Chris Boardman says he doesn't want to 'waste time' talking about helmets, saying that the focus should be on stopping accidents

Chris Boardman has said that he “won’t waste air time” discussing the safety effects of helmets and says the debate over them is “being used to deflect from making real decisions” about cycle safety.

The Olympic gold medalist was speaking to the Western Morning News in Exeter after a filming a new road safety video in the local area when he said that decisions should focus on how we stop accidents and not on whether a cyclist should be wearing a helmet or not.

Boardman, who has spoken out a number of times on the issue, was heavily criticised in November 2014 after appearing on the BBC Breakfast news programme discussing cycling safety while not wearing a helmet.

“I had the audacity to ride a bicycle in normal clothes and was pilloried for it,” he said.

“I dressed as I would to drive down the shops. I have nothing against helmets.If I go on long ride I wear one – sometimes out of habit, often on a mountain bike – but I am under no illusion about the effect on my safety. I manufacture the things. In an incident with a car they will have almost no effect.

“They are being used to deflect from making real decisions and I won’t waste air time talking about them. The danger for me is being hit by a vehicle doing something it shouldn’t. We should focus on how we stop accidents not what happens to people who have them.”

>>> Boardman calls on David Cameron to ‘get moving’ on cycling promises

The 46-year-old, who has been a long-term campaigner on cycle safety and now acts as British Cycling’s policy advisor, also says that the huge amount of data available to those in charge should be a wake-up call to promoting cycling as a primary means of transport.

“We are drowning in data – economic, health, pollution, you pick any battleground you want and using cycling as a mode of transport for short journeys wins hands down,” Boardman said.

“The only way to get people to exercise more is to get them to include it in their daily life. It is not about cyclists but communities. We need infrastructure and there need to be laws to protect people.

“At the moment the easiest way to kill somebody is to do it in a car with the minimum penalty. As a logical person I am desperately frustrated that we are even talking about this. The fact that we have to push for it is ludicrous.”

Boardman has previously said that he wants “to focus the debate on the cause and campaign for things that will really make cycling safe” but understands “exactly why people feel so passionately about helmets or high vis.”

After coming under criticism last year he responded by saying that helmets were “not even in the top-10 things” to keep rider safe.

“That is why I won’t promote high vis and helmets,” he said. “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.”

  • Bill the Bear

    What isnt true?

    Pedestrians arent moving at 15+ mph at a hight over tarmac so no they don’t need a helmet. Its a logical fallacy to suggest that beacause some low risk activity doesnt benefit from safety that no higher risk activity will either.

    Once again, you want to risk losing half your face because you cba to wear a sime helmet then go right ahead. But dont tell others its a good idea.

  • A Clarke

    That’s simply not true; we don’t insist pedestrians wear helmets. But we’re not going to waste time discussing it.

  • Bill the Bear

    I dont disagree with that. Im just pointing out it is extremely careless to imply it is ever ok to not wear a helmut which is what Chris has done. Imagine if a senior police officer said a seatbelt should be a choice!

    Once again, most times someone comes off a bike there aren’t even cars involved. And hitting the tarmac at even low speeds without a helmet can lead to severe injuries. Chris should have sad Always wear a hemet… But -insert Chris’s “real” point here-. Insead by using the words ‘helmet’ and ‘choice’ he is being extremely irresponsible.

  • Bill the Bear

    Can confirm.

  • Les Orton

    I think you are missing the point. Putting on a helmet is not going to solve the problem. And if you look at the facts you are more likely to have a head injury in a car than on a bike.

  • Bill the Bear

    Ok cool. Let me know what he says.

  • GeorgeB

    Thank you for your reply, alas however i guess we will have to agree to disagree.. somewhat, as I agree with you in that wearing a helmet is probably a good idea, but I think people are missing what Chris is REALLY trying to say,
    oh and i’ll tell him how “idiotic”and how much of a fool he is 😉

  • Bill the Bear

    Feel free to gamble with having your face or having half of it scrapped off if you wish. Its a personal choice!

    Oh, and when you and that idiot boardman have realised your dream and achieved this mythical world where no car ever hits a cyclist you can then explain how you are going to make sure no cyclist ever loses control, hits the kerb, hits a stone, gets dizzy, misjudges a corner,gets stung by a bee or any of the other million things that can and do happen and might cause you to fall off and slide your soft fleshy head across the hard unyielding tarmac.

    Or… you can ignore the idiotic advice of this fool boardman, put your helmet on, and know that you’ve done all you can no matter what random event might or might not lead to you falling off your bike.

    Feel free to try to reduce car-cyclist related accidents all you want, but never NEVER make the stupid mistake of thinking helmets are in any way a choice. PUT IT ON. Or if you don’t mind living with half a face feel free to take it off.

  • Bill the Bear

    Errm. There will Always be car crashes and I hope for your sake you wear your seatbelt!!! You do understand that I was pointing out how idiotic boardman’s comment was by demonstrating that his argument is the same as saying it should be a choice to wear a seatbelt or not. If you actually think “The REAL problem is to make sure no one ever has a car crash, not to focus on if the drivers had their belts on or not” is the case then im sorry but there is no help for you. Its equally important to focus on safety measures and boardman’s stupidity in implying it would ever be ok for someone to not wear their helmet is dangerous and foolish. Hes plain wrong and it needs to be made clear he is plain wrong or people listening to him will suffer horrific and UNNECESSARY injuries.

