Chris Boardman’s no-nonsense approach to safer cycling

Good on yer Chris Boardman. It’s increasingly rare to have anyone in even a vaguely political role speak frankly and honestly these days. That’s certainly not a criticism that can be levelled at British Cycling’s policy adviser for daring to speak his mind about cycling safety issues.

Never has anyone caused such controversy for not wearing a helmet as Boardman did in a film clip shown on BBC Breakfast last week.

“I understand exactly why people feel so passionately about helmets or high-vis. I understand why people wish to use them. But these actions seek to deal with an effect,” he said after the broadcast.

“I want to focus the debate on the cause, and campaign for things that will really make cycling safe. That is why I won’t promote high-vis and helmets; I won’t let the debate be drawn onto a topic that isn’t even in the top 10 things that will really keep people who want to cycle safe.”

The former Olympic champion drew plenty of support at cyclingweekly.co.uk where a consensus agreed that helmets are injury mitigation and not really prevention.

We all know that whether you choose to wear a helmet or not really isn’t the issue. Only a wholesale change in infrastructure and attitude will truly make cycling safer.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly

More on Chris Boardman

  • 1stTrax

    It seems the issues Mr. Boardman is bringing to the forefront are traffic related I can see where correcting these dangers would make cycling safer. However, not wearing a helmet is plain ridiculous! As a commuter, road biker, and mountain biker I can tell you I have landed on my head and it was on my mountain bike. WEAR YOUR HELMET!

  • Remember Chris is not saying you shouldn’t wear a helmet. He is saying that there are a whole load of other things that need to be done to keep cyclists safe.

    Totally support Mr Boardman’s approach to cycling safety.

  • Sasha

    I think he mainly meant leisure cycling and commuting. It is a whole different story when it comes to racing or even sportives. If you look at other developed European countries, commuters and leisure cyclists do not wear helmets. Why? Because attitude of motorists is different towards cycling (although you do meet occasional idiots). Hence me agreening with him. But I agree with you too, it will take a generation to implement.
    On personal level, I wear helmet on all rides except commute. Got hit by cars a few times while commuting, the closest i got of hitting my head was my chin.. 🙂

  • David Chadderton

    It is fine to have a discussion, mount a campaign, gather support, encourage action on the top ten things to make cycling safer, and work towards, “wholesale change in infrastructure and attitude”. Quite likely all these will take a generation to implement.

    On a personal level, I take my decision to wear noticeable clothes and a helmet for the purpose of “injury mitigation”. I know these may not be of much value if a motorist makes a good attempt at killing me, as some have done to other cyclists, but, while I avoid traffic and ride safely,doing as much as I can to avoid trouble, my head is protected from the occasional bump and that is my daily interest.

    Oh, did I not mention that all racing cyclists must wear a helmet?