May 2024

Advertising policy

Adverts in Spokes Bulletin / Circulation of flyers / Promotion of events

Spokes will not normally take adverts/flyers, or otherwise assist in publicity…

  • for events where there is little choice but to get there by flying
  • for events where there is little choice but to get there by car
  • if the advert/flyer/publicity is ‘helmet dominated’ … in particular, adverts or flyers with pictures should normally have at least as many cyclists unhelmeted as helmeted.
  • for events where helmets are compulsory for any age category.  We may also decide not to promote events whose website is very helmet-dominated.


If an advertiser or event promoter feels they have a very strong case for an exception to the above, this will be discussed by Spokes Resources Group.   A requirement for helmet compulsion because of insurance will not normally qualify for an exception, since the choice of insurance is up to the event organisers.

Background and Further Info

The formal objectives of Spokes [approved overwhelmingly in a vote open to all members] are…

  • To promote cycling, as part of a sustainable transport and access strategy, and to ensure that councils and government actively do the same.
  • To publicise the benefits of cycling for the community and individuals – like walking, it is cheap, efficient, enjoyable, healthy, non-polluting and intrinsically safe.

We cannot normally take adverts or promote events which appear to conflict with these objectives.   In particular…

  • events which require flying or where most people have little choice but to travel to them by car  are not compatible with promoting sustainable transport.  There is a great deal of online advice on organising events in an environmentally responsible way.
  • helmet compulsion or heavy promotion have been found to reduce cycling levels, possibly because they make cycling appear an unusually dangerous activity.  For helmet background see our helmets evidence page and this news item.


  • We did not publicise the 2012 Edinburgh Skyride Local events, because they banned anyone up to age 18 from joining in if unhelmeted.  However we did a big splash for the main city Skyride which welcomes everybody and anybody to come along.
  • We have not publicised some charity events which for most people entailed driving with your bike to somewhere far from Edinburgh, and another event which involved flying with bikes to another country.   Of course, we have been delighted to take flyers or to list many other charity events, and occasions like the Big Tent Festival, which take sustainable transport seriously, as in our web page on event organisation.
  • Local charity ride organiser Allan Prentice, who runs several events including the Sestran Two Capitals Ride says in a Guardian newspaper articleThis time we are simply saying that if you are under 18, we’d prefer you to wear a helmet. If you’re an adult and you wish to make the choice that you don’t wear a helmet, that’s fine.”  To satisfy the terms of his liability insurance, people registering for his events will have to acknowledge they are responsible for their own safety when riding.

Similar policies

Please let us know of organisations with similar policies.   We will list some here…

  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign  Motion to 2012 meeting  Decision [voting 44-10 in favour]
  • Cyclists Touring Club  “CTC events do not insist upon helmets and our insurers have never raised this as an issue – so it’s not actually an issue of insurance if organisers go directly to a sensible insurer.”   The CTC’s Chris Peck says, “I’m pretty sure that this is a consequence of organisers simply doing a “copy and paste” job from other event organisers’ terms and conditions, rather than any sort of rigorous risk assessment.” [quotes from Guardian article].
  • Sustrans  “We certainly wouldn’t make helmets compulsory on our rides but wouldn’t discourage people from using them either.”  [quote from Guardian article].