Do You Always Wear A Helmet When Cycling (And Should You)?

I’ve been writing the Sportive Cyclist blog for nearly 5 years now, so I guess it’s time to hit the big red self destruct button.

It’s time to get political.

It’s time to enter The Great Helmet Debate*.

(* which is I think the name of the new BBC show commissioned after they lost the rights to GBBO…).

In essence, will wearing a helmet make me more aero (#moreAero)?

Oh wait, the other helmet debate. Should we be forced to wear helmets when riding a bike?

The A-Political Animal

This post was prompted by a tweet from Chris Boardman, who I once met in the entrance lobby to a WH Smiths in Birmingham. CB’s tweet was followed by an article that he wrote for the Sunday Times this past weekend.

The STimes has a paywall so luckily for me, but not so much for Chris, the article was not published. Mainly because it appears he sent it to the wrong email address:

Instead Boardman’s article was published on the British Cycling website.

Right… about… here.

Go read it. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Good. Onward Macduff.

Time For Me To Misjudge The Sportive Cyclist Audience…

When I read the article, it’s preaching to the converted.

It sort of fits with my life view. I don’t want to be forced either to wear a helmet or not to wear one. Any proposal to make the wearing of helmets mandatory goes against the evidence (and I does like me some evidence).

Whilst Boardman doesn’t link to the specific studies he cites, I’m confident they’re legitimate. I’m certainly aware of the Australian study around forced helmet used leading to reduction in cyclist numbers.

He talks about reduced cycling activity leading to more deaths in the population from silent killers. I think there are other studies that show that more cyclists on the road, resulting in higher visibility and greater awareness from other road users, makes the act of cycling itself more safe.

Whilst I focus on encouraging more cyclings at the ‘road’ end of the spectrum (er, you might have read my blog?), I am in favour of much more cycling taking place more generally. I want my kids to cycle safely.

Do Road Cyclists Care About The ‘Helmet And Hi Viz’ Debate?

As a road cyclist, wearing a helmet comes easily. Nowadays all our professional cycling heroes wear helmets as they go about their business. Images of Eddy Mercx or Greg Lemond (even Lancelot Armstrong) riding with bare heads belong to a bygone age.

Even hi-viz clothing can be sort of trendy in the road cycling world (he says, typing through gritted fingers). Neon colours for clothing tend to come into and out of fashion, but reflective panels and logos are found on most outer pieces of clothing.

Road cycling tends to be a distinct activity, a hobby or a passion, rather than the integration of a mode of transport into our normal day-to-day life. We generally don’t have a problem, therefore, in wearing a specific outfit to do it.

Road cycling, as a hobby, also has a tendency towards tribalism (I. AM. CYCLIST). There is perhaps a tacit acceptance of the ‘them and us’ mentality with other road users (even though the majority of us drive cars… often with bikes on the top).

Every tribe needs a uniform.

We put on our Batfink shields of lycra, a helmet that says, “I’m comfortable dicing with death”, and practise our ‘don’t you dare turn out of that side road in front of me’ tractor beam stare.

Who cares if the politicians force us to wear helmets? We do it anyway.

Whisper It … It’s Not All About The Road Bike…

I think this country will be better if more people ride bikes. Actually, scrub the ‘I think’ bit.

Not just road bikes. Any bikes. Hybrids. Mountain bikes. Trendy fixed gear courier bikes, ridden by leather apron wearing, mustachioed baristas.

Not recumbent bikes of course. We don’t need more of those. (Of course I jest…).

More bikes equals more safety. Better health. Less stress. Reduced pressure on the NHS. Lower emissions. For everyone. The lycra clad legion and, let’s face it, normal people.

To have more bikes on the road, and more ‘normal’ people riding them, we need to get across that it’s safe to do so. That protective safety gear, including head armour, is not a necessity.

I think road cyclists should make more effort to cycle like normal people from time to time. And really I’m talking (typing) to myself. I should make more effort to cycle with the kids, both on the road and off. To cycle when running errands (admittedly, living in the countryside, this will make errands a little more time consuming!). Wearing normal clothes. Using my judgement to determine whether a helmet is a necessity.

I’m going to try to do my (little) bit to promote the bike as a (beautiful) mode of transport for the many and not only a hobby for the few.

Sermon over. Amen.

