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The cycling safety debate – should you wear a helmet?

Posted on June 21st 2017

cycling safety - should you wear a helmet?

Last week in the Telegraph, BBC Radio 4 presenter, John Humphreys said that he believes his white hair offers him more protection when cycling, than a cycling helmet.

“I don’t wear a helmet on the assumption that motorists will give elderly cyclists a ‘wide berth.'”

Are his comments misguided? At Oliver & Co we speak to many clients who have been involved in road traffic accidents whilst on their bike. Of course, not all of them choose to wear helmets. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of wearing a cycling helmet. How much protection does a helmet really provide?

According to figures published by the UK Department of Transport, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on UK roads between July and September 2016 increased by 10% compared to the previous year. Whilst unlikely to indicate a growing trend, this shows that the roads are still a dangerous place for cyclists.

The cons of wearing a cycling helmet:
  • Cost – The price of a helmet can range anywhere from £20 to £200, but to get a decent helmet you will probably want to spend at least £40. If you do not wear a helmet, then you do not have to pay anything directly.
  • Comfort – Cycling helmets, especially cheap ones, may be uncomfortable to wear for long periods. This is especially true in the summer months, when they are likely to make you warmer as you ride.
  • Safety in numbers – For some, wearing a helmet discourages them from ever getting on a bike. Studies have shown that if more people got involved in cycling it would be safer for everyone. This is because more people cycling leads to greater political will to make cycling safer through cycle paths, etc. In addition, drivers become more aware of cyclists and get used to anticipating their behaviour.
The pros of wearing a cycling helmet:

We believe that the pros of wearing a helmet greatly outweigh these cons. The truth is you never expect to fall off your bike and injure yourself. However, it happens frequently. The more often you ride your bike, the more likely you are to suffer an injury. If you are not wearing a helmet, the likelihood is that these injuries may be much worse.

A Department of US Transport study from 2015 found that in New York almost three-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury. In September 2016, The Guardian reported on a separate study, which supported the aforementioned. In a major study of bike helmet usage around the world, looking at more than 64,000 cyclists, they found that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70%.

At Oliver & Co we have seen clients in the past suffer worse injuries due to not wearing a helmet. Head injuries can be life changing. They can cause long-term brain damage, disability, vision loss, amnesia, seizures and much more. If you think the cost of buying a helmet is too much, imagine the cost of long-term care and being unable to work.

How can we help?

If you are a cyclist who has been involved in a road traffic accident, whether you were wearing a helmet or not, contact us for free advice on 01244 312306.

Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306