Apparently Boston is trying to encourage people to wear bike helmets by putting up terrifying ads. Boston Biker snapped a few shots:

Totally gruesome. Yes, people say they don’t wear helmets because helmets make you look like a geek. But it seems just teeny tiny bit aggressive for a public health campaign to argue that if you don’t wear a helmet, it’s more or less your fault when your face gets smashed in (and, insult to injury, that it will make you unattractive) — as if the injury came from prizing coolness over safety, and not from someone hitting you. Also, of course, the guy’s skull is fine and no helmet we know covers the side of your face, but hey!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Rather than encouraging helmet use, this campaign seems liable to scare people out of biking in the first place. As Boston Biker argues, “More cyclists seem to equal safer cyclists” and “most fatal crashes involve vehicles and cyclists.” But, no, let’s blame the preening bikers who just can’t be seen in a dorky helmet!

Boston Biker has a few much, much better ideas for a public ad campaigns. These include:

  • Targeting drivers: “Do you want to be responsible for the death of someone’s son? Check your mirrors for cyclists before turning.”
  • Featuring hot people: “Have hot people in nothing but helmets” with the slogan “You look better in a helmet.”
  • Invoking Jewish/Catholic/your-religion-here guilt: “Your mother worries, wear a helmet.”

We can come up with bunches more, just off the top of our heads.

  • Cute old people in helmets, asking “How’d you think we lived so long?”
  • Reclaiming the idea of “helmet hair” as a good thing by showing sexy people releasing their long luscious locks from underneath a helmet.
  • A car rear-ending a bike with the slogan “Do you really trust drivers?”
  • This vintage photo of 1948 bikers. Slogan: “At least your helmet does not look like it’s made out of sausages.”
  • A dog riding a bike: “This dog doesn’t need a helmet because he’s a dog. Are you a dog? No? OK then.”
  • Helmet, by Helmut Lang.

Point is, terrifying graphic pictures of bloody noses: counterproductive, and totally not necessary.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!