What Do You Think?

Should helmet wearing by compulsory? Do you ride a bike outside of (#)roadcycling as a hobby/passion/penance? Should Sportive Cyclist quieten down and go back to reviewing carbon water bottle cages?

Let me know in the comments below.

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

46 thoughts on “Do You Always Wear A Helmet When Cycling (And Should You)?”

  1. No I don’t think it should be compulsory, we need to be allowed to make a choice. Saying that, I always wear one but when I lived in NL where the vast majority of cycling was done separated from the cars I didn’t. The risk of injury being lower if it’s only me falling off not been hit by a much larger, faster and heavier metal car.

    • Sorry disagree totally. As a road cyclist you are riding on public highways, hence like motorised bikers, road cyclists must be obligated to have some form of head protection, there is no argument to say we are a case apart so we should be part of road safety law. For me there is no debate on that point. More importantly in my view, questions should be raised about the real effectiveness/solidity of current helmets (despite differing design specifications), as compared to motor bike helmets – will thin plastic helmets really do the same job? I suspect not.

      • Interested in what your take on motorised three wheelers is, as a trike rider is as open to the dangers, but requires neither a seatbelt, or a helmet.

  2. I’ve read all the stuff I care to on this topic. I shall summarize.

    Wearing a helmet (or foam hat as some call it) is likely to protect you against not-too-severe injuries in a crash, but won’t likely do much except keep your shattered skull together in a really bad crash. It will help you in slow speed falls, but not a high speed “yard sale” (as we skiers call a high speed cartwheeling fall that flings your equipment around like, well, a yard sale).

    The helmet may also induce false bravado, especially if you don’t know about how frighteningly low a head-to-object contact speed can induce brain damage, helmet or no helmet.

    I wear my helmet knowing all this, and ride carefully. Not slowly, but with great care and attention. Ride carefully, wear a cool helmet, and leave a better looking corpse? Did I really type that? Sorry, folks.

  3. It should not be made compulsory, if you cannot mount your bike as a responsible, sane, adult or make that decision for your children, then you or they, shouldn’t be on it in the first place. But with a government who have just decided that animals have no feelings or feel pain, anything could happen.

    Helmets are intended as a bump hat and no more, it stops prats like me, when I forget to unclip, from doing damage when I bang my head. When you bump your head and see stars and feel giddy, you have had a very minor stroke. A girl I cycle with works in the hospital and she tells me about the amount of people going to A & E having bumped their heads and feeling ill from it, a minor stroke is what the blood test show. Too many of these cannot be good for you and that’s what these helmets are for, similare to hard hats on building sites or in factories, they won’t stop a steel girder from killing you, but a nut and bolt or spanner dropped from a height could hurt you and it this that they protect you from.

    • As I stated in my first post, I always wear a helmet while cycling for the risk reduction in provides, so we agree on that.

      My comment concerned the “false bravado” argument being unscientific. It isn’t. Scholarly papers have quantified its effect. That doesn’t mean you personally feel false bravado while riding wearing a helmet. Just realizing that a helmet provides little risk mitigation in higher impact crashes – which you clearly understand – may be enough for most cyclists to ride cautiously. Understanding the rather low protective limits of helmets is a good way to reduce false bravado.

  4. The argument usually goes: “Drivers should be more aware of cyclists, drive more carefully etc.”. This is all well and good until you do have an accident. I had a driver pull out of her road and drive straight into me. I was doing no more than jogging pace, but she was distracted. My bike was a write off, my leg has a permanent disfigurement, and my head put a hole in her windscreen. I was wearing a helmet, so when I’d finished on her windscreen and my head hit the road surface, I was just left with a jagged scar on my forehead where the edge of my helmet bit in. Without my helmet it would have been far worse, if not fatal. I would never ride without a helmet. You can ride as carefully as any pro, but there’s always the chance the unexpected can happen. I wouldn’t let my children ride without a helmet either, so I am imposing my own ‘law’ if you like. A change in the law would mean nothing to me. It’s like the seatbelt debate. driving carefully doesn’t mean everyone does. What about a deer bolting out from a wood? A bird? Both have almost taken me off! Doesn’t need to be a human.

  5. Of course there is always the problem of setting a precedent- should pedestrians have to wear helmets as they often suffer head injuries when hit by motor vehicles?

