Volvo promotes cycle helmets for children

Car company accused of hypocrisy

Swedish car company Volvo have teamed up with the country's top sports protection specialists, POC, to develop a new children's cycle helmet.

Recently promoted at a primary school in the Netherlands, the bright orange lid has sparked controversy, with critics accusing Volvo of hypocrisy.

Henry Cutler, of Amsterdam’s Workcycles, runs the Bakfiets en Meer blog where he cuttingly introduces the story with the headline "Volvo introduces helmet to protect against Volvos". He compares the car company's promotion of the cycle helmet with Smith & Wesson introducing children’s bulletproof vests.

Volvo have also been accused of using the lid as a cheap ploy to market their new pedestrian safety detection system. Critics point out that this is only available as an option on one model, the S60, which undermines the company's claim that safety is their paramount concern.

At the helmet's Dutch primary school launch, presentations were made by Volvo’s advisor on children’s safety in traffic, a paediatric trauma physician and surgeon. All children at the school were, reportedly, offered a helmet.

Ironically, in Volvo’s Swedish homeland, latest research by the VTI (the

National Road
and Transport Insitute) suggests the number of cyclists aged six to 15 halved between 1988 and 2008 – perhaps in part due to helmet wearing being compulsory for under-15s.

Helmet use is not compulsory in the Netherlands, where town planners prefer to minimise the danger to cyclists from motor vehicles by separating the two. Dutch cycling conditions are some of the safest in the world.

It is supported by many large institutions, however. Veilig Verkeer Nederland, the Dutch traffic safety organisation, has backed Volvo’s helmet initiative. In the UK, the Paediatric Emergency Medicine Association has called for cycle helmet wearing to be made compulsory.

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