The press release is repeated in full below but, first, here are two websites packed with info. One is pro-helmet-compulsion website from America; the other is an anti-helmet compulsion website from Australia.
October 31 2002
Helmet law ‘would stop people cycling’
National cyclists’ organisation CTC has condemned pro-helmet campaigners
who have at last admitted that they want to outlaw cyclists who ride
At a recent dinner, Angie Lee, founder of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative
Trust (BHIT), told the cycle trade website BikeBiz that she wanted a
mandatory helmet law firstly for under-12s, then for 12-16-year-olds and
later, perhaps, even adults.
CTC, the UK’s largest cycling organisation, says a law making helmet
wearing mandatory would significantly reduce health because many people
would stop cycling altogether.
Roger Geffen, CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Manager said: "The BHIT has at
last come clean and admitted that legislation is its aim. But helmet
wearing is a significant deterrent and compulsion would stop thousands
of people cycling. It would remove all the health benefits they gain
from cycling and reduce the chances of reaching government targets for
increasing the number of journeys by bike.
"In countries with large numbers of cyclists, like the Netherlands,
helmet-wearing is almost unheard of. Legislation is a sticking-plaster
solution and ignores the cause of the wound. It is blaming the victim
for the failure to improve road safety."
When helmets were made compulsory in Australia, New Zealand and parts of
Canada and the USA, the number of cyclists fell considerably. Neither
the incidence nor the severity of head injuries declined however, when
the drop in the number of cyclists was taken into account.
The British Medical Association opposes moves to enforce helmet wearing
believing that the health benefits from cycling outweigh the decline in
health that would result if thousands of people stopped cycling
* The government wants to increase cycling levels from two to eight per
cent of journeys by 2012.
* Regular cyclists typically enjoy a fitness level equivalent to people
ten years younger. (Sharp, On your bike, 1990)
* It takes 3,700 years of average cycling to suffer a serious injury,
let alone one to the head or one that might be mitigated by a helmet
(Department for Transport, Transport Statistics Great Britain, 2001).
* Cyclists account for less than one per cent of head injury admissions
to hospital. There are 4.8 times more car occupants who die of head
injuries than cyclists, 4.6 times more pedestrians and 1.5 times more
motorcyclists (Thornhill et al, British Medical Journal, 2000; Mayer
Hillman, Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, 1993).
* The countries with the lowest risk of any injury when cycling are
those where helmet use is minimal (eg the Netherlands). The most
effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury when cycling is to
increase the number of people who cycle (Wardlaw, M, Cycle Campaign
Network, 2001, Leden et al, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2000).
* Helmet use in the UK has risen from close to zero to 16 per cent from
1985 to date but there has been no detectable change in trends for
fatalities, serious injuries or the average severity of injury to
cyclists (DfT, 2001)
* Helmet use in London has increased from zero to 50 per cent since
1985. The average severity of injuries has also increased both
absolutely and relative to pedestrians (Transport for London, Pedal
Cyclists Casualties in Greater London, 1999).
* From 1991 to 2001, helmet use in USA increased from 18 per cent to 50
per cent but cycle use declined by 21 per cent. Those who continued to
cycle in 2001 were 51 per cent more likely to suffer head injury than in
1991 (US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2001).
* Helmet laws caused cycling levels to drop by 30 per cent in Australia
while head injuries fell by only 11 per cent. The injury risk for those
who continue to cycle has risen and in some parts of Australia, injury
rates are at an all time high (Australian Road Accident Prevention
Research Unit, 1999).