    Having lived and cycled in Oz and the UK, I did find myself not cycling to the shops and other short journeys in Melbourne because putting on a helmet/hi viz to avoid being penalized was a hassle and made a bike less the transport of choice.

    I agree with the others who’ve suggested that as a responsible adult you make your own choices- I’d rather legislate to reduce car/cycle interfaces (might sort out the guy in Stockwell this morning who decided to pull up in the entrance to the bike lane… not that I am bitter!)… like the blog by the way


  6. Yeah, pro choice, I am an outlier in that my helmet is overkill, an MET Parachute for the road because coming from motorbikes the cycle helmet felt insufficient, I wanted chin protection. My completely unsubstantiated belief is that looking weird helps safety in my London commute. But either way I don’t feel uncomfortable wearing it and I do feel safer, even if it’s just the extra light it allows me to attach to my head.

    When I’m out riding slow empty lanes with the family I’m as likely to have a cap on, the road warrior look would be too much but I don’t want to burn. My wife always wears a helmet, my adult daughter doesn’t even own one now. We each make our decision and as I say, I like it that way.

    • I entirely respect your choice, but my accident was on one of the quietest lanes in my area. The lady said she didn’t expect me to be there. The worst driving I have witnessed has been on lanes too, where F1 rules seem to apply, despite blind corners, horses, potholes etc. The amount of times I have to pull out to avoid a pot hole just when a line of cars comes… All the best.

  7. Good take on it, i agree 100% with Chris Boardman and although i always wear a helmet i will defend anybody who doesnt want to. If we are to have a healthier society then we need to reduce the underlying issue of motor vehicle supremacy that scares the non-roadie community from hopping on a bike dressed like a “normal” person. Us roadies will deal with whats thrown at us as you rightly point out. Helmets and hi-viz are a distraction beloved of the media and motor industry to distract people from the thousands of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by bad road infrastructre, dangerous driving and distracted driving.

  8. Hi , I think its alright if helmet wearing is compulsory. Its like safety belts in cars, wich are also compulsory.Should we let drivers decide freely? I had a bike accident, clavicle broken, and my helmet protected my head at its own life cost.
    So, Im for helmet compulsory.
    sorry for my broken english!

    • Hi Aurelio, I think it’s a mistake to compare safety belts in cars with bicycle helmets. In a car, you have a tonne of metal surrounding you, and in a high proportion of traffic accidents, any injuries to car passengers occur because of collisions they have WITH THE INTERIOR OF THE CAR. This is what makes seatbelts a safety device – they restrain the passenger/driver so they’re less likely to have an interior collision. Air bags help with this.

      But helmets for a cyclist only help to reduce the impact of the skull hitting the brain. They are neither large nor firm enough to absorb more than a small amount of energy in low speed crashes. Yes, they will help to reduce lacerations, and brain impacts at lower speeds. But once we roadies get going 30 kph, the risk of a headstrike velocity of 14 mph or greater is significant. That would “ring your bell” but good, and induce a brain injury. And mountain bikers, while they may have much lower average speeds, also ride in areas that are more dangerous than roads. I live near one of the world’s most glorious MTB preserves, the famous “Vancouver North Shore” with its dozens of hairy trails winding through a thick forest with large trees everywhere. The local hospital emergency room is taken up with cyclists in summer, skiers in winter. Often the same people wearing gear to match the season. Tree skiing is dangerous, too.

      Cheers, and safe riding.

  9. i”m not quite sure how anyone can equate wearing a helmet to making you over confident and/or reckless on your bike as I have seen stated in a number of articles in various “respected” publications. Surely common sense and a moderate understanding of the human body would prevent such muddled thinking. If thinking is indeed the word to describe it?

    The helmet offers some protection to some of your head, maybe 10% of your whole body. Falling off your bike, however it may be caused, exposes 100% of your body to impact related damage, minor if you’re lucky but potentially serious. There are body parts that have a tendency to stick out, get snagged in things, bend in directions they were not designed to and all of the resulting injuries will have potential impacts on your subsequent ability to do stuff; go to work, wash and dress yourself, ride your bike – and wearing a helmet won’t make a bit of difference either way. Thats what stops me being over confident and or reckless when riding my bike with my helmet on.

