Cycle helmet safety campaign with scantily clad models sparks storm

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German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, 11 March 2019Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer says the campaign saves lives

A model lies suggestively on a bed wearing little more than knickers - and a cycle helmet.

It is an attempt by the German transport ministry to get younger cyclists to embrace head protection.

But the video - what the Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer thinks is a hip way of getting the message across - has run into protest.

"Embarrassing, stupid and sexist," said a senior female politician, two days before the campaign launch.

The campaign uses an English slogan, acknowledging that a cycle helmet may be unflattering "but saves my life". Aside from the video, street posters are due to go up throughout Germany from Tuesday.

The campaign features Alicija, a hopeful in Germany's Next Top Model, as well as a range of male models.

But Maria Noichl, who chairs the women's committee of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was scathing in comments to Bild newspaper: "Embarrassing, stupid and sexist when the transport minister markets his policy with naked flesh."

And the Minister for the Family Franziska Giffey, also a Social Democrat, posted a picture of herself on Facebook with the comment: "With helmet and clothed".


Posted by Franziska Giffey on Friday, March 22, 2019
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Mr Scheuer, whose conservative CSU governs in coalition with the Social Democrats and Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU, appears unfazed.

Image source, Runtervomgas/BMVI

His ministry defended the approach, pointing out on Twitter that the target group is young men and women who spurn helmets on aesthetic grounds. The video has been viewed by 1.78 million people aged between 14 and 49, the ministry says.

According to Germany's Road Safety Association (DVR), 430 cyclists were killed on Germany's streets last year - 14% more than in 2017. Only 8% of the target age group wear helmets, the DVR says.