Bicycle helmets save lives and should be mandatory

Today I was reading a book about 1980s cycling in Europe and it struck me how strange it seemed that so few of the cyclists were wearing helmets.

Actually, none of the cyclists were wearing helmets, save for a few with those leather strip head covers that I remember as hopelessly uncomfortable and utterly unsafe. But it also seemed strange to me how many photos there were of racing cyclists with blood streaming from their heads after crashes. This isn’t something you see as frequently nowadays as helmets are a mandatory part of cycling and cycle racing.

There is no doubt in my mind helmets are a huge safety aid and have protected many people, me included on many occasions, from far more serious injuries in accidents than would otherwise be the case.

Mandatory helmet laws are to me, like seat belt laws – they might be bothersome to some but they save lives. More people are alive today because they were wearing helmets while falling/being knocked off bicycles.

And I want mandatory bicycle helmet laws to stay.

That’s why I am a little concerned to see in this week’s The Age a report about the beginnings of a campaign to remove the requirement for cyclists to wear helmets while riding their bicycles. The Age story is here.

Many cyclists will sacrifice comfort to look and feel good while riding and there’s really nothing wrong with striving to look good while pedaling about the place. But this should not go so far as to compromise safely as will happen if folk start riding helmet-less. Please let me know your views – but remember its the law to wear a helmet while riding your bike so please do!

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