    I’ll try again just to make it clear this time. ALWAYS wear a helmet and DONT listen to this fool boardman. Its not a choice is essential! Unless of course you dont mind losing half your face which can happen with a car or simply because you hit a stone and then the tarmac at 15mph.

    But by all means if youre happy without a face then consider it optional. Have a goid day.

  • GeorgeB

    “The REAL problem is to make sure no one ever has a car crash, not to focus on if the drivers had their belts on or not”.

    … Exactly, and thats what He is trying to say, focus on awareness and education of ALL road users and stop using helmets as a scapegoat for the real issues, not that we shouldn’t wear helmets. I understand completely what your saying, and i think you yourself came to the same conclusion as Chris when it comes down to it. “The REAL problem is to make sure no one ever has a car crash”.

  • Sabrina Wharton-Brown

    During my first group ride it became obvious to me that the biggest dangers to cyclists is lack of education about how to cycle, and rubbish roads. New cyclists benefit from training (I did) and everyone else benefits from their improved skill and justified confidence.

    The other thing is that roads should be kept in better condition. (Why are manholes always in cycle lanes?) I just stopped in front of a pothole yesterday that was inches deep. Thank goodness I have effective brakes!

    Anyone would think that cycle lanes where designed by people who have something against cyclists. The surfaces are so rough that they slow you down and make it more tiring to ride. And then there are the bumps. They make my bell ding when I don’t want it to.

    I only wear a helmet when it rains to keep my head and face dry. I don’t wear high-viz, but all my tops are light or bright coloured, and my bike is white anyway. I used to wear a helmet, but stopped for several reasons. I also realised that I wasn’t suddenly going to become a jinx if I stopped wearing one. The only “safety gear” I wear on my bike (which is a sit-up-and-beg) is my pair of Aviator sunglasses to keep grit and insects out of my eyes. They’re not infallible, but they help. Helping keep my eyes open is going to do a lot more to keep me safe than wearing a helmet will.

    As for safety, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.” First, people need educating (without safety propaganda) with regards both to cycling and to driving near cyclists. Second is to sort out the roads. If we can’t have decent infrastructure yet, they could at least keep the roads we have in good condition.

    The only way we’re going to get the Government to do anything is to normalise cycling. There more people there are on bikes, the more _voters_ there are on bikes. The way to get people on bikes is to make it look appealing and fun. Look at the motoring trade. We all know people die in car accidents, but you never see warning labels and propaganda about cars. They make cars look glamorous and people fall for it. They see the cars driven by good-looking people through beautiful landscapes and cities otherwise devoid of traffic, buy the car, and still end up gridlocked. But that is marketing.

    If the same marketing people worked on cycling we’d get a lot more people riding bikes, and get all the benefits that come with such a society. This is why the “Cycle Chic” movement is so important. It isn’t a frivolous fad. I am a fashion student and I know the power that fashion, however silly and superficial it may appear to be, has on the world. Fashion and social media have much more influence over people than any politician because of the way our minds work.

    Normalising utility cycling is the way to go, and, at the risk of sounding terribly “Citizen Smith”, it’s up to us, the people, to get the ball rolling. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Ghadi.

  • Bill the Bear

    Absolutely shocked to hear him say this. Always wear a helmet! I’ve been involved in accidents before that didn’t even involve cars or anyone doing anything wrong, and the deep gashes running down the side of my helmet are proof that if you want to keep your face from being scrapped off you should ALWAYS wear a helmet.

    What he is saying is pure stupidity. Its as idiotic as if I said that its up to you if you wear a seat belt or not, no big deal right? The REAL problem is to make sure no one ever has a car crash, not to focus on if the drivers had their belts on or not.

    What a complete prat.

  • Paul Morris

    The debate would stop if Boardman said you should just wear helmets when on a bike. I’ve recently been involved in a serious cycle accident my helmet a KASK mojito saved my life. Your brain doesn’t repair like your bones – I have 16 fractures of my spine and ribs and a collapsed lung the only part of my body that the lorry hit was my head!!. The helmet transferred the energy to my spine and chest – the fractures will heal in 8 weeks my brain would not.
    You need to spend 5 mins on a neurology HDU or ITU in your local hospital to speak to the staff, you don’t get to talk to those playing lots of different sports without helmets, the slightest head injury on a bike , skiing or even skate boarding can cause permanent damage or you just die!

    If anyone can pass this message onto Chris stop the debate and advise the nation to wear a helmet, it will become just like putting a seat belt on in a car – natural. Then we can move to how to separate cyclists from the cars and lorries your never going to change the mentality of all motorists and it only takes one of them to kill your son or daughter, mum or dad- why do we need to wait for someone high profile to be killed before the government takes action

    Cycle safely in numbers and with a helmet

  • Pulley Fourth

    No.. Car drivers are taught to think about road safety.

    In the UK, driver training and testing is just about the most rigorous in the world and as a result we have just about the safest roads in the world. This is not speculation, this is fact. Of course accidents still happen, we’re still human after all but the frequency here is very very low and you all should be thankful that you live here.

    I’m an experienced and competent driver, I’ve driven in many countries, across all continents and coming home to the UK’s roads (not weather) is always a pleasure. One major issue though.. I feel the legitimacy of foreign driving licences should be questioned here, all people wishing to reside in the UK should be subject to the same stringent road safety training.

    I’m not a cyclist, I used to cycle to school a few decades ago and had a brief period of cycling to work. It’s a lot of fun and something I would really like to get involved with in the future.

