AA Cycle Safety Day

Free helmets/vests for London cyclists

15 April 2011

Ninety seven per cent of AA members think cyclists should wear helmets, according to an AA/Populus poll* of almost 16,000 AA members commissioned to promote AA Cycle Safety Day.

Responding to the results of the poll, the AA Charitable Trust gave away thousands of distinctive AA yellow cycle helmets and high visibility vests in London on Friday 15 April.

The day was a roaring success. The helmets and vests went like hot-cakes to a very grateful London cycling public.

When we got to the second location – Lincoln's Inn fields – for 1pm there were queues around the block and hundreds of helmets went in less than half an hour.

See more pictures from the day on our Flickr photostream.

Members of the National Cyclists' Assoication (CTC) came along and gave out copies of the Highway Code for a while at one of the locations which we thought was very helpful as rule 59 says 'You should wear a cycle helmet'.

It is envisaged that London users will keep the helmets and vests in their offices so that they are available for impromptu cycle rides in the capital.

Locations

The helmets and vests were given away to cyclists at two 'Boris Bikes' cycle docking station locations in central London - Waterloo Place, London SW1Y 4BN, and Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3NA.

Only 5% wear helmets

More than 110,000 people have taken out subscriptions to use the Barclays Cycle Hire bikes commonly referred to as 'Boris Bikes' in London and many more use the bikes as casual users.

In total around half a million cycle in London each day** and the Barclays scheme has boosted cycling journeys in the capital by around 20,000 each weekday but AA spot check surveys suggest that less than 5% of users wear helmets.

AA cycle patrols

Cycling has always been a part of the AA's history.

Today the AA has a team of cycle-based breakdown patrols to tackle traffic chaos at big events such as Wimbledon or Glastonbury.

The first AA patrols rode cycles from 1905 – some 40 years before patrol vans – and they were a regular sight on the nation's roads until the outbreak of the Second World War.

Comment

Commenting on the new AA cycle initiative, Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust and AA president, said:

"The AA has always had an interest in cycling and safety. Many of our staff, including me, are enthusiastic cyclists and we are keen to do more to promote cycle safety.

"Pushbikes are part of the 'two-wheeled' strategy at the AA, following the reintroduction of motorbikes to tackle congestion and emissions in London. We have harnessed the manoeuvrability of two wheels where this means quicker service to members.

"We welcome the increase in cycling brought about by the cycle hire scheme but we want to ensure that more cyclists don't lead to more casualties. The use of cycle helmets and vests by all cyclists could significantly reduce the number and severity of injuries that occur each year. Ninety seven per cent of AA members across the UK and in London think cyclists should wear helmets."

Training

The AA is also looking to promote more cycle training across the UK as AA/Populus figures show that less than one quarter of AA members who cycle have ever taken any cycle training. We hope that the AA Cycle Safety Day will help cyclists and motorists, who are often the same people, to coexist in harmony on our roads. Eighteen per cent of AA members cycle on a regular basis but we expect to see this number increase as fuel prices continue to escalate.

Factfile

Finished in AA yellow and fitted with a flashing safety LED light at the rear, the distinctive AA yellow helmets not only provide protection but will also make cyclists more visible in traffic.

The AA cycle helmets are approved to CE EN1078 – the harmonised European standard for cycle helmets. (This is marked on the inside of the helmet with the CE mark.) High-visibility vest in accordance with EN 471 regulations.

* AA Populus poll of 15,927 conducted between 26 November and 3 December 2010.

** TfL's Travel in London report reveals that during 2009, around half a million journeys were made by bicycle in London each day, reflecting 5% growth on the previous year, and a 61% increase on the levels seen between 1993 and 2001.

The AA online shop offers a range of AA Cycling Guide books and Sustrans Cycle Guides