Insane Comic Books Warn Phoenix Children That Biking Will Kill Them

This comic book was produced by the Phoenix Street Transportation Department to warn young children about the dangers of not wearing a helmet. Retrieved from the Arizona Republic
This comic book was produced by the Phoenix Street Transportation Department to warn young children about the dangers of not wearing a helmet. Via The Arizona Republic

Hey kids, the Phoenix Department of Street Transportation has a fun message for you: Riding your bike is likely to result in a gory horror scene. If you don’t wear your helmet, of course.

This is the cover of a comic book being distributed to third and fourth graders in Phoenix.
This is the cover of a comic book being distributed to third and fourth graders in Phoenix.

That’s the gist of an over-the-top “bike safety” comic book that has alarmed parents of third and fourth graders in Phoenix. The comic shows a cyclist with his brain exposed and blood dripping down his skull on the cover. The inside is equally horrifying, conjuring a world where kids get run over and lose the use of their legs because they pop wheelies.

The books were produced by the Phoenix Street Transportation Department with a $18,700 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. An illustrator hired by the transportation department explained to the Arizona Republic that they were meant to scare children into wearing helmets.

Helmets can protect against head injuries in the event of a crash or fall, but the idea that helmet use is the one true answer for bike safety is cartoonishly simple.

Gory comic books about bike helmets are not the kind of thing you see in places with excellent bike safety records. It is basically an admission that public agencies have failed to create safe streets and an indictment of the prevailing safety culture.

At a time when kids are developing chronic disease at an alarming rate thanks in part to the lack of physical activity, Phoenix is sending the message that something as normal as riding a bike will cause you to resemble an extra from the Walking Dead.

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  • Jonathan Krall

    Don’t know about helmets, but helmet legislation certainly doesn’t affect head injuries.
    “Helmet legislation was not associated with hospitalisation rates for brain, head, scalp, skull, face or neck injuries.”
    http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/11/e008052.full.pdf+html

  • I’m more than familiar with the studies on the fact. Quite frankly, the primary reason I wear a helmet while riding a bike is so that if there is a crash, people don’t shrug and say “should have been wearing a helmet”. That being said, it doesn’t even matter in this case. Helmets could perfectly protect against concussions, and ameliorate most other types of head injuries and this comic would still be a ridiculous exaggeration. If this is what people think, no wonder the average driver believes that wearing a helmet will save you from every type of injury in a car crash.

  • gneiss

    Head injuries from motor vehicle collisions in 2006: 280,000 http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/brain-injury/motor-vehicle-accident.html

  • Frank Krygowski

    Robert Hurst’s opinion isn’t worth the electrons wasted to share it. He
    sensationalizes in order to sell his badly written books.

    And the AANS data is purposely distorted. First, it counts “head injuries,” which typically include any scratch above the neck, hoping to conflate them with brain injuries. (Thompson & Rivara, in their 1989 helmet promotion paper, deliberately counted scratched ears as “head injuries” for fear mongering effect.)

    Furthermore, it’s dishonest to compare total injury counts between the “sport” of bicycling and various team sports. Bicycling’s participation count is immensely higher, precisely because bicycling is much more than a “sport.” It’s play, it’s travel, it’s transportation, it’s gentle exercise, and probably 99% of bicycle use has nothing to do with “sport” or competition. And on a per-participant basis, cycling is not unusually dangerous at all.

    (BTW, John Pucher of Rutgers has data estimating that U.S. bicycling has only one third the fatality rate of pedestrian travel, per km traveled. Should we count pedestrian travel as a “sport” because there will be a very few race walkers at this year’s Olympics?)

    All relevant studies have found that the benefits of cycling greatly exceed its tiny risks. Bicycling is NOT very dangerous; it does us no good to pretend it is.

    For some comparative data, see
    http://ohiobike.org/images/pdfs/CyclingIsSafeTLK.pdf

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