Helmets should be compulsory for cyclists – Geraint Thomas

11.33 | 28 August 2018 | | 17 comments

Image: TfL

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas has called for helmets to be made compulsory for all cyclists in the UK.

Speaking to the Sunday Times Magazine – and reported by BBC News – the Team Sky rider says he ‘always’ wears a helmet, and feels others should do the same.

He said: “I’ve put on a helmet more times that I’ve buckled a seatbelt.”

While there is no law that requires cyclists to wear helmets, the Highway Code recommends their use.

In 2017, the Government said it would consider changing the law to force helmet usage, but various bodies – such as Cycling UK – are against such a move.

Cycling UK believes there is ‘no justification for making helmet-wearing compulsory’, and argues it could ‘undermine levels of cycle use’. The charity adds the effectiveness of helmets is ‘far from clear’.

Chris Boardman, the former professional cyclist and current Greater Manchester commissioner for walking and cycling, has also previously stated his opposition to a law change.

However, Thomas argues the development of helmet design in recent years now means there is ‘no reason not to’ wear one.

During the interview, the 32-year-old called on cyclists and drivers to ‘share the road’, rather than seeing each other as ‘enemies’.

The Welshman also revealed that, apart from races, he had never ridden a bike in London – saying “I’ve watched from a taxi and it does seem a bit crazy.”



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    Alan (and anyone else who supports compulsory helmet wearing for cyclists), would you also support compulsory helmets for pedestrians, and even for drivers – and if not, why for one and not the other?

    Charles, England
    Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

    I absolutely agree compulsory helmet wearing for cyclists using the highway and compulsory training and testing for anyone wanting to use the highway also a minimum third party insurance. A bicycle can do a lot of damage to soft tissue and others property.

    Alan Collins, Luton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (16)

    To be frank this is old news. Twitter lit-up and Thomas explained that he was not campaigning. It became more nuanced and informed. I expect he’s been offered media training. It’s a big change for him.
    It is important to register that Thomas is a phenomenal athlete and now is famous. In the simple words of David Miller (bike racer turned TdeF commentator): Geraint, you’ve got one job, one job only’.

    Peter Treadgold, London
    Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

    Are cyclists who have chosen to wear helmets voluntarily, less at risk because they are also, by nature perhaps, more safety conscious and therefore less prone to spills anyway or might it give them a false sense of security and have the opposite effect I wonder?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

    Richard, a lot depends on which documents/papers/websites one reads. As regards head injuries in the New south Wales Province review of 2016 it was established that by wearing helmets there was a significant reduction of some 69% for serious head injuries and some 65% reduction in fatal head injuries. In a further publication about the story that in Australia the imposition of helmets upon the cycling public dramatically reduced the number of cyclists was also refuted

    I am sure this debate will go on for some time and as stated by R.Craven it will probably end up with a law being passed forcing those that don’t wear helmets to wear them. Possibly that will only be a minority as with the law change for motorcycles helmets about 90 % were already wearing them by the time the law came into being.

    I do agree that there are many other more serious issues that need to be looked at and changed in order to make cycling safer but they are issues that require a greater political debate, substantial finances and a change in attitude.

    I don’t in the least bit think that this matter is sidelining or overcoming that debate at all.

    Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

    This is a debate that will go on until resolved eventually. I have been through it all before and read many of the arguments for and against, It was exactly the same in the 1960/70’s for compulsory helmets for motorcyclists and now history is repeating itself. Nothing new at all.

    Charged with a responsibility to save lives and reduce accidents, deaths and injuries most governments will err on the side of safety and eventually go with creating new helmet laws.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (7)

    Somewhat disingenuous dismissing of bias here. The banner headline gives an individuals view ( and an individual with no special knowledge of transport cycling as opposed to racing ) only much later to point out that people with expertise in the field disagree.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

    @ M Worthington
    “I repeat….. it seems that one is concerned for cyclists safety and says so unreservedly and the other appears to be ambivalent or completely against this safety issue. He has been given and holds a responsible position as a commissioner charged with the responsibility for those cycling and walking. I presume that includes their safety and other issues.”

    You don’t name the people you refer to, but I’m guessing that you think Chris Boardman is against helmets, and that Geraint Thomas is for them. If you had read Boardman’s comments in full, you would have found out that he, when a professional cyclist, was of the same opinion as Thomas, but since he retired and has looked at the evidence, he now realises that he was mistaken, and helmets are irrelevant to the safety of cyclists.

    Nowhere with a helmet law or massive rise in helmet wearing after a propaganda campaign, can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, and the opposite would appear to be more likely to be true. In Australia and New Zealand when they introduced their helmet law, cycling rates plummeted, but the death rate of cyclists fell by less, so cycling became more dangerous, not safer.

    All the long term, large scale, scientific, reliable data shows that cycle helmets do not make cycling safer, and presumably, this is the evidence that Boardman looked at, and that Thomas is unaware of. You can look at it to cyclehelmets.org
    And this https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/8/28/17789510/bike-cycling-netherlands-dutch-infrastructure

    Cycle helmets, like the lottery, are a tax on gullibility.

