The AA Charitable Trust will give away 5,000 sets of free helmets and high-visibility vests to London commuters tomorrow (Friday April 15).
The distinctive yellow helmets, made by Raleigh, meet the relevant European safety standards and are fitted with a flashing LED light on the rear.
Distributed as part of AA Cycle Safety Day, the helmets and vests will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from two locations – Waterloo Place (SW1Y 4BN) from 7.30am and Lincoln’s Inn Fields (WC2A 3NA) from 1pm.
“The AA has always had an interest in cycling and safety,” said director of the AA Charitable Trust and AA president Edmund King.
“Many of our staff, including me, are enthusiastic cyclists and we are keen to do more to promote cycle safety.
“Pushbikes are part of the ‘two-wheeled’ strategy at the AA, following the reintroduction of motorbikes to tackle congestion and emissions in London. We have harnessed the manoeuvrability of two wheels where this means quicker service to members.
“We welcome the increase in cycling brought about by the Barclays cycle hire scheme but we want to ensure that more cyclists don’t lead to more casualties.
“The use of cycle helmets and vests by all cyclists could significantly reduce the number and severity of injuries that occur each year.
“Ninety seven per cent of AA members across the UK and in London think cyclists should wear helmets.”
The AA’s earliest patrols used bicycles to move around, warning motorists of speed traps ahead. The AA made widespread use of cycles from its foundation in 1905 till the early 1920s but they were still used in outlying rural areas until 1939.
The organisation’s cycle patrols now target breakdowns at major events, including Wimbledon and Glastonbury. They target flat batteries, wheel changes and minor electrical faults.
The AA’s new generation of Smith & Wesson bicycles – similar to those used by the police and St. John Ambulance – have been specially modified and fitted with state-of-the-art compact tool kits.
King added: “The AA is also looking to promote more cycle training across the UK as AA Populus figures show that less than one quarter of AA members who cycle have ever taken any cycle training.
“We hope that AA Cycle Safety Day will help cyclists and motorists, who are often the same people, to coexist in harmony on our roads.
“Eighteen per cent of AA members cycle on a regular basis but we expect to see this number increase as fuel prices continue to escalate.”