Working in the cycle trade for some years now, it seemed the idea of wearing a cycle helmet was just common sense? Although, I myself am guilty of occasionally jumping on the bike without a helmet for the short ride to work. Or am I guilty? After reading many articles over the weekend I have found that a vast amount of cyclists, organizations and even doctors are against the compulsory cycle helmet law.
There is no doubt that the argument is aimed mainly at the general commuter, as opposed to the more serious racing, off road or BMX rider, where the benefits of wearing a helmet are quite clear due to the higher risk of injury.
But if people are against the law, are they simply against wearing a cycle helmet?
I always assumed that having the opportunity for additional safety, especially on the road, is a good thing, right? I was surprised to hear so many people disagree.
Facts and statistics
Many reports show a huge decrease in cyclists in certain areas where the law for cycling helmets has become mandatory. Some reports even show that car drivers approach cyclists with helmets with less care and attention. Equally, the helmet can give the cyclist much more confidence, or some might say a false sense of security.
The statistics showing the drop in cyclists when law enforcement of compulsory cycle helmets begins is significant, giving a large amount of support from health experts against the law. They believe the amount of cyclists that would suddenly stop riding would increase the amount of unhealthy citizens. This in turn also creates more traffic and therefore more pollution.
On the other hand we have the vast amount of reports supporting cycle helmet use and you just cannot deny the fact that a helmet can add precious protection to your head when on the road. Statistics show that when a helmet is worn in cycling accidents head injuries can be prevented by up to 88%.
Points that I have come across For and Against the Compulsory Bicycle Helmet Law.
Fewer head injuries/fatalities.
Some insurance companies will pay out more for an accident, when a cycle helmet is worn.
Less people cycling.
More cars on the road.
More accidents due to more pedestrians (there are statistically more pedestrian accidents than cyclists)
False sense of security.
Studies show drivers pay more care and attention to cyclists without helmets.
With the strong studies against compulsory cycle helmets, it is hard to be in favour of the law. But with so many conflicting studies, and the general consensus of a helmet being the safe option, what would be the correct answer?
Interesting studies and reports: