Bij Volvo staat veiligheid voorop. Niet alleen van de mensen in een Volvo, maar ook van iedereen eromheen. Daarom introduceren we nu de POCito: de Volvo onder de kinderfietshelmen.
Translation: At Volvo safety comes first. Not only for the people in a Volvo, but also of everyone around it. Therefore we now introduce the POCito: the Volvo amongst the children’s bike helmets.
Am I being simplistic in seeing this as essentially the same as Smith & Wesson introducing and promoting children’s bulletproof vests to protect them from the guns they make?
Volvo continues in their press release to explain that each year in the Netherlands 35 children under 12 die “in traffic”. They don’t qualify whether this gruesome statistic has anything to do with bicycles, but actually that’s fairly irrelevant: Deaths and serious injuries amongst children while cycling are almost entirely inflicted by automobiles. As Mikael Colville Andersen frequently comments: They’re conveniently “ignoring the bull in the china shop.”
Later in the same press release Volvo explains their promotion of mandatory helmet laws in the Netherlands. From a business perspective it’s the obvious choice. The Dutch city planners widely recognize the danger that automobiles present to other street users and have been working hard for decades to minimize it. The primary safety tactics include excluding and slowing automobiles, and separating autos from bicyclists and other road users. This has very successfully led to both the safest roads in the world and the highest cycling rates. Promoting or enforcing helmet use, on the other hand, has shown to reduce cycling rates while safety gains are debatable at best.
Though we should always strive for improvement cycling is already mighty safe here in the Netherlands. Let’s just briefly look at Amsterdam, the capitol city in rough numbers:
As noted in an earlier post…
Heck, we can even go further and note that universal helmet use would indeed probably prevent death in a couple of those six yearly incidents, but certainly not all of them. And then there’s that other pesky problem: It’s been demonstrated that helmet laws and promotion decrease cycling rates and reduced numbers of cyclists increase the danger of cycling. So aside from deflecting some blame what does Volvo expect to accomplish through widespread helmet use?
My excuses for the lack of precise numbers and supporting statistics; There’s an impatient toddler tugging on me and it’s time to head to the office. But I can assure you I didn’t pull the above facts out of a hat or sleeve. If you want to investigate further there are plenty of numbers to be found elsewhere in this blog and far more on David Hembrow’s excellent blog.