Bicycle helmets should not be compulsory, say doctors

From The Telegraph

Wearing bicycle helmets should not be mandatory, doctors have said in a surprise finding published in the British Medical Journal.

If people are forced to wear helmets they may give up cycling altogether and lose the health benefits of regular exercise, they warned.

More than two thirds of the respected journal’s readers said they opposed compulsory helmets for adults.

One respondent in the poll of 1,427 people said: “It gives out the message that cycling is dangerous, which it is not. The evidence that cycling helmets work to reduce injury is not conclusive.

“What has, however, been shown is that laws that make wearing helmets compulsory decrease cycling activity. Cycling is a healthy activity and cyclists live longer on average than non-cyclists.”

Another added: “Since nowhere with a helmet law can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, only a reduction in cyclists, why would anyone want to bring in a law for something which is clearly not effective at reducing the risk to cyclists?”



14 replies
  1. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Perhaps they are starting to catch on: regulate stuff you want to discourage and don’t regulate stuff you want to encourage. We’ll know we’ve crossed a threshold when they figure out that government trying to pick losers and winners is a no win proposition.

  2. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Personally, I think a helmet gives me some protection if I were to fall or God-forbid get into a crash. Do I think they should be required for adults? I actually lean toward yes on that. I find myself even shaking my head when I see motorcyclists not wearing a helmet. When you are on on bike, you don’t have metal surrounding you, like a car so you need something to protect something as important as your head.

    • Scott
      Scott says:

      But statistics show that riding a bicycle is LESS dangerous than traveling in a car.

      If anyone should be required to wear helmets it’s the people in cars.

  3. Chris Otto
    Chris Otto says:

    freedom comes with a price. My family always wears helmets, but merely passing laws does not work. I rarely see any kids from Glenridge MS actually wearing helmets. Must Audubon kids only were them if told to. And if they do wear them, they either are not buckled or are not adjusted correctly. Either way they would not work in a crash.

  4. JT
    JT says:

    Dallas has compulsory helmet laws for bicycle riders, but Texas has no helmet law for motorcyclists. I feel stupid when I pull up beside a motorcyclist and the City of Dallas should too.

  5. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    What we really need are mandatory helmet laws for car drivers. The number of head injuries experienced by car drivers is quite shocking. They need helmets.

    And then we can keep adding on mandatory bits for car drivers until they look like the goalie in a hockey game. And don’t forget the intrusive law enforcement and heavy fines to make sure that car drivers actually wear all the stuff.

    And since car driving leads to such a serious epidemic of obesity, we need mandatory daily supervised gym classes to ensure that they get proper exercise. We have computer technology that can keep track of attendance and automatically suspend the driver’s license of any car driver who fails to attend one of the mandatory daily supervised gym classes. This will result in a police officer coming around to confiscate the car. To get it back, the car driver much show a perfect record of 30 consecutive days of supervised gymn attendance. And pay for the car impound and storage fees.

    This is all, of course, for their own good. Car drivers should thank us for bringing in all these requirements. We are only thinking about what is best for them.

  6. Cleaver
    Cleaver says:

    I resumed cycling two years ago for the first time since childhood. Recently I stopped wearing a helmet. I found, as suggested upthread, that the helmet was making me feel that cycling was a highly dangerous activity, and so I felt fearful while riding. But I got through childhood without wearing a helmet, ever, and now that I’ve stopped wearing one as an adult, I feel safer because I feel more relaxed, and I feel more in control because I experience the bicycle as an extension of my body. I have also been finding safer alternatives for myself than the (mostly) inadequate bike lanes in my city, which are dangerous for all the well-known reasons. I “drive” my bike on low-traffic streets, but otherwise I ride on designated multiuse paths, on the paths of a beautiful cemetery near my house, or (horrors!) on the sidewalk (while attending to all the well-known risks), while always giving pedestrians the right of way. As a result, I now enjoy my rides, and I’m riding much more. Instead of feeling like I’m in a fight for my life, instead of subjecting myself to aggressive, ignorant motorists, I’ve made my ride an occasion for pleasure rather than fear. And in case anyone is wondering, yes, I have taken two bicycle-safety classes. I realize that my solution is not for everyone, but it’s working for me as a recreational cyclist (not a commuter).

  7. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    In Dallas, the mandatory helmet law was shown to be enforced in a racialy discriminatory maner- an excuse to do a stop and a pat down search.

    The law is not enforced anymore outside of orginised events, and then only by the officals of the event.

  8. Robert Anderson
    Robert Anderson says:

    When I wear a helmet, it sends a message to the motorists around me. That message runs something like this:

    “If you hit me, I’ll survive, because I’m wearing head protection. If you hit me, it’ll be your fault, because I’m cycling competently and lawfully. And since I will survive, I will COME AFTER YOU in court.”

    Powerful stuff!

  9. Brian Glover
    Brian Glover says:

    I’m having a strangely difficult time identifying the BMJ article on which the Telegraph article reports. Has anyone got a link?

Comments are closed.