Cycle helmets are not the answer

Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and a delegation of councillors will travel to Westminster on Monday to meet with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond.

They will be calling for changes in the law so that all cyclists must wear helmets and all bikes must be fitted with lights.

The delegation also wants all new bike sales to include helmets, reflective clothing and lights, and to ban BMX bikes on public roads as some do not have brakes or lights fitted and are only suitable for tracks.

via Deaths on Notts roads spark MP’s call for tighter cycling laws | This is Nottingham.

Every so often someone comes up with the idea that they have to protect us cyclists from ourselves.  This protection almost always takes the form of compulsory helmet wearing and banishment to the cycle path.

It’s not the solution.

Firstly, let’s make an important distinction about cycle helmets and “safety”.  Cycle helmets do not make cyclists safer.  Not one bit.  (In fact, there’s one study which suggests that they actually make us less safe because, for some reason, they make drivers think they can give us less room when passing).  However, I almost never go for a ride without my helmet on, because whilst it doesn’t throw up a forcefield to keep bad drivers away it will prevent or reduce damage to my brain box if something unfortunate should happen. I like my brain, it’s one of my favourite parts of my body.

Making us wear helmets all the time, or forcing us to stay within the poorly designed and maintained cycle paths, will do nothing to make us safer.  Better enforcement of existing laws and improved training for drivers would be more effective.  The return of Cycling Proficiency training in schools wouldn’t hurt either, but MPs and other wannabe safety campaigners have got to stop blaming the victims and start accepting that motorists cause most of the problems.


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