February 23rd, 2011
Worldwide, cyclists are constantly being urged to wear helmets when they ride, but last year it was estimated that only 35% of riders wear one as often as possible, with 50% of riders occasionally wearing one, and the rest not bothering at all. In the UK leading cycling charities are warning that fatalities and road safety statistics are rising to worrying levels, so why are the majority of us still not persuaded to strap up and keep our head safe? Is there a stigma on helmets, are people just too lazy to put them on, or do they have disadvantages that outweigh the advantages? Although not yet compulsory here in the UK, the highway code states in its first rule of cycling safety that a ‘helmet which conforms to current regulations’ should be worn at all times, as well as various other safety equipment. But are we approaching the problem from the right direction? Is the problem that cyclists are not wearing helmets, or the fact that they are getting hit in the first place? You should take great care on busy roads and avoid riding at night if you can. High visibility, although not fashionable, is also a huge leap towards your safety, improving your presence to other road users. It has been widely suggested that there are downsides to compulsory helmet lwearing aws too. It is thought that compulsory helmet use would dramatically decrease the amount of people using their bikes for transport, which at a time of environmental concern, is simply not acceptable. There is also key evidence to suggest that countries with low levels have cycling struggle with diabetes and obesity more than those that have. Tim Edgar from the CTC, (The UK’s national cyclists’ organisation) commented on the issue and said: “We want to make cycling as safe as possible, just like the supporters of this bill. “But there’s robust evidence that making helmets compulsory puts people off cycling in the first place. “That would have a significant impact on the current levels of cycling which we’ve worked so hard to increase over the last few years.” There is also strong evidence to suggest that police would find it almost impossible to enforce compulsory helmet wearing, and as we know at the moment there is absolutely no room to spend money increasing patrols, or assigning police to hunt cyclists guilty of riding without protection. Ross McGill form the charity Sustrains explains efforts made in the US to make helmets compulsory fro cyclists: “I was a teenager living in upstate New York when cycle helmet legislation aimed at children was introduced,” he said. “No child I knew took any notice of the law. It was quite impossible for the police to enforce, even though there were more officers on patrol than you would see in Northern Ireland.” It is also believed, through various experiments, that cyclists wearing helmets can make other road users less cautious when approaching and passing them, and physiologically, having to wear a helmet can make a cyclist more prone to an accident as they’re placed in the wrong mind set. In conclusion it seems that although wearing a helmet can have some positive effects for cycling safety, there comes some huge risks with making them compulsory. We’d also love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so if you have some spare time leave a comment below. If you have been involved in a cycling accident and feel that you deserve compensation, why not contact Cycle Assist today and start your claim? Tel: 01625 506655 Or use our contact form. Thanks for reading.