Friday 24 November 2017

Mandatory cycle helmets are a bad idea

The British government is considering importing another foolish idea from Australia. From The Times...

Cyclists could be made to wear helmets for the first time in a review of bike safety.

A government consultation in the new year will consider whether helmets and high-visibility vests should be mandatory on British roads, the transport minister Jesse Norman said.

There are several problems with this, as I said in Killjoys...

Helmets certainly reduce the risk of serious head injury if the cyclist is in an accident, but it has been suggested that cyclists take more risks when wearing a helmet and motorists drive closer to those who are wearing them. This is difficult to prove either way, but there is no doubt that laws mandating cycle helmets reduce the number of cyclists on the road because not all bicycle-owners are prepared to buy or wear one

The Times article mentions that the Australian ban on cycling without a helmet has led to a reduction on the number of cyclists on the road. Mexico City scrapped a similar law in 2010 for this reason. It effectively deters people from using their bikes.

There is also the question of what would happen to bike sharing schemes such as London's 'Boris Bikes'. Would people be expected to carry a cycle helmet (and a high-vis jacket!) on the off-chance that they might want to hire a bike?

Compulsory cycle helmets are a bad idea for both individual freedom and 'public health'. It should be taken no further - and, judging by this tweet from the transport minister, it won't...

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