The quotes attributed to Bowles – chief executive officer of Madison, distributor of Giro helmets – were emailed to BikeBiz.com in April, during the last flaring up of the helmet debate.
Bowles was said to be one of the few industry executives in the British bike trade to support helmet compulsion.
In April, he wrote: "Speaking on behalf of Madison, I am happy to say that the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets on road would be a step forward in the process of advancing our cause as an industry."
However, he now writes to say that his views "are not necessarily shared by all my colleagues at Madison" and that he’s only in favour of helmet compulsion for children.
Here’s his new statement in full:
Further to the various comments, misquotations and articles read on this subject of late, I feel compelled to reply.
As a parent who has had the experience and relief of seeing his son at the age of 9 crash his bike when cycling on one of Britain’s busy roads and see his helmet shatter, but safely protect his skull, I can only endorse the use of cycle helmets. They work! The point made about my views being profit driven is illogical. If the anti compulsory helmet lobby believes that wearing helmets will reduce cycling activity then surely the market will shrink and how can that be good for business? The best information I have received on the impact of compulsory wearing of cycling helmets in certain US states is that it had no long term detrimental affect on the bicycle industry. Who are we to believe? As an industry I believe we have a responsibility to ensure that all aspects of cycling are as safe as possible (bikes we sell, bikes we service, protective wear for our end users and indeed the support we give to campaigning groups who are lobbying for safer cycling conditions around the country.) In my personal opinion, we have a responsibility to safeguard the lives of cyclists in whatever way we can. In this regard, Madison has been consistent in its actions and support of its customers and the many worthwhile charity and campaigning groups over a great many years and will continue to be so. For the record; Do I think it is necessary and responsible for cyclists under the age of 18 to wear helmets when cycling on Britain’s busy and dangerous roads? YES. Do I think that improved road safety statistics for cyclists will promote cycling in the long term? YES. Do I think that everyone cycling on Britain’s roads should where a helmet for protection? YES Do I think that cyclists should be forced to wear helmets when cycling off road e.g. trails, parks, canal paths etc? NO Should the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets apply to all road users? In my personal opinion it would be YES for under 18s and let the industry / cycling fraternity decide whats best for the majority. Let the debate begin!
One last point; whatever my views, they are MY views and are not necessarily shared by all my colleagues at Madison. This is a contentious subject and everyone has his or her own opinion. Time everyone respected the fact that their view is not the only view.
HOWARD PEEL’S BOYCOTT CALL:
"I for one will not be buying any Giro product and will avoid buying other madison imported products as well wherever I can. I would urge all other cyclists concerned about the misguided emphasis on the wearing of polystyrene hats (which are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard should you be hit by a motor vehicle travelling at speed) to do likewise."
In the US, an aggrieved anti-compulsion campaigner created a ‘Boycott Bell’ website.
This claims the long-standing helmet maker has been waging a "campaign of terror" in promoting helmets. On the advert pictured on the site’s home-page, Bell uses the same set of statistics used by helmet compulsionists around the world but these statistics come from a "flawed study", say anti-compulsionists.
On his website, helmet researcher Guy Chapman says of this study:
"The granddaddy of all helmet studies…was produced in 1989 by Thompson, Rivara and Thompson. Later re-analysis of the raw data showed some anomalies: although they claimed that they had controlled for differences between their "case" group of mainly solo urban poor road cyclists and their "control" group of predominantly white middle-class families riding on off-road trails, Dorothy Robinson, a statistician from Australia, showed from their data that you could equally show that helmets had prevented 75% of broken legs. The authors have since published revised, lower estimates, but the 85% and 88% figures you see quoted everywhere are from the original 1989 study. Anyone using those figures should know better!"