Following the AA's helmet and high-visibility vest giveaway to cyclists in London, cycle campaigners staged a Highway Code giveaway to drivers.
Advocates feared the AA's distribution of cyclist safety gear risked misrepresenting the sources of road danger.
The giveaway by the motorist organisation was prompted by a poll of its members which overwhelmingly wanted to see cyclists wear protective equipment.
"The AA's gimmick merely gives the impression that cycle helmets are an essential safety aid, and that cyclists who don't wear them are to blame if they get hurt – neither of which is true, explained CTC campaigns and policy director Roger Geffen. "Cycle helmets aren't designed for fast or heavy traffic, and increased helmet use has never been linked with improvements in cyclists' safety. The one thing we know about helmet promotion is that it puts people off cycling, which in turn worsens not only congestion and pollution, but road safety as well.
"If the AA wants to improve safety for cyclists, it should work with groups like CTC to encourage all road users to follow the Highway Code. Yes, this includes cyclists too, but police data show that the risks cyclists face come overwhelmingly from dangerous driving."