    So no need to make it compulsory, leave it to people’s intelligence to work out what they need and don’t need and let natural selection take over.

  10. Yes I always wear one. There is always a hard road, hard railings and hard cars nearby which will damage my brain. Why would anyone not wear one? Seriously? Is it a fashion statement or does one become more “hipster” or “edgy” by not wearing one?

    “It only covers 10% of your body, what about the other 90%?” Really? Seriously? Without this 10% functioning, the other 90% is useless jelly. I can have an OK life without an arm or a leg but not without a functioning brain.

    “Wearing a helmet makes cycling less of a transport choice.” Oh boy. What a statement. Wearing a seatbelt makes my car less of a transport choice. Honest. My helmet is always hanging off the handlebars. Really tough one to fit in the “getting on the bike” routine.

    I actually don’t respect someone’s choice not to wear one on sartorial or convenience (laziness) grounds (what other actual, real reasons could there be?) because their resulting head injury might cost the NHS a helluva lot more or expose a motorist to death charges rather than something lesser or – worse – deprive a family of a relative. All because you think you don’t look good in a helmet. Some people need saving from themselves which is why we have laws.

    I really cannot comprehend why anyone of normal intelligence and cognitive abilities would proactively choose not to wear one?

    And yes, theoretically, helmets should be compulsory. But then so should common sense before you’re allowed on a bike. But both are unenforceable so shouldn’t be law in practice. Non-wearers should, therefore, be left to select their method of exit from the human race.

    • Not wearing a helmet means I can commute to work on a bike in my business attire and get straight into meetings when I arrive. (I live somewhere cold so sweatiness isn’t an issue usually). If I were to wear a helmet it would mean I had to re-make my hair, which takes a long time and I can’t easily do at work (unfortunately having nice hair is expected of pretty much any woman in a business role in my company), which ultimately means I wouldn’t commute by bike at all, and the health benefits of me doing so statistically at least outweigh the risks of an accident, so I am willing to take them. I don’t cycle for fun, for me it is my method of commuting and I value my ability to do so in my normal clothes without inconvenience

  11. In the United States many areas require helmet use for children 12 years of age or under. I don’t know if or how these laws are enforced, and I am not in favor of mandatory helmet use.

  12. Good article and great to see the comments section alive and thriving.
    Nobody should be forced to wear a helmet IMHO.
    I almost always do, mind you – though didn’t on Eroica for aesthetic reasons… ha. What a revelation to feel unencumbered, liberated, wind in my hair, etc. I feel regretful that I’d be a neglectful parent if I didn’t make my kids wear helmets when cycling (it hasn’t put them off – it’s part of the “ritual” of us going out together) and thus depriving them of that experience… A big part of life is about the choices we make eh…

  13. Horses for courses. I don’t wear one in Summer or on a cycle ride with my 8 year old, or to pick up some milk/goto the pub. But I certainly do just now, its dark and often wet on my route home from work and I have a downhill section which whether you like it or not, you will go faster.

    Ignoring bikes, repeated trauma to the head is bad news, whether that’s in football, rugby, boxing, having a face that looks like it needs to be punched

    This ‘false bravado’ is bull. Young males will cycle like crazy men whatever they have on. Others less so.

    Always makes me laugh when people say there is no evidence that helmets save anyone and then come out with the ‘false bravado’ which of course definitely is COMPLETELY unscientific and cannot have any supporting evidence.

    • The “False bravado” argument is not completely unscientific.

      I started out with a different view – that wearing a helmet would materially improve cyclists’ chances of avoiding serious brain injuries. But reading papers linked in the old “alt.cycling” newsgroup and engaging in discussion with others there showed me that the evidence supporting helmets was thin and unconvincing.

      Evidence should be the issue. Not “I was wearing a helmet when I crashed and didn’t get brain damage, therefore, the helmet is the reason”. I, too, have had a crash in which my helmet was cracked, I got a god-awful headache and two broken ribs. I attributed my lack of lasting brain symptoms as due to the helmet, but learned there is an equal chance that this was a logical error – “post hoc ergo propter hoc” – meaning after, therefore because of. Seems logical until you read the studies. Then you find out that a headstrike velocity of greater than 14 mph likely to produce a brain injury to a helmeted rider. Headstrike velocities above that are even more likely, with the likelihood of brain injury increasing with speed.

