The Latest From BostonBiker.org

News, Events, Updates


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.


submit Fallout From The BPHC Misguided Helmet Campaign Continues to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , ,
Posted in advocacy, news | 7 Comments »

New “No Excuses” Helmet Safety Campaign Misses Its Mark

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 14

I have been noticing a new safety campaign around town, and have gotten a couple emails about it. It seems the Boston Public Health Commission has been putting up posters, and laying down stickers in bike lanes to alert cyclists to the importance of wearing helmets.

Sure its a little in your face, but wearing a helmet is a good idea. Reading the stickers you might think its the law to wear a helmet (it isn’t if you are over 16), but other than that no big deal. Wear your stupid helmet people, come on.

Then I ran across this.

Holy shit! Really!

That is some seriously heavy imagery, not the least of which because its a young black man with a bloody face posted in area of town heavily trafficked by young black people.  This is some seriously violent imagery for a public safety campaign.

I get what they are trying to do, its sorta like those anti-smoking campaigns.

The idea being that you make not wearing a helmet socially unacceptable by appealing to the fear people have of getting injured. Anti-smoking campaigns work in a similar way, appealing to peoples fear of mortality in order to get them to make different choices. However there are some important differences.

  1. Smoking is an addiction, addictions require stronger pushes to get people to fight them.
  2. Cycling is GOOD FOR YOU! Showing bloody images of people on posters is not going to encourage people to cycle.
  3. More cyclists seem to equal safer cyclists. Several studies have shown that increasing the number of cyclists on the road will actually make them safer.
  4. Most fatal crashes involve vehicles and cyclists. Helmets are good, but driver/cyclist education, better engineered roads, and enforcement will go a lot further in preventing these crashes than helmet usage will.

In my mind public safety campaigns should be about doing the most good for the most people. So lets take a hard look at this sort of campaign.

  1. This does nothing to educate drivers or cyclists to change their behaviour (cars turning without looking being one of the biggest safety threat to cyclists)
  2. It actively discourages cycling, I know I would not be cycling if I thought my face would end up like that
  3. Less cyclists = less safety for cyclists, safety in numbers works the other way when your numbers decrease.
  4. Cycling is good for reducing other public health threats (fights obesity and diabetes, reduces car pollution which causes asthma by replacing car drivers with bike riders, reduces heart disease, etc)
  5. Therefor less cyclists = more harm to the public health

So adding it all up, these bloody violent ad campaigns might actually do more harm than they avoid.

I would have rather these dollars spent on ad’s that warn car drivers about checking their mirrors before making turns.  You could use the exact same image, but instead put it up on a billboard near known traffic jam locations, with the text “Do you want to be responsible for the death of someones son. Check your mirrors for cyclists before turning.”

You could still put little stickers in bike lanes encouraging people to wear helmets, you could use the same slogan. But if you want to do the most good for the public health, you are going to want to encourage more people to bike.  Then educate drivers about how to handle the increased number of people on bicycle.

If you need a visual ad for encouraging helmet use, you could appeal to sex.  Have hot people in nothing but helmets (I guess its ok to see bloody faces but not naked people, use some bushes to hide the “naughty” bits), with the ad text “You look better in a helmet.”   Or a picture of a mother with the text “Your mother worries, wear your helmet” or any of a number of funnier/better ad’s that wouldn’t scare people away from cycling.

Helmets are good, and people should wear them. But showing a kid who looks like someone took a bat to his face is not going to get more people to ride their bike, and I think we would all be better off if more people rode their bikes, with or without helmets.

I tried to find more information about this campaign, but the URL on the poster doesn’t seem to work. Have you seen more of these posters around town? Are there other bloody imagery or just this one picture? Do you think the potential reduction in cyclist numbers is worth increasing the current percentage of cyclists who wear a helmet? Do you think these ad’s are effective? Let me know in the comments.


submit New “No Excuses” Helmet Safety Campaign Misses Its Mark to reddit.com Add to Reddit.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in advocacy | 42 Comments »

The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • RIP Tom Menino Just 2 miles of paint in 2014? Sadness October 30, 2014
      Tweetwww.cyclelicio.us/2011/tom-menino-bicycle/ … We only wish Tom Menino had found riding a bike a bit sooner in his life. He may well still be with us given the health benefits of riding a bike. Sadly he got hit by a car … Continue reading →
      dotriderblog
    • Scoping Out Bike Routes While Driving October 30, 2014
      TweetDriving in and around cities has got to be one of the most stressful and frustrating experiences anyone can have. Drivers can’t let their guard down for even one minute for fear that a wayward car will lull them into … Continue reading →
      IsolateCyclist
    • 14th Annual Boston Halloween Bike Ride Is Tomorrow! October 30, 2014
      TweetGreg Hum (Contributor) plays drums on his bike, gets people together for really big midnight and monthly bike rides, and is easily distracted by shiny things and fried potatoes. He shares stories and more on his personal bike blog, The Humble … Continue reading →
      greg
    • 14th Annual Boston Halloween Bike Ride Is Tomorrow! October 30, 2014
      TweetGreg Hum (Contributor) plays drums on his bike, gets people together for really big midnight and monthly bike rides, and is easily distracted by shiny things and fried potatoes. He shares stories and more on his personal bike blog, The Humble … Continue reading →
      greg
    • Mayor Menino Has Passed Away. October 30, 2014
      TweetThomas M. Menino, the longest-serving mayor in Boston’s history, has died. He served as mayor from 1993 until 2013. The Boston Globe reports: Thomas Michael Menino, who insisted a mayor doesn’t need a grand vision to lead, then went on … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • I’m commuting – if you wanna race go enter a crit. October 29, 2014
      TweetSometimes you gotta love other commuters. Yesterday – riding – and it’s tuesday, so I do interval training on my 45 lbs commuter bike, loaded with packs. After a good session with my hear rate up into the 170+ zone … Continue reading →
      altbiker
    • TRUCKIN’ ON: Reducing the danger of Trucks and other Large Vehicles October 29, 2014
      Trucks are only 4% of vehicles in the United States but cause about 7% of pedestrian fatalities and 11% of cyclist fatalities. The disparity is even higher in urban areas – a London analysis found that the 4% of vehicles that were trucks were involved in nearly 53% of cyclist fatalities. In Boston, 7 out […]
      Steve Miller
    • People’s Pike or People’s Pillar to Post? October 27, 2014
      TweetHow would I like to think of the People’s Pike? I want to see a bicycle path and an adjacent footpath which avoid crossing and turning conflicts, passing under the ramps to the Turnpike and to the proposed West Station, … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • People’s Pike or People’s Pillar to Post? October 27, 2014
      TweetHow would I like to think of the People’s Pike? I want to see a bicycle path and an adjacent footpath which avoid crossing and turning conflicts, passing under the ramps to the Turnpike and to the proposed West Station, … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • People’s Pike or People’s Pillar to Post? October 27, 2014
      TweetHow would I like to think of the People’s Pike? I want to see a bicycle path and an adjacent footpath which avoid crossing and turning conflicts, passing under the ramps to the Turnpike and to the proposed West Station, … Continue reading →
      jsallen