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Cycle Helmet Debate

Cycle Helmet Debate

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The question of whether cycle helmets should be made compulsory is a divisive subject. One side of the argument is that in the interest of safety it should be mandatory for cyclists to wear the protective headgear. Some hold a different view and highlight the potential pitfalls if helmets became compulsory. The safety argument is really quite a simple one. Better to have a helmet hit the ground first, rather than your head. Various studies have been undertaken to highlight this fact, with one group of researchers in Sydney finding that cyclists who crashed without helmets were five times more likely to sustain severe head injuries than those wearing a helmet. Firmly in the pro-helmet camp is former Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell, who argues that wearing a helmet saved his life. Cracknell, who was seriously injured in an accident involving a fuel truck, took to Youtube to get his messages across. The video itself is extremely emotive and details the catastrophic injuries he suffered, whilst also looking at the effects they had on him and his family. Moreover, he details the fact that the truck was travelling at around 70mph when it hit the back of his head, demonstrating a helmet’s potential effectiveness at high velocity. The British Medical Association have also adopted a pro-helmet stance in 2004, reversing its initial view made 5 years earlier. Dr Paul Darragh, Chairman of the BMA’s Council in Northern Ireland stated that cycle helmets “have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury and its severity should it occur in non-fatal collisions.” Other studies also support the campaign for legislation. In 2009, an extensive investigation in the USA found that helmets did in fact make a big difference. It showed that the risk of head and brain injury reduced by between 63 and 88 per cent for all cyclists wearing helmets. Meanwhile in New Zealand, where wearing a helmet is compulsory, research undertaken in 2000 estimated that the legislation had averted a total of 139 head injuries over 3 years. This equated to a reduction of 19 per cent. The pro-helmet wearing lobby seem to have a strong argument but many don’t agree. They offer a number of reasons why...

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Education, education, education

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The tragic case of Sam Harding, who was run over and killed after being hit by a motorist opening their car door has raised much anger about the ‘weakness’ of current law. Since the motorist was cleared of the manslaughter, campaigners have pushed for a tightening of laws relating to cyclists.

There are clearly gaps in the law that need addressing, but perhaps it’s not that straight forward. From a moral (not legal) point of view, there appears to be a fairly grey area: If a motorist is to be convicted of carelessness, then surely the motorist must be expected to know what constitutes an appropriate level of care and attention?

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Passing stationary traffic

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It’s difficult to imagine that many cyclists would always be content to wait behind a queue of stationary traffic, so I can only assume that most cyclists face the same quandary that I do when approaching a queue of static/slow moving vehicles: to pass on the left or the right? On the left where a cyclist would normally be, or on the right where drivers most expect to be passed?

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Compulsory helmets? Legalised drugs?

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Yesterday’s working day was brightened by a friend’s Facebook status:

“Hey! You! Fat man on a Cervelo puffing up the slight incline in Richmond Park.. You want to swap bikes? Mine costs less but you wouldn’t notice the difference, seriously. P.S buy a helmet”

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