Should cyclists have to wear helmets ?

In the past week we’ve had Bradley Wiggins come off  second best in a  Collision with an Astra Van   and the head coach of British Cycling suffer a bleed on the brain following a cycling collision on the A6 in nearby Levenshulme. Cycling accidents happen even to those who are trained to bob and weave at speed. I’m assuming that both were wearing helmets. I’d be surprised if they were not based on what Mr Wiggins has had to say in the past (see later) . 

Photo by Mostly Dans

You would be forgiven if you thought that we have always been a major cycling nation, both amateur wise and professional. However, it has only been in the past few years that we have seen a phenomenal increase in the amount of riders out on the road. 

The catalyst for the huge growth in the sport is undeniably down to the success of the Great British cycling team at the last two Olympics and Wiggins becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France, with fellow Englishman Mark Cavendish also increasing his impressive amount of stage victories in the meantime. We’ve even got Victoria Pendleton on Strictly come dancing .  

Seeing the increase in enthusiastic, beginner cyclists, both young and old, teetering around towns and cities made me think about the safety of the sport. 

It’s the age old dig at new hobbyists of ‘all the gear, no idea!’ however, I’ve noticed that a lot of the time these fresh, bike riding amateurs are missing what I feel would be the first piece of equipment you would purchase being a novice, a helmet. 

Since 2003, professional cyclists have had to wear helmets; this rule change was triggered after the high profile death of cyclist, Kivilev. With professional cyclists having to wear helmets in competitions then surely potentially, less experienced, amateur riders should also be wearing them when riding on public roads. 

There are many countries that have already made it the law to wear a helmet including Australia, New Zealand and many states in the USA. 

However, studies have suggested that these countries have not seen a great decrease in cycling injuries and the cons of this law could outweigh the pros.  One of the opposing arguments to the law being introduced is that the wearing of the helmet leads to false confidence and an indestructible attitude, which can then lead to more accidents. 

Another theory is that it attracts people who are not very confident or competent riders to try out the sport as they believe that the helmets make the sport injury-free. Whether you are wearing a helmet or not, cycling is a very dangerous sport. 

Bradley Wiggins was recently on the receiving end of the brunt of the argument against the introduction of the helmet law. After his time trial win at the Olympics, he was asked about the death of a public cyclist near to the event, Wiggins stated that he felt cyclists should wear helmets as they are then more protected. 

These comments threw the debate up into the air. With Wiggins later reiterating his statement saying that he meant the wearing of helmets would give cyclists more legal cover if a road accident occurs. 

Other opposing arguments to the law being introduced are that it would put more people off starting the sport. This could then lead to a rise in obesity and the roads being made more dangerous for cyclists as there is no longer safety in numbers 

A law compelling people to wear helmets would be hard to enforce ;  I couldn’t see the Police chasing cyclists ( they’re too nippy )  and the lack of number plates make camera detection tricky .  Mind the opportunity to feel the collar of    ” plebgate ” cyclist Andrew Mitchell who is regularly photographed without a helmet may have been a sweet conviction for the Police.

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