- Bicycle Culture by Design: "bike helmet"

So. Some of our readers have us a link to a website that has, apparently, written some sort of comment about the TED x Copenhagen talk I gave a while back at the event here in Copenhagen. About The Culture of Fear relating to safety equipment and the slippery slope that society is on. Some website somewhere in another country commenting on something Copenhagenize has said is not really news. Such is the internet. It's a vast, ungovernable place and there is hardly time enough on the clock to click around to all of them. Unfortunately. What disappoints me about this article is that when a reader sent me a link the other day the title read "Danish Iconoclast Opposes Bicycle Helmets". On a link today on Facebook I could see that the title had been changed to "Danish Speaker Opposes Bicycle Helmets". Alas, I preferred the 'iconoclast' label: S: (n) iconoclast, image breaker (a destroyer of images used in religious worship)

It fit so well with the Cycle Helmets & Other Religious Symbols post. It underlines the Knowledge or Faith - it's your choice slogan at the Danish-language site,

To be honest, I haven't read the piece. It was posted on the website of something called "The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute" and I am rather used to reading texts attacking what I try to say about promoting cycling positively so I figured the text would be rather predictable. I had come across the site before at some point over the past four years, but didn't spend much there.

I have a habit of looking at the ranking add-on feature in my Firefox browser when looking at sites I've never been before. Alexa ranks websites using a variety of parameters. It's not a perfect system but in a busy everday on the internet it is sometimes helpful in determining a site's worth. Alexa has a golden cut-off of 100,000. Advertisers and investors look keenly at this Top 100,000 and it's tough to break into it. I've been told by colleagues in IT-related branches that the top 200,000 is highly regarded. What does it all mean? Absolutely no idea.

This 'Institute', according to Alexa, ranks at 2,225,047. That was enough for me to click on to other things.

Rest assured, there are many, many websites out there with a low ranking that are well worthing spending time on. I usually end up on them through referrals from friends and colleagues in my network. But you have to draw the line somewhere. Much like not bothering following someone on Twitter with 8 followers.

I was, however, curious. I put out an email to some colleagues, asking them about this 'Institute'. Ten emails in all. Five had no idea what it was. Three called it "the usual propaganda" or suchlike wording. One confused it (ironically) with the group of scientists and professionals who make up the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation. One email was more detailed, saying "the most utterly irrelevant and, at the same time, the most dangerous website in the battle to promote cycling."

Oh, goodness me. Sounds like the safety gear version of those vehicular cyclists.

I learned from the emails that it is largely the work of one man. Retired and concerned with 'safety', apparently. Bully for him. Although in a previous post we've highlighted the work of individuals on personal crusades. Which kind of makes the 'Institute' label seem a little grandiose.

Perhaps I should found the "Copenhagenize Institute for Bicycling Promotion".

I did notice that on the main page it states 'consumer funded'. Damn. I want to be consumer funded! I wish I had a powerful industry backing me so I could place Volunteer Run - Consumer Funded on my banner! That would be cool!

Or maybe I could start the Copenhagen Cycling Embassy and instead of the traditional diplomacy associated with 'embassies' I could use the label to market the products of several profit-oriented companies.

Alas, promoting cycling positively has few wealthy sponsors and the only real reward, apart from some modest revenue from ads for friends' companies, is seeing so many bicycles returning to the streets of cities all over the world. There ain't money in a blog like this, but get this... it's worth it. And remember kids, if wearing a bicycle helmet keeps someone on a bike - great! If not wearing a bicycle helmet keeps someone on a bike - great! I just wish the safety nannies would leave the latter group the fuck alone. More knowledge, less blind faith.

Have a lovely weekend. Oh, and anyone has read the above-mentioned article, give me some entertaining highlights in the comments.

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