    On the road as a motorist, I am acutely cautious around cyclists. Always giving way, always allowing excessive amounts of room. During driver training I was taught to imagine a cyclist keeling over into the road and when overtaking, to give them enough room to do so safely..

    You see my caution is nothing to do with respect and everything to do with expected incompetence/ignorance/stupidity by cyclists, this is reinforced by the behavior I see every single day.

    The most egregious part of it is that my safety is not in question. In my hulking metal bubble, I am in no danger from a bike but they are supremely vulnerable. They’re literally putting their lives in my hands. They’re giving responsibility for their lives to me, does that seem sensible? It seems ludicrous to me, to entrust a million random strangers with your life.

    I encounter cyclists both in the city and in the country. My region is popular with cycling clubs, we have some fantastic roads.

    In the city it’s the usual story. Inexperienced nervous cyclists with no concept of lane discipline, wobbling about inches from the lhs of my vehicle, or aggressive cyclists swerving in and out of traffic, shooting down the rhs without fair warning. Parents wobbling along with their kids strapped in child seats, worse still, trailing those child carrier things, heavy traffic, buses, lorries, and a person on a bicycle dragging their kid behind them in an unstable little trailer?!? Obviously, traffic lights.. Cyclists creeping out on red, or driving onto pavements/crossings to cross. Cyclists ignoring pedestrian crossings entirely, the only vehicle that has ever hit me was a cyclist running through a pedestrian crossing, who proceeded to fall off his bike and hit his head (once again I was responsible for his safety and this time I was only walking!). As for walking, we have many pedastrianised areas which cyclists claim as their own, zipping about, just expecting people to get out of their way. I see confrontations between cyclists and pedestrians a lot more frequently than between cyclists and motorists. Last week I sat in a public square eating lunch, people watching. The square was bustling with tourists and I watched in shock/amusement as two cyclists, fully kitted out, on dawes tourers, complete with panniers, wobbled their way through and blew their horns at groups of tourists in their way. They startled an elderly lady at one point who turned around and gave them a massive load of abuse which they fully deserved.

    In the country, things get more dangerous, speeds are higher, corners are tighter and blind. I regularly come around corners to be confronted by cyclists riding two or three abreast. Last year, I turned a corner to find a pack of cyclists immediately upon me, eight or nine people, cycling towards me, dispersed across BOTH lanes. I was immediately on the brakes, and didn’t hit anyone but had I been going faster I would have taken two or three of them out for sure. My car is loud and obvious, I can be heard from miles away, their behavior was deliberate and they laughed at me as I panicked and slammed on so as not to KILL THEM, hilarious! This was a group of club cyclists. As winter draws in we have the increasingly dark days and black evenings to contend with, to me this means cyclists with no/insufficient lighting on-top of all the aforementioned stupidity.

    Please understand, I am not quick to anger. I am a calm and patient driver with a lot of confidence, all born out of experience. I have never hit anyone, car, pedestrian or cyclist, I’ve never been convicted of any driving related offence, I’ve never even had a speeding ticket in this country. The worst thing I could imagine is hurting another person, so to be forced into situations daily in which my reaction speed, my level of attention, my skill, is the determining factor over whether cyclists live or die is nerve wracking..

    I know there are many good cyclists, who ride sensibly, signal early and clearly and respect the same rules I do. I know there are crappy drivers who seem fueled by anger or are half asleep. If a crappy driver hits me or pulls out in front of me, we get a few cross words, a few dents and an insurance premium hike, if a crappy cyclist does the same, they get life threatening injuries/death and I get a lifetime of guilt, ptsd, a potential manslaughter charge and prison.

  • Snorkky

    Car drivers are taught to pass a test, they are NOT taught to think.

    Most car drivers DON`T think, they are brain dead sheep.

  • burttthebike

    The study is actually rather well regarded and is far from being “dodgy”. On the other hand, your opinion is definitely not reliable scientific evidence; “the plural of anecdote is not data.” Neither is the singular.

  • RS

    Says one rather dodgy study. I have been knocked off less frequently while wearing a helmet than not, so your statistics are wrong for me anyway.

  • RS

    No. I’m suggesting it’s perhaps worth wearing crash hats even if they’re sometimes ineffective, just as it’s worth using seat belts even though they are sometimes ineffective.

  • David Peter Lang

    Oh dear. Back to the ad hominem again. Cyclists often do that when they can’t win an argument.

  • David Peter Lang

    But you need them. Cyclists are extremely vulnerable
    .

  • David Peter Lang

    Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of pushbike in English:

    noun

    British informal

    A bicycle..

    HTH.

    Back to the ad hominem again I see.

  • john plummer

    And, your point is?

  • john plummer

    Now you are being even more childish, how can I possibly have an airbag or a crumple zone on a “pedal” bike?

  • john plummer

    What is a push bike?
    Do you wear a crash hat in your car, no I don’t have a set belt or a crumple zone, do you and your passengers wear crash hats.

  • john plummer

    Absolutely right with thick planks like you driving around.

  • john plummer

    This just shows how thick you are, push bikes died out in the late 1800’s when pedals were added and from then on bicycles became pedal bikes but how would a plank like you know that?

