Poll shows cyclists don’t see helmets as a priority

10.51 | 26 April 2011 | | 7 comments

More than 10% of cyclists would give up cycling if helmets were made compulsory, and most don’t consider wearing a helmet to be a safety priority, according to a poll by the IAM.

The poll, which surveyed more than 4,000 people, also found that 20% of respondents think helmets should be made compulsory, while 30% would simply continue to cycle without a helmet even if that was the case.

While 60% of cyclists surveyed already wear a helmet, they were not seen as a priority compared to conspicuous clothing and lights. Almost 60% thought that wearing a cycle helmet should be a personal decision: a view shared by Norman Baker, the transport minister, who recently caused controversy by describing his decision to not wear a helmet as his ‘libertarian right’.

Duncan Pickering, IAM cycling manager, said: “One in 10 cyclists being prepared to give up cycling shows how controversial compulsory helmets would be. But generally people are not anti-helmet; they see it as an issue of choice.

“Ultimately fewer than 10% voted that they didn’t think wearing a cycle helmet was beneficial at all, so if cyclists feel safer wearing one it makes sense to do so. But cyclists can improve their safety and confidence by training.”

For more information contact the IAM press office on 020 8996 9777.


Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    If you check ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain’ you will see that pedestrians suffer a higher percentage of head injuries than cyclists.

    Should all pedestrians be forced by law to wear helmets?

    I think it should be a matter of personal choice.

    Adam, Hants
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Ask James Cracknel what he thinks about wearing a helmet?

    Cycling without a helmet is surely as risky as driving without your seatbelt and therefore should be enforced/mandatory? (Mark Lovibond comment agreed).

    A very close friend of ours came off his bike in 2009 (an unconfirmed collision with another vehicle!) and he spent 6 weeks in intensive care after the air ambulance recovered him from the roadside – his family went to hell and back with worry at the time because he occasionally ‘chose’ not to wear a helmet. The family had an agonising wait to find out if on this occasion he was wearing his helmet and the relief they felt when they knew he had was just immense…..suffice to say the medical staff and his family and he also knows that if he had not worn his helmet that day he would have died at the scene! He is now fit and well and cycling again – in fact to mark his recovery he took part in the McMillan Cancer Alps Cycle Challenge in 2010 with my partner as his support rider (just in case!)…..and yes he and my partner ALWAYS wear a helmet!

    Any “Road Safety Minister” who thinks it is ‘cool’ or ‘OK’ for a cyclist not to wear a helmet (personal choice?) needs to re-visit their JD?…….Clue in the Title me thinks!!

    Susan, Warwickshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I’m with the minister on this one. Cycle helmets may well do all the good things people say they do to prevent or minimize injury BUT I don’t want to wear one. Don’t bother stacking up the arguments for and against as they have all been rehearsed before. It is simply a matter of choice. If they become compulsory I probably still won’t wear one, so the real issue is: if they become compulsory, will anyone seriously expect widespread enforcement – I think not. p.s. I ride as many miles off road as on road. Is any one going to chase me across the Brecon Beacons?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Common sense should show that if you bang your head against a brick wall it will hurt, if you do it wearing a cycle helmet, less damage.
    One of my team of accredited Bikeability cycle trainers was taken out on a roundabout by a driver who decided she was not there. She sustained a broken elbow and spent sometime in hospital. It was only when she was discharged that she had to chance to examine her helmet and found a massive fracture from one side across the crown and down the other side. I think that it is a sensible conclusion that had the helmet not been on her head the fracture would have been sustained by her skull.
    Excuse the pun but to my mind it is a ‘no brainer’ as they say.

    Alan Hale, South Gloucestershire Council Road Safety Team
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I fully support Honor’s take on this. Whilst cycling to work 5 weeks ago as of yesterday I came off my push bike on some diesel,(a real menace for cyclists and motorcyclists), resulting in a broken collar bone and mild concussion from taking a direct hit on the road. Helmet trashed but head OK (well, debatable!). The argument that it is the rider’s risk and the rider’s choice misses the point that in every tragedy there are family, friends and loved ones not to mention NHS staff and treatment ongoing social care, loss to the economy etc. I think there should be a high profile campaign at national level to secure voluntary wearing with compulsion waiting in the wings should it be necessary. Unfortunately as Mike Penning, Minister for Cycle Safety, appears to take the rose tinted libertarian view then I doubt this will happen.

    David Short, Calderdale Road Safety Team
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Personally, if I am out on my bike without my helmet it is uncomfortable (a bit like driving without a seatbelt on) I feel surprisingly vulnerable….

    Mark Lovibond – Portsmouth
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I wonder what the opinion polls among drivers and car passengers told us about wearing seatbelts, before they were made compulsory. I seem to recall a similar response with regard to motorcycle helmets and an even bigger furore about the breathalyser – all now accepted as routine in every day life, with very significant reductions in casualties and severity of injuries as a result. I think cycle helmets would follow the same route. It would be good if the proponents of cycle helmets provided the cyclist head injury statistics, including that as against how many cyclists there are/per mile cycled as well, then people can see for themselves whether or not compulsory helmet wearing for adults is proportionate to the level of risk and, therefore, to be made compulsory or not.
    As regards children (say under 14 years)I think this should be compulsory because they are less experienced, more likely to make mistakes and come off their bike and this would be reasonable protection for young heads – bringing cycling into line with horse riding in this respect.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.