with one recent article headlined ‘WEAR ONE TO SURVIVE’.
Last month a preliminary inquest heard that Oxford cyclist Claudia Comberti had lost her balance and fallen sideways while waiting at a set of traffic lights before she was run over by a bus.
A pathologist established a cause of death as head trauma. The inquest will take place on October 26.
Campaigners have since launched a petition requesting a ban on private cars and motorbikes in certain parts of Oxford and improved cycle infrastructure throughout the city.
Oxfordshire County Council, the authority responsible for roads in the city, has previously come in for criticism for the way in which cycling schemes have been implemented.
For its part, The Oxford Mail has launched a campaign entitled Be Bike Safe with readers given vouchers to purchase reduced price helmets.
The newspaper took to the streets during rush hour to see how many local cyclists were wearing helmets. It said that more than half of those riding along one of the city’s busiest commuter routes had opted not to wear one.
In another article, focusing on a woman whose daughter was seriously injured after being knocked off her bike in Singapore, the subject of the article expressed her belief that wearing a helmet should be the law.
British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman has previously been critical of the perennial debate about mandatory cycle helmets, saying: “It’s not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.”
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety campaigner said: “The Oxford Mail’s headline “Wear one to survive” clearly suggests cycling is inherently dangerous and requires protective equipment. Statistically that’s nonsense, and no sensible person would suggest that you must wear protective equipment to guard against any risk at any time.
“If their chief concern was about cycle safety, then they would do better to run a Space for Cycling campaign for Oxford City centre. Cycling infrastructure which minimises dangerous interactions with other vehicles is what will keep people safer and healthier in the long run, while also making Oxford a better city to live, work and study in.”