      The risk compensation argument is also supported by evidence.

      I’m not interested enough to dredge the studies out for you, but if you look around you’ll find them. Here’s a start.

      Go from there.

      Feel free to express your own opinions, but if you want them to be taken seriously, back up “Completely unscientific” with studies supporting that conclusion, and be prepared to say what’s wrong with studies supporting the opposite view. Otherwise, you’ll be “completely unscientific”.

      • Well, I’m glad I wore a helmet and am convinced it helped me avoid greater damage to my head. You can be killed in very low speed collisions if you hit your head on the ground, not very hard but in the wrong place. ANY reduction in this risk must be worth while? Even a 1% greater chance of survival is worth while. Each to their own I guess.

  14. Wear a helmet or don’t. Make your own choice based on whatever factors you like. Leave other people to make their own minds up.

  15. I am able to write these comments due to the simple fact I was wearing a cycle helmet earlier this year when I was hit by a double decker bus and knocked off of my bike. I distinctly remember thinking I was going to be killed. When my head bounced off of the road the first time I thought I would break my neck, when it bounced a second time I thought I would have a fractured skull. The reality is whilst I broke other bones and went into shock, thanks to my cycle helmet I never even had a headache! Earlier this year I contemplated stopping wearing my helmet, but thankfully I didn’t. The collision was not my fault, I was hit unexpectedly from behind. I now shudder when I see cyclists not wearing a helmet, they may be the safest riders on the road, but the unexpected can happen and it can kill you. Best £70 I have ever spent. Hopefully most cyclists will never go what I went through, but I am alive thanks to my helmet.

  16. I always slightly despair of this debate. I suspect the people who are resolutely opposed to helmet wearing and make spurious cases to downplay the safety benefit have either never had a serious head injury themselves or have never had the misfortune to spend time in a neurological rehabilitation centre full of victims of head trauma and other brain injury. I have. On the wall there is a sign that says “you’re hit by a car at 30 mph and hit your head on the road, would you (a) like to cushion the blow, or (b) not like to cushion the blow”. It’s a pretty simple choice, it’s not guaranteed protection but it might just make the difference between walking away from a collision with a few cuts and bruises, and drinking through a straw for the rest of your life while your friends and family lament what a pity it was that you wanted the wind in your hair rather than to protect yourself. Wear a helmet people, it’s not just you it affects. Trust me, I’ve seen enough mothers feeding their adult sons puréed fruit on a spoon to know that it’s just not worth it, and guess what they all thought it wouldn’t happen to them.

  17. My kids don’t hop in a car without putting on a seat belt. won’t hop in a boat without a life jacket nor hop on a bike without a helmet. All those things have been legally required for so long that they see them as a normal part of life. If ever they question these I invite them to have a conversation with my Father. Dad spent many years as a Chaplain in one of our major hospitals. On a weekly basis he would tell us about this young person or that child who had suffered head injuries, the extent of which could have been reduced by wearing a helmet. Perhaps the most poignant was a young lad who had been out riding with his helmet on. He came home, took the helmet off then hopped back on his bike to ride across the yard to put the bike away. As he stopped at the shed he fell, hitting his head on the a trailer. So he was almost stationary, his head only traveled a few feet before hitting the trailer and now years later he has still not recovered from the acquired brain injury. Do I wear a helmet Yes, do my kids wear helmets Yes, do I think it should be legalized, Yes, because some of us are not smart enough, and others lack the life experience to make a wise decision. Let’s stop the “if only” statements in our trauma wards

  18. Well it’s a complicated issue. I agree with you, Monty, that it would be good to get more people cycling, and very likely a mandatory helmet law discourages some of them. But it’s not a zero-sum game: a mandatory helmet law should in no way preclude the development of safer cycling infrastructure. Nor is it in all-or-nothing thing: for example, helmets could be made mandatory on public roads but not on cycling paths. I even find the statistics difficult to interpret: there’s no doubt that helmets provide some small degree of protection, even if totally insufficient in high-speed collisions, so one wonders about the base rate in cases where the introduction of mandatory laws has not resulted in fewer head injuries — there are lots of possibilities (people not wearing helmets even though they’re mandatory; people not cycling because they don’t want to wear helmets; people getting injured but less seriously; etc.) Because there so many open parameters, you’ll get lots of opinions, and they’re all correct in some way or another. But it doesn’t necessarily get us any closer to a good solution, other than that we’re talking about the issue. Personally, I wear a helmet every time I cycle, and am not opposed to a mandatory helmet law simply because although I respect everyone’s right to make their own choices, I don’t like having to help pay for their medical care in the event that their choice was the wrong one. For that reason I wish that we’d make progress on the issue rather than endlessly arguing about it. But then I have lots of wishes. Nice article, Monty. Bring on the controversy! :)

