Bicycling’s Chief Promotional Officer (CPO) Mikael Colville-Andersen has given a talk at TEDx Copenhagen today. He was an engaging and entertaining speaker. I’d never seen any talks given by him in the past.
I had been looking forward to hearing what this learned individual had to say about bicycle promotion. Copenhagen is a bicycling haven and I knew that the talk would be given to a largely Danish audience. I thought this might put the ideas he presented outside the realm of my promotional agenda here in Waterloo.
Still, I hoped for a nugget of wisdom that I could bring to my local area that would help grow cycling and make positive difference in my community.
Then he spoke and boy, was I disappointed….
His choice of topic was ‘Why We Shouldn’t Bike with a Helmet’. In the cycling world, it’s a real topic and is hotly debated (honestly). Many cyclists, erring on the side of caution, happily wear helmets. Helmet detractors usually believe that helmets send the wrong message about the dangers of cycling.
In his TEDx talk, Mikael goes as far as to point to helmet campaigns as promotion of a fear culture surrounding cycling. This culture of fear will keep people from adopting the bicycle as a reasonable mode of transport because they will be, well…. afraid.
Maybe words have merit, maybe not. We’re not going to solve the helmet issue on Waterloo Bikes. I actually find his choice of topic a curious one. Outside Denmark (and Holland) there are so many bicycle transport issues that are far more important than helmet propaganda, real or imagined.
I would have really appreciated hearing him address issues that I consider far more influential in preventing bicycle uptake. Issues like motorist education, safe bicycle infrastructure, local government policies and cyclist education.
Am I being too hard on the guy? He was speaking in Denmark to a Danish audience using Danish statistics. However, the talk was broadcast all over the TEDx world.