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Cycling activist: Safety talk should tackle roads, not helmets

The number of cyclists has gone up in recent times, while accidents have actually decreased on a yearly scale. One activist says that biking citizens' safety would be even better if bicycle paths were properly maintained.

Pyöräilijä ja jalankulkija odottavat vihreää valoa suojatien laidassa
Image: Jukka Töyli / Tampere

Chair of the Tampere Cyclists Pompo Stenberg says that his city needs better bike lanes. Instead of building more, the city should improve and maintain the ones it already has, he says.

The best maintained lanes separate bikers from both pedestrians and traffic with block paving, and roads should have two lanes each going in opposite directions on opposite sides.

"That's how we would better avoid collisions and near-misses between different forms of traffic," Stenberg says. "Cyclists are not fast pedestrians, they are slow vehicles!"

"Helmets do not prevent accidents"

Chairman Stenberg says he is against the legal imperative for wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle. Helmets, he says, do not prevent a single accident from happening, but only lessen the consequences of them.

"Forcing people to wear helmets decreases the number of cyclists. But the fact is that bike lanes would be safer if there were more bikers on them," Stenberg says.

He underlines that the discussion on bicycle road safety should be steered away from helmets, which do not cause accidents, to the official lanes and paths on which cyclists ride.

Stats say bikes safe

Riding a bicycle in the city is relatively safe, according to statistics. In Tampere only some forty serious biking accidents occur in a whole year, well less than once a week. Of those spills a majority are caused by slippery conditions or drunkenness.

There are more cyclists in Finland now than ever, even while accidents are down.

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