GEM Motoring Assist is one of the sponsors of the latest cycle helmet campaign by the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust.
GEM chief executive David Williams said:"During the next few weeks teacher packs including notes and DVDs will be sent to every school in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These packs provide information and guidance to allow teachers to create stimulating and interesting lessons on why all young cyclists should always wear a helmet."
Williams wants more than just carrots, he is in favour of sticks, too. GEM Motoring Assist wants cyclists to be forced to wear helmets.
"There needs to be clear guidance from Government in the form of legislation making it compulsory for all cyclists under the age of 14 to wear an approved safety helmet," Williams wrote on the company blog.
Despite the fact many times more children suffer head injuries in cars, in playgrounds and at home, Williams does not advocate compulsory helmet wearing for all children at all times, just when they ride bikes.
GEM Motoring Assist is perhaps not the best organisation to lecture on cycle safety. GEM has a leaflet, available on its website as a PDF, which shows the organisation knows precious little about genuine safety. ‘A guide to safer cycling’ shows a family in hi-viz vests, all wearing helmets. The girl in the front of the group is riding a bike with an unworkable front brake.
This leaflet has been wheeled out by GEM for a number of years, and always with the dangerous front brake picture.
Members of GEM are supposed to "undertake to drive with care, courtesy and concentration" and the organisation is supposed to stand for "safety for all road users" but the current edition of the organisation’s members’ magazine shows both of these statements to be wide of the mark.
The Spring 2011 edition of ‘Good Motoring’ features an anti-cyclist column by Jane King who doesn’t appear to know that ‘road tax’ was abolished in 1937 and that all UK tax-payers pay for roads, not just motorists.
She wrote: "Harsh weather conditions…serve to highlight exactly how little understanding most of us have of our driving space…You’d think that cyclists, being at one with the elements, would be able to deal sensibly with [passing motorists]. Unfortunately, certainly of late, this group seems to consist of real and exacting enthusiasts who behave as if every training trip is a stage of the Tour de France. And, as such they have a narrow blinkered vision of how the road should be used at that moment – which is purely for them. The motor vehicle must, and will, take at least second place. Sorry – who pays road tax, exactly?"
King also called cyclists "itinerant road users" and was less than charitable about horse-riders. She complains about having to slow down and wait behind equestrians and then, when a rider falls from a horse to the ground in front of her windscreen, King says "There is a god after all."
Earlier today, Eurosport TV commentator David Harmon – a GEM member – tweeted his displeasure at GEM’s less than rosy view of cycling and horse-riding: "Arrogance I can tolerate, ignorance I can’t."
According to the Highway Code, when over-taking, a motorist has to give as much room to horses and cyclists as they would give to a car they wished to pass. ‘Good Motoring’ editors ought to read the Highway Code at some point and educate themselves on the history of ‘road tax’, which was abolished in 1937.
UPDATE: GEM Motoring Assist CEO David Williams has responded to the ‘road tax’ gibe in his organisation’s magazine:
"I can only apologise and agree with you that Jane King’s article was ill-informed and at total odds with the aims and objectives of GEM Motoring Assist.
"Regrettably due to an error on our part the article was not checked nor edited in our normal way. Again I can only apologise for this error and assure you that Road Safety for all road users remains our prime aim and we continue to promote a courteous and considerate approach for all those sharing our roads. Jane King has been advised that her contributions to Good Motoring Magazine will not be required in the future."