  • john plummer

    You are still being so utterly childish and unthinking, I don’t think that you did grow up at age 14, you just thought that you did. Did you yet show your wife your childish postings on this site and you haven’t answered my posting re do you wear a crash helmet in your car?
    By the way, many cyclists who race are earning literally millions of pounds per annum riding “childish” bikes to victory in many races all over the world, just like the childish men who chase a football around a pitch every Saturday, how childish is that? I stopped kicking a football when I was 14 and decided to grow up. What do you do as an “adult; or perhaps I shouldn’t ask, show your wife this question if you dare?
    You also haven’t replied to my question as to what was deemed
    homophobic in one of my postings earlier.
    Your answer would be appreciated childish man.

  • David Peter Lang

    But according to Mr Plummer 99% of cyclists are motorists as well.

  • David Peter Lang

    99% of cyclists are motorists as well? Does that take in all the children? I have tried cycling. Until the age of 14, when I started to grow up.

  • john plummer

    Do you wear crash hat in your car, just answer the question?

  • john plummer

    you childish little “person” you keep coming back don’t you, just grow up and go away. 99% of cyclists are motorists as well so all your denigrating of them means nothing, so just go away and annoy somebody else and ask your wife what she think of all your childish postings. We ride bikes because we like to not because we cannot afford a car, cycling is fantastic just try it.

  • David Peter Lang

    It seems that it does not. . Perhaps donning the lycra outfit somehow removes their common sense. They certainly seem to lose any observation & anticipation skills.

  • David Peter Lang

    Do you have seat belts, air bags and crumple zones on your push bike?
    I do wear a hard hat when on site. I’d wear a safety helmet if I partook in canoeing, rock climbing, caving or horse riding where there was a significant risk of head injury. It’s called common sense.

  • john plummer

    Please enlighten me as to how my remark is homophobic?
    Go away and annoy somebody else and try to find an answer to your boredom elsewhere. If you don’t like cyclists or cycling, fine but just leave us alone, I drive around 20.000 miles per year which is far more miles than I cycle but I don’t have a problem with cyclists when I am driving, why do you?
    Where is your rational argument apart from calling cycles child’s toys, once again just grow up and go away. What does your wife think of your stupidity?

  • john plummer

    Do you wear a crash hat in your car if not why not?

  • john plummer

    What is your view on cyclists who are car drivers and have been for many years does their “car” training not count when they are cycling. Please note no ad hominem posting here.

  • David Peter Lang

    Completely ridiculous argument. Motorists have a wide array of safety devices which are responsible for the consistently improving safety record. A cyclist without a helmet has no protection whatsoever.

  • RS

    So what is your opinion, genius? Cyclists are vulnerable so they deserve to be injured or killed? Is that it?

  • David Peter Lang

    Try a simple test. Have someone drop a hammer weighing ‘X’ onto your head from a distance ‘Y’ whilst wearing a cycle helmet. repeat without the helmet. Record which causes more trauma.

  • David Peter Lang

    Motorists have to pass an extensive practical and theoretical test which includes hazard awareness. Cyclists haveno formal training whatsoever.

  • RS

    That research is rather irrelevant since in most accidents involving motor vehicles and bikes the driver isn’t even aware of the cyclist’s presence. If a lorry driver pulls left just after passing you, it is not because you are wearing a helmet.

  • Guy

    On the part of the drivers? Indubitably.

  • David Peter Lang

    Oh dear. Now you are making homophobic remarks. I read the article and was invited to comment. You clearly have a problem with my opinion, but appear to lack the intellectual capacity to make a rational argument. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect someone who rides a child’s toy to be capable of reasoned argument.

  • Mark Goodson

    As per burtthebike’s comment. The error that most helmet supporters make is assuming that the chance of being in an accident with and without a helmet is the same. Not so. Research at Bath University showed that drivers give helmetless cyclists more room and the Risk Compensation Effect is well established in psychology suggesting that when people feel protected they take greater risks. This probably explains why cycling head injuries have not been reduced in the few places that have implemented helmet laws. What has been drastically reduced has been the number of people cycling with the knock effects in terms of heart disease, Type II diabetes, etc.

  • RobTM

    If you get forced over by contact with car, then it may help reduce the bang of head hitting road. My choice is to use helmet for any significant distance or speed on tarmac. I’d also use them on MTB XC type trails.. but I find it gets in way on my regular dog walk, which sounds much safer than the riding you’re doing, so I choose to ride like everyone did when I was growing up, helmetless

  • RobTM

    That’s how they responded to the Wiggin’s crash and an example of a discussion being sidetracked. So it’s very relevant to Boardman point

  • jefrs

    From motorcycle use, you have to learn to anticipate idiots and assume all other road users are deliberately trying to kill you.
    Never loose you rag with them as the bloke doing the most shouting is always assumed to be the one in the wrong.

  • jefrs

    It’s not illegal for a car to use the cycle lane unless there is a bike in it (driving without due care etc), some roads are simply not wide enough for both car and bike lane; bike lanes are not marked wide enough ‘cos they go with the minimum width guide-line not the recommended width (stupid is as stupid does)

    You must stay out of the door zone even if that means pushing out into the primary road position.

  • jefrs

    They (branches) hurt even more without a lid 😉
    Actually it’s more about ducking under solid branches and brushing through twigs and leaves, they can sting without a lid. I for one am far more likely to take a tumble riding off road, hopefully into some nice soft mud.
    Wearing a helmet certainly does not work if you are hit by a car.

  • john plummer

    Here’s another ad hominem attack, you are a silly little bored childish man(I think) who is trying to wind people up on this site who happen to enjoy cycling, most of whom are motorists as well. Just go away and annoy somebody else. We love riding our bikes out throughout the country lanes that we have in England so again just go away and grow up. There must be another way for you to spend your valuable time.;

  • David Peter Lang

    Oh dear! Another ad hominem attack.. Do you have any comment to make on the research quoted?

  • john plummer

    What a silly little bored man(i think) you are.

  • john plummer

    Yes, all car drivers and passengers should wear helmets.

  • john plummer

    Just wear a helmet in your car and stop bleating.

  • john plummer

    Why are some of you people so childish and like to talk about Mail readers, just grow up.

  • Michal Zadrag

    No it’s because the infrastructure feels safe unlike the hostile US.

  • Michal Zadrag

    Perhaps you should read his blog then…

    http://thinkingaboutcycling.com/

    Funny where cycling is enabled with infrastructure it ceases to be a ‘minority pursuit’.

  • Michal Zadrag

    Your flawless reasoning can be used for any minority since you didn’t you used the fact that cyclists are a minority for your conclusion.

    How does one ‘cope’ with being hit from behind anyway?

  • burttthebike

    And you, like most of the human race, is incredibly bad at assessing risk. If we all followed your model, we’d never get out of bed, walk a step, or take any risk at all. Why don’t you check the risks of cycling compared to just living; you’ll find it’s negative.

  • Another Edinburgh Cyclist

    I am in the process of selecting what lights i will buy for this winter as its a few years since i needed to ride after dark, something pretty bright and eye catching, but not blinding.
    As for Helmets, i wear one when out on the road bike for training rides as its compulsory when riding with most clubs, may as well do it when solo too.
    But i dont wear one when travelling around town on my other bike. I believe in the “motorists give me more space when i dont have one on” theory.
    The closest shaves have always been when im wearing a helmet

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    I totally resent that. Wearing a bike helmet isn’t any weirder than putting on a seat belt in a car, which in my childhood was considered weird. I’m all for safer bicycle infrastructure, but that doesn’t have any effect on the consequences of a collision. What’s “weird” is highly subjective and should have no bearing on safety. The Dutch don’t wear helmets because they’re less risk averse then most people in the US.

  • Gavin Patterson

    There’s no need to be condescending. The evidence is not as clear cut as you’re making out. I’ll keep wearing my helmet.

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    Risk assessment isn’t just about the probability of getting into a collision; it’s about the consequences of that collision. When the consequences are huge, we tend to take greater steps to reduce the risk even if the probability is very remote. Most cyclists will go through their entire lives never actually needing their bike helmets. That doesn’t mean they’re better off not using them. As much as I admire the Dutch for their bicycle infrastructure, I think that riding a bike without a helmet is just as dumb as driving a car without a seat belt. Is the drawback to wearing a bike helmet really that huge?

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    Accidents are unavoidable and nobody is at fault. Collisions are a result of someone being at fault. I wish we’d stop calling collisions accidents. Most collisions aren’t accidents at all.

  • HHGeek

    How? A seat belt is designed to restrict your movement. A helmet is designed to reduce your impact.

    Or are you suggesting that either bicycles have seatbelts, or car users wear helmets?

  • burttthebike

    Mark, you must be new to this helmet debate, so can I suggest that you might like to check a few facts? cyclehelmets.org

  • burttthebike

    “But an argument that presumes that they do NOTHING is not valid……”

    Unless of course, you look at the evidence, and all the long term, large scale, reliable evidence shows that they do nothing. So difficult, which to believe, our assumptions or the data?

  • burttthebike

    “I agree that in the UK it is rational to wear a helmet because the risk / likelihood of accident is too great.”

    You might be interested to know that the risk/likelihood of a collision goes up by about 14% if you wear a helmet, so it’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • burttthebike

    These situations are the same for pedestrians, who suffer the same level of risk per mile travelled as cyclists, so you are in favour of pedestrian helmets?

    Also, very few people in Denmark or Holland wear helmets, but cycling is incredibly safe there, so these “possible accidents” must be rarer than hens’ teeth.

  • David Peter Lang

    I conclude from your blatant ad hominem attack that you are unable to form a rational argument.. Do you deny that Dave Hortons research is valid?

  • David Peter Lang

    Do you deny that the research is correct? Do you have any data that disproves it? Is anyone who disagrees with you a troll?

  • David Peter Lang

    The reasoning is far from ridiculous. Cyclists are an insignificant minority of road users using what is basically a child’s toy as a form of transport. The ultimate idiocy.,If they are unable to cope with modern traffic they should stop cycling.

  • burttthebike

    Oh dear, you’re new to the helmet debate aren’t you Gavin.

    Helmets do provide very limited protection but thanks to thirty years of propaganda and lies, most people overestimate this wildly. Such little protection as they do provide is overwhelmed by risk compensation, and all the long term, large population, reliable data shows either no reduction in risk with increased helmet wearing, or an increase in risk.

    Factor in that helmet propaganda and laws deter people from getting the astonishing health benefits from regular cycling, and the outcome is very large and very negative.

  • David Peter Lang

    Presumably a troll is someone who has a differing opinion that you can#t argue against.

  • Aardeegeedubya

    Excuse me, I didn’t say they do nothing, I wouldn’t wear one or high vis if I though that, it’s just that they don’t mitigate against motorists not understanding or being aware of other road users

  • gypsydonut

    This is called confirmation bias in science. You have not died as a result of not wearing a helmet, therefore when you discuss your experiences with cycling you’re comparing yourself to a group that, by definition, can’t post. If you died from a head injury while bike riding, you can’t say “I didn’t wear a helmet and it was why I had traumatic brain injury and died.” Because you’d be dead.

