We’re free to wear whatever we please while riding a bike. But to those who might be considering a compulsory helmet law, like that in Australia or the law that looks as though it may be adopted in Northern Ireland, think again.
I can’t put it any better than Ann Warren, of Southwark Cyclists:
This is a huge issue for me. If they make them compulsory I will either have to give up cycling or go to prison.
My thoughts are:
1. Accepting the hostile cycling environment we have in London to the extent that we are willing to wear body armour seems like capitulation to me. I want motor-free cycle routes like they have in modern cities elsewhere. Forget Australia and Canada where there are no pedestirans. Think of Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, China – no-one over the age of three wears a cycle helmet in these places.
2. If cycling is so dangerous that I have to wear a helmet, why on earth would I want to do it? I wouldn’t dream of doing any of those dangerous, boyish things like potholing or motorbiking for which people have to wear helmets.
3. Someone did some research a couple of years ago (in Bristol? Bath?) measuring the distance between moving vehicles and a moving cyclist – you get four more inches (10cm) if you don’t wear a helmet. This confirms what I have noticed myself. (Apparently you get another four inches if you wear a blonde wig – but what’s new?)
4. I don’t really want my town filled with urban warriors in helmets. It’s not polite. What kind of town do you want to live in?
5. I want my daughters to cycle.
6. If helmets are essential for cycling, then they are definitely essential for climbing or descending stairs. Every staircase should have a basket of helmets of various sizes at top and bottom, especially public staircases. Think of all those reckless young people who run up and down two at a time. How can the authorities be so cavalier as not to legislate to ensure their safety?