Pedalling home with only 5km to go till I get a warm cup of tea, put my feet up and watch the football. It was a horrible day not ideal for cycling at all, not quite the glamorous weather you see while watching ‘Le Tour de France’. The rain was lashing down in force; the roads were treacherous which made it very difficult for me to get any real rhythm or speed at all. I was on the main road so the splashes from the cars speeding through puddles were spraying onto my black tinted glasses making virtually impossible to see.
I had everything there was to have for a cyclist; Bike, Lycra clothing, Shoes, Mud guards, Lights…. But not a helmet! I thought they looked ridiculous! I tried to take the 2nd exit of a roundabout at high speed when suddenly…. Bang! A large car loses grip and skids straight into me, sending me flying off my bike head-first striking the pavement with my temple. By the time the ambulance came it was too late, blood and debris everywhere! I am now just another statistic just because I never had a helmet…
The first reason why cycling helmets should be make compulsory is the big OBVIOUS one, helmets prevent head injuries! Yes, they do! However big or small helmets will prevent such injures. You can expect to pay around £10 for a decent helmet, which is much less valuable than a human life. Recently the CDC released a statement saying that cyclists who wear helmets are 85% less likely to be killed in an accident, in the USA 91% of cycle-related deaths occurred when the cyclist had not worn a helmet, this number of unfortunate accidents may not have been fatal if the cyclist simply was wearing a helmet! – You can even get them delivered straight to your door nowadays! I myself am a cyclist and I wear a helmet every single time I go out on my bike, for a race or simply just to go to the shop to buy milk! I recommend you do the same before you become another statistic.
Moreover, cycling helmets aid novice cyclists’ confidence out on the open roads of Britain. They will feel much more at home if they don’t need to worry about head injuries and can concentrate more on the road and how best to get used to their bikes. In Bradley Wiggins’ book: “In pursuit of Glory” Wiggins’ stated that wearing a helmet made him more confident of the open roads, look where he is now! Nowadays drivers are very careless when it comes to passing cyclists on the roads, most give plenty of room and are very courteous but a small minority of divers despise cyclists and don’t think they should have the same rights of the road.
These sorts of people pass cyclist by a matter of inches at high speeds which would seriously dent a new cyclists’ confidence. Before I joined a cycling club and started competing nationally I was out for a training ride on a Wednesday night when a car passes me at about 65mph and knocked me off into the fields at the side of the road. I consider myself lucky that I had a helmet and that I fell away from the road otherwise I would not be writing this just now!
In addition, most cycling deaths would have been prevented if a cyclist had been wearing a helmet. In the USA two-thirds of cyclists admitted to hospital have head injuries from not wearing a helmet. There is enough evidence from that statistic to show that helmets should be made compulsory, It has been proven in Australia and New Zealand that hospitals are less filled with cyclists due to the compulsory helmet law, so why – In Britain where we all complain about hospital waiting hours put a simple law in place which prevents people getting hurt and also allows more space in hospitals?
Although it is not a national law as of yet in Britain for most cycling clubs it is, they greatly encourage helmet use by making them compulsory for rides and events related to the club. In competitive events British Cycling – The governing body for cycling in Britain – have also made helmet use compulsory in races. All of the cycling communities’ top priority is safety! Yes even before winning. Wearing a helmet is essential even before thinking about joining a club. Cycling clubs are your route into competitive cycling; you don’t see cyclists in major events riding without helmets these days do you? I think not, so if you have in fact been inspired by Team Sky’s heroic performance in Le Tour De France or Wiggo’s Olympic time trial victory and fancy a shot at racing, you MUST have a helmet otherwise you will not be allowed to race.
Finally, In Australia and New Zealand a compulsory helmet law has been put in place, many thought this law would cause cycling numbers to decrease but in fact in 2011 Australia saw an increase in cycling participation of 21% which is a huge number of people considering the population of Australia is around 22 million. Australia is a major cycling nation along with the likes of The Netherlands and France so there are lots of cyclists on the road which is generally safer than the UK’s roads which have fewer cyclists. Fewer cyclists means that divers will pay less attention to cyclists on the road so people cycling in Britain are more at risk of being struck than in The Netherlands for example so helmets are essential in case an accident occurs.
Cycling is a sport which is growing in Britain. Many people now ride for fun or competitively which is now making helmet use even more essential. Whether you are aspiring to be the next British cycling star, riding to get fit or to meet new friends you should wear a helmet, if you are going 1km or 200km you should wear a helmet! I hope this overwhelming evidence has persuaded you to buy a helmet if you don’t already have one. I acknowledge the opposing arguments such as: “Helmets look ridiculous” or “Cycling numbers will decrease” but at the end of the day helmets save lives and will continue to do so. In the end it is your decision but chose wisely! Just enjoy this unique and wonderful sport.