Saturday, 30 April 2011

Brake, RoadPeace, and Cycle "Helmets"

Norman Baker, Minister for Cycling, has had to defend his decision to ride a bicycle without a "helmet", as he doesn't think that these polystyrene hats are of any use to him.

Oddly, rather than congratulate him on cycling, rather than driving around inside a dangerous tonne-and-a-bit of metal, "road safety charity" Brake said that they were "frustrated" about his lack of polystyrene hat. Their arguments are based on discredited and old research and they ignore other evidence - even the statements made by helmet manufacturers themselves. To their credit they do give advice about how to wear a helmet, something that really needs a lot more publicity given the number of people riding with loose-fitting and tilted back ones.

In comparison, the "national charity for road crash victims" RoadPeace, has a well-informed and fact-based policy on cycle helmets. They have clearly read the evidence for and against, and have decided that their policy should follow logic, and the policy of the CTC and the European Cyclists' Federation: cyclists can wear "helmets" if they like, but they should be aware that they provide only limited protection.

Cycle "Helmets" are in fact a dangerously misleading red-herring, perpetuated by mis-informed safety people and by the industry that makes a fortune from selling these cheap-to-make polystyrene hats at highly inflated prices. The real cause of danger to cyclists isn't cycling itself, it is sharing the roads heavy fast-moving motor vehicles.

Some people think that training cyclists to ride "defensively", to wear bright clothing, and to wear polystyrene hats will stop the deaths and injuries we see. But sadly this is wrong: even experienced cyclists wearing hats and high-viz are being killed and seriously injured on our roads. In fact training might make things worse, as experienced cyclists are more likely to ride on busy roads than novices are. No amount of cycle training and polystyrene will help if a car driver on a mobile phone fails to avoid you.

I've tried to appeal to Brake to look at all the evidence, including the actual tests that "helmets" have to survive to be certified. But sadly they continue to peddle their misleading advice, which can only lead to fewer cyclists, more motorists, and more deaths and injuries on the UK's roads.

I think the difference is this:

  • Brake want to increase safety


  • RoadPeace want to reduce danger.

I know which I prefer.

No comments: