Dennis the Menace backs safe cycling for kids through free resources

Beano cycle_poster_Feb1321 February 2013

Brake, the road safety charity
t: 01484 559909 e: news@brake.org.uk 

Schools are being urged to promote safe cycling for children with the help of a familiar face. Dennis the Menace is encouraging kids to use their heads and wear helmets while cycling in a free poster for schools produced by the Beano in partnership with Brake, the road safety charity. Dennis and Gnasher also feature in a downloadable board game that gets kids thinking about simple steps to help them get home safely.

Teachers and community groups can order FREE copies of the poster from Brake's online shop thanks to sponsorship from personal injury solicitors Bolt Burdon Kemp. The game, which featured in a recent edition of the Beano, and the poster are also available to download from Brake's shop for free.

Schools are encouraged to use the poster as part of lessons or activities that teach children about the dangers of traffic and importance of road safety, and as part of campaigning for safer roads for children in the community. Schools can run lessons and activities on safe cycling, and campaign for safer roads for children on foot and bike, as part of UK-wide Brake initiatives they can register for now:

  • Giant Walking Bus on 12 June 2013, where children march for road safety from their school gates. Participating schools get a bumper back of resources, including the Beano poster;
  • Bright Days, where children dress in their brightest clothes to highlight the need for drivers to look out for pedestrians and cyclists, and raise funds for Brake;
  • Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), the UK's flagship road safety event, involving thousands of schools teaching and campaigning for road safety.

Brake's Cycle for Life campaign, sponsored by Bolt Burdon Kemp, calls on government and local authorities to make roads safer for cyclists of all ages by implementing safe cycling paths and widespread 20mph limits in communities. It also calls on drivers to slow down and look out for cyclists, and give them plenty of space.

A survey released last year by Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp revealed widespread fears among parents about letting children cycle, and support for more safe cycling measures:

  • more than half (52%) say they won't allow their child to cycle unsupervised once they reach age 12 because of traffic danger.
  • three quarters (76%) say their family would cycle together or do so more if local roads were made safer through 20mph limits and cycle paths [1].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: "Brake is delighted the Beano and Bolt Burdon Kemp are helping us to spread vitally important safe cycling messages via schools and communities. We hope these resources will help schools engage children in life-saving lessons, especially about the importance of helmet-wearing. But crucially, we also hope this will encourage schools and groups to take wider action to make their area safer for children to walk and cycle. The sad fact is many children don't get out and about nearly as much as Dennis the Menace because of traffic danger. We believe kids should be able to walk and cycle without being threatened by traffic. That's why we urge schools to not only order these great resources, but sign up to take part in Brake's events and campaigns this year to help get the message out: protecting kids on foot and bike should be a number one priority."

Mike Stirling, Editor-in-Chief of The Beano says: "Dennis the Menace is an extremely active menace – just ask the folks of Beanotown! He's the perfect example of a kid who gets out and about making the most of the great outdoors. Cycling is a great way for him to use up some of his incredible energy. He's super-smart too, so he knows it makes sense to wear a helmet and take time out to make sure he's safe when he's out and about. Dennis sees it as yet another tool in his menacing kit bag; not only does it protect his head from any bumps, it also makes sure his world famous spiky hair is kept safe from anyone daring to aim a catapult at him. We always did say he's a bit of a tough nut!"

Cheryl Abrahams, partner and personal injury expert at Bolt Burdon Kemp who specialises in handling cycling and other road traffic claims, says: "It's great to see so many children expressing an enthusiasm for getting on their bikes, and this highlights how important it is that cycling safety continues to be both a community and government priority. Organisations such as Brake are playing a key role in raising awareness not just among cyclists, but among all road users, of the importance of safety for cyclists. Recently announced investment opportunities for improving cities' cycling infrastructure are a welcome sign that safety campaigning is gaining the momentum needed to allow children to feel safe and confident on the road. We are delighted to be working with Brake towards achieving this commitment."

Pedestrian and cyclist casualties

Every day in the UK, 19 adults and seven children are killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike.

In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries went up significantly, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12%, while serious injuries increased by 5%. 466 people were killed on foot in 2011 and 5,654 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 31% (1,901) were children: 50 child pedestrians were killed in 2011 and 1,851 suffered serious injuries.

While cyclist deaths decreased by 2% in 2011, serious injuries increased by 16%. 109 cyclists were killed in 2011 and 3,132 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 16% (511) were children: 10 child cyclists were killed and 501 suffered serious injuries [2].

Notes for editors

[1] A survey of 1,041 adults with children under the age of 16 carried out by Redshift Research in March 2012 on behalf of Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp.
[2] Adult figures are from Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2011, and Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland annual report 2011, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2012. Figures for children were requested by Brake from the Department for Transport and Police Service for Northern Ireland and are for children aged 0 – 17.

About Brake:

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 66 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term 'accident' undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by drivers taking risks on roads.

About Bolt Burdon Kemp:

Bolt Burdon Kemp is a niche compensation firm of solicitors that has been representing injured people since 1986. It is recognised as one of the top personal injury law firms in the Country and has a specialist team of solicitors that represent cyclists injured in road collisions. The firm is based in Islington, North London but offers a national service.