    No one has ever said that helmets are designed to prevent all accidents or injury. They’re designed to prevent blunt force trauma from things like falls.

    Personally I’m in the category of “it’s your head to break,” aside from the fact that injury that results in ER visits increases the cost of insurance to everyone else.

    But an argument that presumes that they do NOTHING is not valid, nor is an argument that they can save you from ANYTHING.

    Which is why Boardman says that it’s not worth discussing. Whether you think that the helmet would save you or not doesn’t matter overall. Keeping those people from t-boning you does more good because that can save multiple lives, while a helmet can only at most save one.

  • lagattamontral

    Lights after dark are mandatory in cycling-friendly Netherlands.

  • RobTM

    avoid low branches.. they’re dangerous even WITH a helmet!

  • Gavin Patterson

    You’re saying they don’t provide any protection at all? Try head butting a wall with and without a helmet. See which does most damage.

  • burttthebike

    An interesting point, and if the evidence from places with a helmet law showed that they did indeed provide protection, then it would be valid, but the evidence shows the opposite.

  • burttthebike

    “Sir know it all Boardman”? Well, he certainly knows more than you, that’s for sure, but then, he’s actually bothered to look at the evidence, unlike you.

    You could educate yourself and spare yourself and others embarrassment by looking at the facts cyclehelmets.org

  • burttthebike

    Assuming that you’re not a troll…..

    Unless you’re a midget, and less than a meter tall, you’re logic applies exactly the same to pedestrians, and co-incidentally, they have the same risk per mile travelled as cyclists.

    Not reading the evidence and making ill-informed comments is a selfish personal choice.

    You might like to use your head and read the evidence cyclehelmets.org

  • burttthebike

    “……are there not a large number of possible accidents in which a protective
    helmet could be beneficial but do not involve a car at all?”

    So how come in places where they have a helmet law, risk goes up, not down. On the face of it, it is obvious that helmets ought to protect, but all the reliable evidence shows that they don’t. Perhaps we ought to start believing the evidence instead of our assumptions?

    cyclehelmets.org

  • burttthebike

    No proof then?

    It always amazes me that people make completely unsupported assertions, but never admit that they are wrong when called on to prove it, they just try to distract with irrelevancies.

    You might like to check your facts cyclehelmets.org it’ll save you some painful surgery having your foot removed from your mouth again.

  • RobTM

    Effective helmets worn inside cars, may well increase other, more common injuries; like whip lash and neck injuries, that might shift the balance of risk.

  • alan macdougall

    The second you get on a bike you can fall off and onto your head. A ride of one meter is long enough to sustain a head injury. The worst I ever hit my head was going head over handlebars

    Not wearing a helmet is a selfish personal choice. If you interact with a motorist and it’s your fault and you fall on your head they will pay for it. As a cyclist, I will not put other people in that’s harm’s way.

    We all make mistakes- cyclists are not perfect. You only get one head- use it and put on a helmet.

  • RobTM

    I’m sure you can see that car coming the other way when you’re driving.. if it suddenly veers into your path, observation skills won’t help you avoid that head on. Anticipating the possibility would mean you could NEVER make forward progress.
    It doesn’t matter how defensive one rides, every frequent cyclist has plenty of war stories about careless and dangerous motorists.. as DOES every driver.

  • RobTM

    I’ve been run into pedestrian rails when in a bus/cycle lane by cars (illegally) suddenly pulling into it rather than queue, never mind being squeezed by dangerous over taking traffic. Not where one wants to be, but in a country that puts cycle lane markings right next to marked car spots and even allows motorists to obstruct cycle lanes, it’s not always possible to stay out of the door zone.

  • RobTM

    don’t ride under trees with low branches that’s stupid and dangerous with a helmet or not… grass is slippy but so what?
    Practical helmets didn’t even exist when I learnt to ride, yet on a road training ride, group ride,or serious XC trail I’d ALWAYS wear one.
    That doesn’t mean it’s essential in every circumstance. Look at commuters in Holland for example

  • Adam Beevers

    Whilst I agree with Sir know it all Boardman that we should be investing in more proactive solutions that removes cars from the equation, I’m going to to all I can in the short term to preserve my own life, which means helmet, lights, hi vis etc.

    I slammed into a turning car the other year (the driver didn’t bother to look), resulting in a large crack in my helmet. I’m just glad it wasn’t my head. Helmets DO have a place in riding on the road, even down to the local shops. Whilst it won’t help in a high speed collision with a car, there are plenty of other situations where it will.

  • mark.

    As a guy said above, places such as denmark have very few accidents involving cars/cyclists because they have invested heavily and created a system/infrastructure that allows this to happen. But unfortunately the UK isn’t even close to reaching that point yet. Boardman is doing a great job to put the pressure on and reach a solution to the issue, but until then i still think it’s worth protecting ourselves as best we can.

    In response to your comment I put this to you: if you are involved in an accident, irrespective of who’s to blame, and you smack your head on a bonnet, road, rock, wherever, you think that you’ll be 100% better off without a helmet?

  • David Chadderton

    Sure, separated bike paths, velodromes, gravel trails and closed roads for sportives and professional races are all great for rider safety, as is driver education and training. Oh, hang on, cyclists do fall off all of those as well as crashing into motorbikes and cars in the events. I’m wearing my helmet thanks.

