Fallout From The BPHC Misguided Helmet Campaign Continues

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 23

Bikeyface nails it with this amazing infographic. See the whole thing here.

I think she really sums it up with the following statement:

There’s many points along the way where an individual, a community, and a city, can prevent more tragedies from happening. Helmet or not, when you put a car against a vulnerable road user, you know who the victim will be. Cities need to get real about safety. No excuses.

I am positive this is a response to the failed attempt by the Boston public health commission to promote helmet use with grizzly images of bloody cyclists.

As the url on the posters has finally started to direct to the BPHC website talking about the program.

It would seem they are taking the “hunker down” approach to their ad campaign. Spending most of their words on defending the program rather than showing in anyway that it will be or has been affective.

And the criticism didn’t just come from this humble blog, but rather from around the country.

From Bike Portland, to Bike Snob NYC, to Grist, The Atlantic, and a bunch of other well known blogs, this program has been widely panned as horrible. Literally people around the country and the world think this is a bad idea, as well as every single person I have talked to in Boston about it.

Its time for the BPHC to re-evaluate this misguided campaign. Frankly I am sick of looking at this poor mans bloody face every single day when I ride to work.

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Posted in advocacy, news | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Fallout From The BPHC Misguided Helmet Campaign Continues”

  1. By BD on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Please include my writeup as well:


  2. By Sean on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    I wrote them the following email and they dismissed it by referring me to this link


    My conclusion: they will not be persuaded that this campaign is misguided.

    Text of my email.

    I always wear a helmet while cycling, and I applaud the intention of your campaign, but I think the posters that show cyclists with FACIAL injuries are counterproductive. First, most of the injuries depicted would happen whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet (which covers the top of the head and not the face). Only a full face mountain bike helmet could prevent injuries to the face.

    Second, the most likely effect of your posters is to communicate to people that cycling is scary and dangerous and to be avoided, when report after report has shown that statistically cycling is good for health whether you wear a helmet or not (though, of course better if you use a helmet, lights, common sense etc.)

    Third, the most likely cause of injury or death on a bike is misbehavior by a cyclist or car driver. Running red lights and stops, not having adequate lighting after dark, passing too close to a cyclist, aggressive driving: all deserve higher priority than pictures of smashed up cyclists’ faces.

    Fourth, cyclists are the most vulnerable of road users, so while they must take some responsibility for their own safety they are also putting their lives in the hands of drivers of larger vehicles. The unwritten message of these posters to motorists is that cyclists bring injuries upon themselves. Too many motorists are already of this miinformed opinion, and their opinion should not be validated by public health dollars.

    I hope you will consider removing these posters and encouraging helmet use in a more positive way. Hot bodies clad in lycra perhaps ? 🙂

  3. By Liz on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Here’s the responses I got from my email to them (below). Interesting about facial injuries, though.:


    Oct 18 (6 days ago)

    to me
    I amend you for wearing a helmet and encouraging your friends to do so. I do the same. We collaborated with city and community partners, trauma doctors, and cycling advocates throughout this process. With varying opinions at the table, we, the whole group, landed on this after much dialogue, testing, and compromise.

    Per Boston trauma doctors who see a lot of crash victims in the ER, facial injuries among those not wearing helmets are much more severe than depicted in the two helmet-less ads. You can read how helmets can reduce the risk of upper and mid facial injuries by up to 65% in this JAMA article:
    Thompson DC, Nunn ME, Thompson RS, Rivara FP. Effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets in preventing serious facial injury. JAMA. 1996 Dec 25;276(24):1974-5.

    —–Original Message—–

    On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 2:57 PM, InjuryPrevention
    > Hi Liz,
    > Thanks for your feedback. We agree that cycling is good for you. The city has done a lot of work to encourage and increase cycling, including being one of the first U.S. cities to start a bikeshare program, improving infrastructure (e.g. adding over 50 miles of connected bike paths and 2,700 new parking spaces), and organizing community biking events. There were 142,000 Hubway bikeshare trips last year on top of general ridership and we anticipate a steady increase.
    > Biking is healthy, fun, and encouraged! We want people to bike and to be safe. A comprehensive safety plan not only requires continuous infrastructure improvements and an increase in visibility, but the use of helmets. Helmets are the single most effective way to reduce the risk of head, brain, and facial injuries– Riders are safer with helmets.
    > Our blog may address more of your concerns. Feel free to check it out: http://healthybostonblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/eye-catching-bike-safety-campaign-starts-citywide-conversation-about-helmets/

  4. By Rebecca Albrecht on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    @ BD – commenting does not work for your blog “bits by bike” though commenting on another word press blog did work for me.

  5. By latron on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    One note concerning our fine friend, the English languages: The images of bloodied cyclists are “grisly” (inspiring horror), not “grizzly” (as in the big bear).

    Otherwise totally agree on this. The goal should be to get more people cycling, not scare them off. And for my money, safety starts with bike-specific infrastructure.

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