Those well versed in the long running ‘should cyclists be forced to wear helmets’ debate will be aware of the heated controversy surrounding it – which makes it all the more provocative when a bike industry stalwart like Wiggle enters the fray in favour of laws forcing cyclists to wear helmets.
In a blog questioning whether such a law should be passed in the UK, the retailer said it would be worth seeing an ‘initial drop in cycling rates’ expected if wearing helmets became law.
A Twitter backlash has already begun, with cyclists pledging to switch their next online order to a rival retailer.
"With so much evidence to show that helmets save lives you would think that everyone would think that compulsory helmets are a good thing right? Wrong. There are people who are under the impression that legislation for compulsory helmets is an infringement of civil liberties. There are others who believe that such legislation would discourage people to cycle as was seen in Australia, and that this would lead to unhealthy lifestyles and an unhealthy country.
"In the early 90’s, Australia passed a law for compulsory helmets which saw cycling rates plummet, particularly in teenage girls who thought that helmets were not fashionable: in fact cycling rates in this group fell by around 90 per cent. But is this initial drop in cycling rates worth the risk to save hundreds of lives? I think so.
"When the talks of compulsory seatbelt laws started in the 70’s many complained on all of the same grounds, yet four decades on it has saved over 50,000 lives and is part of everyday life." Read the full Wiggle blog here.
The arguably ill-advised entrance into the helmet debate was prefaced with Bradley Wiggins’ apparent support for a campaign to make cycling helmets compulsory.
UPDATE: Wiggle has since wisely added the following disclaimer at the foot of the article: "EDITOR NOTE: This article was published on behalf of the Ryan Smith Foundation. Wiggle’s stance on the helmet debate remains neutral."
There’s more on the ‘compulsory helmets for cyclists’ topic here.