  • Aardeegeedubya

    I know you’re a troll, but I think it is only right to clear Dave Horton’s name.
    the report say none of the things quoted above & if anyone wants to actually read what it said.
    http://www.its.leeds.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/UWCReportSept2011.pdf

  • Aardeegeedubya

    granted, I should have given the car door a wider berth, but in the other 3 instances I fail to see how observation and anticipation would have:
    1. prevented me from getting hit by a car turning left as if I wasn’t there.
    2. allowed me to avoid an oncoming car that was stationary as I approached, at the last moment pulling across my path as if I wasn’t there.
    3. avoided getting clipped by an overtaking car that had left no space for a cyclist

  • jefrs

    I strongly agree with Boardman on this.
    Keeping cyclists safe is education not helmet debate.

  • jefrs

    The few times I’ve had my head clouted is woodland and grass.

    Trees have low branches and grass is slippery.
    You have fallen there, do you fall on the road.

  • Chris Clifton

    As I recall, statistically, car occupants were said to be more at risk of head injuries, even with seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones. Therefore if cyclists must wear helmets, there is an even stronger argument to make car users wear helmets! I don’t know the source of the statistics, therefore I can’t comment on its reliability. The elephant in the room here is that if you argue for one class of road users (cyclists) to have to use helmets, then there may be an equally good arguement for all road users to be required to wear head protection. Including those who believe that their tin boxes protect them from all injury.

  • jefrs

    If you get caught by a door, you’re too close to the car. Even if the driver looks first, you’d be in the car’s blind spot behind the rear pillar. Same as being overtaken whilst you’re on a bike, the cyclist has to give cars space too.
    Lorry turning left is the lorry driver’s fault, their duty is to ensure safety of other road users i.e. let cyclist go on first (the rule is – only overtake where safe to do so).

  • Gavin Patterson

    I think helmets are worth wearing. Even if they just give us a bit of protection. I don’t think they should be law though. It should be individual choice.

  • Whele

    For a self-confesses FB because
    his hobby is eating, maybe a few cycle journeys for David Peter Lang would lead
    to a less bigoted viewpoint and also reduce his waistline.

  • RobTM

    troll… please don’t feed it

  • RobTM

    Cycling proficiency
    David Lang is a troll, please don’t feed it!

  • Lord Voldemort

    Lol brilliant reply Michal.

  • RobTM

    Do you need Chris Boardman to remind you to wear a helmet?
    If NOT … then it’s a waste of his air time to discuss them, just deflects the discussion into a comfort zone for careless motorists who want to shift responsibility

  • RobTM

    helmets prevent or minimise many head injuries… But a cyclist wants to avoid all the other injuries to, caused by cars pulling out into our path.
    There also needs to be some postive driver education message, explaining how to drive near cyclists and how to SEE cyclists

  • Michal Zadrag

    That reasoning is ridiculous. Since babies are a minority, it’s their responsibility to look after their own safety.

  • RobTM

    troll… please don’t feed it

  • RobTM

    You’re right.. anyone going on a group ride NEEDS to wear a helmet because of potential for sudden crashes.
    But it’s NOT the lack of helmets that make road cycling dangerous. Remember when Wiggins had someone pull in front of him? All those wonderful Mail readers, were deflected into “did he have lights.. did he have a helmet on?” etc, which is IRRELEVANT to improving cycling safety for real

  • Michal Zadrag

    Probably wouldn’t help much considering the majority of car bike collisions are the sole fault of the driver…

  • burttthebike

    Sorry for my previous response everyone, I didn’t realise this was a troll.

  • Philip Coleman

    I agree that in the UK it is rational to wear a helmet because the risk / likelihood of accident is too great. I do, however, commend that someone is pushing a bigger answer than “wrap yourself up in cotton wool, because it is dangerous out there” We won’t change the culture towards greater cycle use by scaring people. We might by raising awareness that better infrastructure reduces risk and press for the rebalancing of the car-obsessed dominance of our cities. (and I am not saying punish all motorists either – there has to be an answer that works for all)

  • burttthebike

    Except that the overwhelming majority of collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists the fault lies with the driver, not the cyclist. Blame the victims why not?

  • burttthebike

    “Bottom line is they are proven to save lives……”

    Oh really? Perhaps you’d like to post a few examples of your proof?

    Then you can explain why in places where helmet wearing has rising overnight, there is no helmet effect and no reduction in risk, and why the biggest ever study found that risk increased with helmet wearing.

  • RobTM

    the majority of people simply don’t understand now, the room a cyclist needs and why, nor understand how we’ll maneuvre. They also don’t scan at junctions to see narrow vehicles, but tend to glance just looking for cars and up.

  • RobTM

    Yeah.. the time I don’t wear a helmet is low speed ride out with dog, which is mostly woodland path and grass. When I have fallen, head doesn’t even hit the ground

  • RobTM

    Alot of drivers just don’t look properly.. being able to shout a warning loudly has saved me many times, but also gets perceived as “aggressive” and I’ve been taken off once to

  • David Peter Lang

    I agree. We should reduce the likelihood by introducing a driving test for cyclists.

  • David Peter Lang

    Cycling is a weird thing done by weird people. That’s why it accounts for less than 1% of passenger miles.

  • David Peter Lang

    No problem. As long as cyclists wear seatbelts, have air bags & crumple zones.

