Bradley’s success sparks wave of cycling participation but at what cost?

The success of British riders in the Tour de France and Olympic Games has already inspired increasing numbers of their compatriots to get on their bikes.

Bradley Wiggins followed up his groundbreaking Tour de France victory by winning Olympic gold in the Men’s Individual Time trial and British riders are also looking to repeat their haul of gold medals in Beijing four years ago.

British Cycling, the sport’s governing body in the UK, has reported a surge in interest in cycling and says the industry is now worth around £3.25 billion to the country’s economy.

“We are seeing a step change in the numbers of people riding bikes. The success internationally has definitely been one of the reasons for that. It’s almost becoming the norm now. Most people will know somebody who is riding a bike on a regular basis,” British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said.

However a surge of inexperienced cyclists onto our congested roads will inevitably lead to more accidents and following the tragic death of a 28 year old cyclist near the Olympic Park yesterday, Bradley Wiggins called for the wearing of safety helmets to be made compulsory.

Wiggins said making it illegal to cycle without a helmet would make the roads safer “because ultimately, if you get knocked off and you ain’t got a helmet on, then how can you kind of argue”.

But just how much protection does a helmet give to cyclists? Earlier this year we reported a controversial article in The Journal of Medical Ethics that said 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.

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