  19. I live in Seattle where we have a mandatory helmet law. I have worn helmets for years and it doesn’t feel like like my rights are being violated. It is harm reduction, like seat belts, air bags and methadone. While I l have a right to end my life, I don’t have a right to expect you to pay for it. My friend Dave says “If you are not wearing a helmet, you have nothing to protect.”

  20. 2 weeks ago I went out for a quick ride. I came to in the hospital five and a half hours later having fallen off the bike on corner (I can only tell this from my Strava feed). I have no memory of the ride or how I got home. I suffered a severe concussion, general road rash to most of the left side of my body and a fractured sacrum. If I was not wearing my helmet I would have died. It is not worth the risk IMHO.

  21. I use one on long, group or organized rides but on my short commute when it’s below freezing I usually don’t. Maybe I should, I don’t make any claims either way. I do know that with my Froome style of riding my vision is hindered by my helmet and on night rides it makes my sleepier! You can find pros and cons and I think people should be able to make there own choice. By the way if anyone wants one I have about five extra helmets from forgetting to bring one to a rides and having to buy another. LOL

  22. We all have our own personal bank of experience on which to base an opinion. The CB piece and your follow up provide the balanced view and most of the comments here show that the populous is split…. hmm that rings a bell. Shall we have a referendum? So my 10 penneth, or whatever that is in Euros.

    I now live in Sweden. Cold dark winters, warm light summers and a very high percentage of cyclists across the population. Helmets must be worn by kids up to 15 years of age, after which its up to them. Infrastructure is excellent, with bike paths and even our own traffic lights in urban areas, but I’d reckon only about 50% of commuters I see wear a ‘skidlid’. All cyclists on club road rides and mtb trail rides wear helmets without exception, road groups of no more than 15 with a 500m group spacing in traffic.

    Conversely, last year I completed 4 years service in Kazakhstan. Now if you want to experience a dangerous place to cycle….. give it a try. Our bike groups rode mainly off road on the Steppe or frozen rivers. Helmets and High Viz all day every day, no exceptions.

    In the UK with very limited infrastructure and a very dense population (and Im not just referring to the drivers of certain German brands of vehicles…) its a no brainer… everyone should wear a helmet! I completely agree that a legal requirement may discourage some, so perhaps a well funded/consistant campaign to persuade rather than enforce is the first step, but at the end of the day a legally required Hardhat would soon get acceptance….as it did with Motorbike helmets and Seatbelts…and smoking in post offices…and pubs….. – I refuse to wear one on Zwift though!

    • ‘no brainer’ unfortunate phrasing :().

      Im not sure it is either, I cycle through the centre of London every day and I feel safer than I do on a country lane. The speeds are really slow and generally they are all going in the same direction, i.e. you are not riding towards cars coming the other way (very closely). Of course that’s not 100% of everywhere in London but its mainly the case a lot of roads are 1 way or multi lane.. Theres also lots of other bikes now which helps people not be so surprised that everyone else is not driving a Volvo v40

      For me, when its light and dry I don’t wear a helmet. From October to March I do, its dark, its often wet and im less visible as is everyone else. Its a personal choice. For sure if I was in Kazakstan I might, but id not decide for everyone else what is best

  23. I wouldn’t be too hasty in assuming compulsory helmet use is an accepted part of motocycling, it’s a minority that believe it shouldn’t be mandatory but it exists and I know people who still ride the wilds just to be able to lose the lid and feel the wind in the hair.
    One of my biggest confused points with cycling was realising I was doing speeds in lycra that I would be happier wearing leathers for had I been on a motorbike.