  • David Peter Lang

    But observation and anticipation skills would help.

  • David Peter Lang

    “Many people barely recognise the bicycle as a

    legitimate mode of transport; it is either a toy for children or a

    vehicle fit only for the poor and/or strange,” Dave Horton, of Lancaster

    University, wrote in an interim assessment of the Understanding Walking

    and Cycling study. “For them, cycling is a bit embarrassing, they fail

    to see its purpose, and have no interest in integrating it into their

    lives, certainly on a regular basis.”

  • David Peter Lang

    Since cyclists are an insignificant minority, it’s their responsibility to adapt to modern road conditions and look after their own safety.

  • Philip Coleman

    There are two aspects to risk. Likelihood and impact. Too much time spent on mitigating the impact and not enough time on reducing the likelihood of accidents happening. Boardman has a point. Personally, whilst the likelihood of trouble is so high, I will wear a lid, but his point about what to focus on is well made. In Holland, it would be irrational to wear a helmet as the probability of accident is so much lower thanks to proper infrastructure and a culture of respecting two wheels.

  • RS

    You could apply exactly the same reasoning to car seat belts too.

  • RS

    I’ve also been taken out four times by cars. Twice I was hospitalised with concussion. Thanks to that experience and the realisation that being fit and having quick reactions will not stop one’s head hitting the ground, I now usually wear a helmet when I go out training. That is my choice though, and I definitely agree with Mr Boardman on this matter.

  • HHGeek

    My commute to work involves an A road where cars are averaging 50 mph. If one of those hits me, I’m a smear on the tarmac, helmet or no helmet.

  • HHGeek

    I have hi-viz & a shiny shiny silver helmet. I still get vehicles pulling out from junctions because they’ve failed to notice me.

  • Brian Turpin

    As usual Boardman is bang on the money and clearly frustrated about the lack of action from politicians and leaders who should use the evidence to make some obvious decisions. I campaign with a local group of cyclists in SELondon with I’m afraid an all too familiar lack of results or improvements. One thing I have learned though is not to talk about cycling, or cyclists. This simply enables the nay sayers to launch into a tirade about lycra louts and, yes, helmets. Better to talk about health, transport, and better communities not blighted by the menace of relentlessly increasing traffic. Well done Boardman, and I’m so grateful to you for persevering in the face of negative dogma from those who should know better

  • mark.

    I agree that he has made many good points and it’s great that he’s focusing on preventing accidents not just cycle safety, however wearing a helmet makes all the difference and I don’t agree with is his unwillingness to promote helmet use. It’s just dumb. I have had a car drive into the side of me and if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet I would have had a serious head injury. One of my friends recently had an accident on their bike as well, there were no cars involved and it was just an unlukcy fall, but again if she wasn’t wearing a helmet she too could have had a serious head injury.

    Bottom line is they are proven to save lives irrespective of cause of accident and it’s just ignorance for cyclists not to bother just because they know the rules of the road and expect nothing to happen to them every time they are out on a ride. Accidents are unpredictable and it’s worth protecting yourself against them every way you can.

  • Mark Goodson

    Bang on! If you look at countries like Holland and Denmark they have great cycling safety records and people cycle in normal clothes with no helmet. Because they invest in infrastructure and cyclists are a priority.

    When you criticise others cyclists for not wearing helmets you reinforce the idea that cycling is a weird thing done by weird people wearing weird clothes and that cyclists are to blame for accidents by not wearing the right gear.

  • Pak Custy

    Whatever the situation may be when being hit by a car, are there not a large number of possible accidents in which a protective helmet could be beneficial but do not involve a car at all? Slipping on ice, sudden punctures, potholes or brake failure could all lead to a dangerous accident. I think helmets would prevent injuries sustained during these accidents or at least lessen the damage.

  • Chris Clifton

    In another discussion on this, I seem to recall reading that enforcing helmet wearing for occupants of motor vehicles would save more lifes and injuries. i.e. Rather than forcing cyclists to wear helmets, drivers and passengers should wear helmets. This argument was backed up by statistics of head injuries to motor vehicle occupants vs, cyclists.

  • Aardeegeedubya

    Totally agree

  • Half Back

    Chris Boardman time after time talks complete sense. He’s aiming to find a solution to the problem rather than just plonking more and more onus on helmets, high viz, cameras etc. The cycle network within built up areas is still a shambles of disconnected and totally useless segments of path/road which appear to only be there to tick the local authority box that they are ‘committed’ to cycling safety. Plus, as Chris states there is little deterrent for drivers to take extra care when penalties/punishments for killing or injuring a cyclist are ridiculously low. You hear of long prison sentences for tax evasion while a killer of a cyclist often walks away. This just shows the priority the government places between money and life.

  • Aardeegeedubya

    Hear, hear!
    I’ve been taken out 4 times by cars, car door getting opened onto me, car turning left into me, an oncoming car turning right across my path & getting my handlebar clipped by an overtaking car.
    Neither the the hi-vis waistcoat nor the helmet that i was wearing prevented any of these incidents.

  • Simon ‘Sprout’ Phillips

    Helmets, get a whatever from me. But there is no excuse for riding on the road and not having lights when the conditions call for it.

  • Nigel Rue

    Les, having just been the victim of a car turning left into me I couldn’t agree more.

  • Les Orton

    Well said. Wearing a helmet is personal choice. Being hit by a car that “didn’t see you, because I wasn’t looking” isn’t a choice.