    Richard Burton, Bristol
    Agree (18) | Disagree (7)

    M. Worthington

    I am afraid that you are wrong again. See this article from a year after his mother’s death:-


    It references Chris Boardman’s message as follows :-

    “The last 12 months have been tough. I’ve seen my mum in a dozen places: shopping on the village, in our garden smelling flowers and smiling at her new grandson. I’ve even seen her at The Tour, riding along a lane enjoying the countryside. It was a year ago this weekend that my mother was killed.

    It’s been heart wrenching watching my dad try to come to terms with the absence of his soulmate. We’ve all tried to carry on living ‘a normal life’ it’s what my mum would have wanted. But it doesn’t feel normal.

    Whether intentional aggression of inattentiveness, road crime, because that’s what it is, isn’t taken seriously.

    A year on, there has still not been a decision on whether to even prosecute the man who killed my mother. A year.

    I originally didn’t care what happened to the driver, it would change nothing for us and would we really want to ruin another life? But if our justice system doesn’t take road crime seriously, then someone will needlessly go through exactly what my father is experiencing now.

    Killing, injuring or even threatening someone with a knife is not accepted, do the same with a car and it often is. And it’s wrong.”

    The trial for causing death by dangerous driving is scheduled for 17th Dec 2018.

    It would have been simple for you to google “Chris Boardman mother” and find the article above before writing your last comment. The fact that you couldn’t be bothered to do so reflects on your “insensitivity” rather than mine.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (3) | Disagree (7)

    I repeat….. it seems that one is concerned for cyclists safety and says so unreservedly and the other appears to be ambivalent or completely against this safety issue. He has been given and holds a responsible position as a commissioner charged with the responsibility for those cycling and walking. I presume that includes their safety and other issues. However I can now see and understand where you are coming from Rod.

    The fact that he suffered a bereavement is not relevant to this matter. Although I can sympathise with his loss it still does’t alter his stance or mine. That said it was you who mentioned it and it is you who are being insensitive to use it to benefit your own position and/or argument. I am sure that he would not use it as such to support his position and therefore his bereavement is a private matter and not one to publicised by you for your benefit or gain.

    You can have your contempt back as well.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (11)

    To M. Worthington

    To say of Geraint Thomas and Chris Boardman “To my mind one is understanding and concerned about cyclists safety and the other well doesn’t appear to be right bothered by it. I know where my support lies.”

    You are either oblivious to the fact that Chris Boardman’s mother was killed on the road whilst cycling in 2016 or contemptible in your insensitivity. Boardman is a champion for cycle safety.

    Shame on you.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (25) | Disagree (6)

    No, I just read the headline, as you do.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (5)

    Yes… Pat, I am sure that many road cycling professionals would have preferred him to keep quiet about it. Plus those that have a vested financial interest in cycling.

    When motorcyclists were required to wear helmets then the police did do something about it as it was and still is extremely obvious.A simple fixed penalty and maybe £60 fine when a helmet cost half of that would work for me.

    To my mind if one wanted to use a bike they will do so and if required to fork out up to £ 30.00 then it wont deter many at all but it will make cycling so much safer for all. For a start it can help to create an understanding of vulnerability that some cyclists don’t appear to have.

    Further without a helmet where is a cyclists going to put his video camera and capture errant drivers? Surely that is the best place for improved vision of incidents.

    Agree (4) | Disagree (16)

    So we would have to accept and concede to the statements made by Chris Boardman who in the past appears to be somewhat ambivalent about the wearing of helmets but totally dismiss the comments of Geraint Thomas. Both have a similar sporting history but one is now a figurehead for cycling in G.M. So what. Is he any more important? I think not. They both have opinions and both are entitled to them, no matter how right or how wrong they may be.

    To my mind one is understanding and concerned about cyclists safety and the other well doesn’t appear to be right bothered by it. I know where my support lies.

    Once again the powers that be within the cycling fraternity want the freedom but not the responsibility, In this case towards the safety of their own.

    An argument similar to this raged in the 1960’/70’s about the wearing of helmets for motorcyclists. After it was done it was understood and accepted that it saved lives and reduced the degree of injury to the brain. Sometimes reducing the lifelong suffering for not only the motorcyclist but their families as well.

    The last think that anyone wants is more brain damaged loved ones.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (18)

    It is just a newsfeed of topical articles Ron, balance isn’t needed. That’s where the comments section comes in.

    Making cycle helmets compulsory would produce the biggest knock back from the community at large. Would probably wipe out much of the gains the pro-cycling lobby have made.

    Mr Thomas may be a great cyclist (I take the news word for it as I haven’t followed the Tour de france) but he is not a spokesman for cycling. I’m sure many cycling champions would have preferred him to have kept quiet.

    Anyway, who would enforce it? I don’t see it ever being a police priority.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (19) | Disagree (6)

    Ron: Did you miss the bit in the article which mentioned Chris Boardman and Cycling UK’s opposing views? (paras 5 – 7)

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (21) | Disagree (1)

    It is disappointing to see Road Safety GB give such prominence to the controversial comments of one individual without including comments from others with differing views.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (19)

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