Fitness & Health, Sports Medicine & Healthcare

Should cycle helmet laws only apply to children?

In many countries it is a legal requirement for cyclists to wear bicycle helmets but the UK is currently not one of these.

An increasing number of interest groups, including the British Medical Association, want to change this, arguing that mandatory cycle helmet laws will reduce the incidence of head injuries.

They argue that this will be both good for cyclists (because they will suffer fewer head injuries) and good for society (because the burden of having to treat cyclists suffering from head injuries will be reduced).

Now a controversial article in The Journal of Medical Ethics reports that proposed legislation to make cycle helmets compulsory in the UK should only apply to children given that the evidence is inconclusive that cycle helmets provide a substantial protection against serious head injuries in adults.

The authors from St George’s, University of London and the London Deanery argue that people should in principle be entitled to risk their own health if they choose to do so.

They suggest that cycle helmets may not be especially effective in reducing head injuries and state that the imposition of such a restrictive law would violate people’s freedom and reduce their autonomy.

They also argue that those who accept what they see as a restrictive law would be committed to supporting further legislation which would force many other groups – including pedestrians – to take fewer risks with their health.

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1 Comment

  1. Richard Burton says

    “In many countries it is a legal requirement for cyclists to wear bicycle helmets…..”? Half a dozen at most, and these laws were brought in without any discussion with cyclists or cycling organisations. In none of those countries has there been a reduction in risk to cyclists, and some research shows an increase in risk with helmet wearing.

    This new research reinforces the conclusions that have been reached by all researchers who have looked at all the evidence: cycle helmets are at best an irrelevance, and at worst, a dangerous distraction from real measures to make cycling safe.

    Most people think that cycling is very dangerous and cycle helmets are fantastically effective, but neither of these propositions is true. They believe this because there has been a twenty year long propaganda campaign to promote helmets, fronted by that utterly biased media organisation, the BBC.

    Helmets are a scam on the gullible, who are willing to pay good money for a pound’s worth of plastic that doesn’t work and you can’t take back when it fails. It’s worth noting that the manufacturers make no claims for the protective effect of their product, because they’d fall foul of advertising standards, so they leave that to the helmet zealots.

    Check out for the facts, rather than the BBC’s fairy tales.

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