  24. Having read all the comments thus far I`m asking what standards are cycling helmets built to meet . In my motorcycling days my “crash helmet” was certified as meeting various standards of impact and other relevant tests. Does the same hold true for cycling helmets… or is the cost difference between helmets more designer label related….Bell used to advertise the MBike ones with the logo “if youve got a ten dollar head buy a ten dollar helmet otherwise buy a Bell” as their helmets met or exceeded the tests of the day.

    • I sold a friend at work my Arai motorbike helmet when I decided not to get a bike. Cost me £350 and was race quality. The difference between a motorbike lid and a cycle helmet is dramatic. The speed differences they need to cope with sometimes aren’t. He had this helmet for two weeks before being taken off at about 30mph by a truck. His head hit the kerb. He was knocked out and the lid was split in two – a kevlar helmet with very thick padding – but he survived with no lasting damage. If I really want to scare myself I wonder what condition my cycle helmet would be in under similar conditions. I will always wear it, it was the toughest one I could get. Some protection is always better than none.

      • I think cycling at 30mph where there are trucks is suicidal, helmet or not. It probably saved him from life changing injuries but you have to question the speed. I’d not do more than 12-15mph in areas with a high variety of traffic. I’ve done 42mph down a hill when it was a closed road and it scared me.

        I always try and balance the closing speed of traffic coming from behind me to the stuff that could pull out or is coming towards me. Too slow is dangerous as well.

        • Sorry, I didn’t word it properly. He was riding a motorbike at 30. The helmet worked, but was built for the job. I certainly couldn’t get up to 30 on my Bianchi without a good gradient to help me! What I meant was the difference between the quality of the motorbike helmet and the best Cycle helmets really is worrying. If there was a law to make everyone wear a helmet, I’d like to think they might start to look at how strong and effective helmets are and drive forward improvements.

          • Ahh I see, makes more sense. You have to balance the extra protection with the extra weight and centre of gravity shift, less visibility potentially plus the heat you generate on a bicycle is not comparable with sitting on a bike and twisting your wrist. I agree the conversation should be make them super strong and fit for for purpose rather than just plonking any old thing on your head.

            Funny thing is if its a bicycle we all think 30mph is crazy, on a motorbike we say, sensible riding. There is a reason why Doctors call motorcyclists ‘donors’

  25. I know for a fact that they are safer, but I really don’t think they are really nessasary, I trust myself on a bike without a helmet, I trust in my ability to ride my bike, and know the rules of the road, that should be the end of it.

  26. Not going to comment on the ‘great debate’ (I.e. Whether we should or shouldn’t be required to wear a helmet), but do wonder about Chris Boardman’s analysis of the research. Correlation doesn’t equal causation. So while I don’t doubt the figures that show that the UK with relatively high helmet wear has a higher KSI rate than much of the rest of Europe (with lower helmet wear), I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from this about the effectiveness or otherwise of wearing a helmet. It could be if no cyclists in the UK wore helmets that our KSI rates would be even higher, or if more helmets were worn in Europe their KSI rates would be even lower. The argument about compulsion reducing cycling activity is much stronger, but even in this case, I wonder if in Perth, after the initial drop, cycling rates improved over time as people get used to taking a helmet? Perhaps not, but it would be interesting to see a long term study.

  27. The science proves without a shadow of a dout that helmets oprevent injuries and the severity of others. Apart from anything else. Boarman hates helmets for personal reason but he is wrong.
    He is wrong as he is not a neurologist and a neursuregon. As in he knows nothing of the make up of the brain and its ability to take stress through accidents.
    I know about traumatic brain injury I have had them and live with the results. I was drugged and mugged so a helmet did not come into the situation.
    Most cyclist accidents are single bike accidents. So forget cars or even other cyclists. It is the cyclist hitting something or falling off.
    The old evidence from Ian Waker has been rebutted by eperts in the foeld it is seen a s joke now. An the anti helmet mob in Austraia spread utter lies and have been caught out on air lots of times. The Journal that they get published in they own and a lot of experts in the foeld no longer publish with that company, hundreds of people quit. Thr Professors and Doctors that write the papers have not got degrees in the sublect at all but just hate helmets
    Why do I say what I have said, simple, I do not wat anybody to go through the pain, anguish and loss that I have since my injuries. I could not take precautions, you can so please do.
    If you dont believe e, go to your local rehabilitation clinic and ask the experts there.


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