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Olympic champion now says helmet wearing should be "personal discretion"...

Olympic cycling star Laura Trott has changed her mind on whether wearing cycle helmets should be a legal requirement. While she still thinks helmets prevent major injuries, the 21-year-old now thinks helmet use should be a matter of "personal discretion".

Speaking at the Olympic Velodrome at Lee Valley Velopark last week, Trott reiterated that her sister’s crash had convinced her of the benefits of helmets.

"I cycle a lot around roads and I would always wear a helmet," she told Rob Virtue of wharf.co.uk. "I've been out with my sister when she crashed and it just showed me how a helmet prevents major injuries.”

Emma Trott, who is two years older than her sister, was one of five British riders hit by a car in Belgium in 2010

But in a change from her previous comments Laura Trott added: "But it's also something that should be at your personal discretion. If you want to wear it, wear it, if you don't, then don't."

Last year, the Wiggle-Honda rider attracted vociferous criticism when she implied that cyclists sometimes have only themselves to blame should they get hit by a vehicle. “It’s not always the car’s fault,” she said.

At the time, Trott was speaking in her role as one of Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s cycling ambassadors.

“It should be a legal requirement to wear a helmet,” she said. “So many lives have been saved by them and it saved my sister’s life.”

However, Boris Johnson’s own cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan believes helmets have no proven benefits and refuses to wear one.

The benefits of helmet use is one of the most hotly contested topics in cycling. British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman recently called for the debate to be put to bed as it had become a distraction from the bigger issues of making cycling safer by building segregated infrastructure and improving vehicle design.

In an interview with road.cc, Boardman said that helmet use was “not even in the top 10 of things you need to do to keep cycling safe or more widely, save the most lives.”

Studies based on A&E admissions often conclude that helmets are effective at preventing head injury. But this effect vanishes when data from larger groups of cyclists are examined.

In 2005, researcher PJ Hewson analysed police STATS19 data on traffic collisions and concluded: “There is no evidence that cycle helmets reduce the overall cyclist injury burden at the population level in the UK when data on road casualties is examined.”

 

In a 2006 paper for the British Medical Journal, researcher Dorre Robinson, also working with whole-population data for injury rates concluded that there was no clear evidence of the effectiveness of making helmets compulsory.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

101 comments

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Yennings [237 posts] 1 year ago
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Light the blue touchpaper and retire...

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cat1commuter [1418 posts] 1 year ago
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Helmet didn't prevent my friend from sustaining major injuries. Depressed fracture of cheek bone and traumatic brain injury.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 1 year ago
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this girl's an idiot imo

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mrmo [2013 posts] 1 year ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

this girl's an idiot imo

Why might I ask?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. it may be wrong, but that doesn't mean you can't have it.

Sooner people stop focusing on helmets and start asking why cyclists are getting hit by cars the better! Might be me, I might be odd, but i'd rather not find out how effective or ineffective a helmet is if I get hit by a car.

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THEONETHATROWS [7 posts] 1 year ago
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speaking from personal experience, my opinion is helmets should be compulsory, however everyone should have their own opinion. if it wasn't for a helmet my brother would probably not have survived his crash, the whole of the back of the helmet was destroyed but he only came away with a concussion. whilst not everyone wears one i strongly urge you to do so

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mrmo [2013 posts] 1 year ago
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THEONETHATROWS wrote:

speaking from personal experience, my opinion is helmets should be compulsory, however everyone should have their own opinion. if it wasn't for a helmet my brother would probably not have survived his crash, the whole of the back of the helmet was destroyed but he only came away with a concussion. whilst not everyone wears one i strongly urge you to do so

May I ask why your brother crashed? a "racing" incident or hit by a car?

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ped [207 posts] 1 year ago
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Personal choice wins for sure. I choose to wear one.

For the myriad 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured' stories I've yet to see a single 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured, wished they hadn't been wearing a helmet' one.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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ped wrote:

Personal choice wins for sure. I choose to wear one.

For the myriad 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured' stories I've yet to see a single 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured, wished they hadn't been wearing a helmet' one.

Wasn't there a link that showed in some cases helmets caused other fatal injuries, something to do with increased friction and causing necks to twist etc?

This reads like some very bad science, so hopefully somebody a tad more clued up than me will dig out the relevant information.

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shay cycles [315 posts] 1 year ago
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Laura Trott is entitled to hold whatever views she likes and we can choose to either agree or not.

She is also entitled to change those views. In fact doing shows that she is able to consider things and not simply stick rigidly to what she previously thought.

I can't see any justification for calling her an "idiot" on this basis.

Wouldn't it be so much nicer if people behaved like grown-ups?

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mrfree [71 posts] 1 year ago
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Until there is solid evidence and a scientific consensus that compulsory helmet use overall has more health benefits than the status quo, there should be no law enforcing it.

And why, is it considered 'idiotic' choosing to not wear a helmet? I know a lot of intelligent people who choose not to wear a helmet. Probably for the same reason they choose not to wear a full body armour suit. Or choose not to stay inside for fear of pianos falling on them.

There's a limit to precautionary measures: the very act of living on Earth carries a risk. There are far, FAR better ways to improve your safety on the road, than wearing a helmet (the best being approved cycle training).

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caprone-di-montagne [3 posts] 1 year ago
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I agree totally with Laura Trott, it should be through personal discretion. I feel that one should choose to wear a helmet, as I do without exception. However, as for making it a legal requirement to wear a helmet I am not so sure about. We are trying in this country to promote cycling as a alternative mode of transport, the introduction of compulsory head gear for cyclists has proved to decrease cycling numbers in countries where helmets have been made compulsory. I believe that everyone should wear a helmet through choice and common sense, however, forcing cyclist to wear helmets will in my opinion only decrease cyclist numbers in a time when we are trying to encourage an increase in cycling.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 1 year ago
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Why can she not have an opinion ? you lot slate her and now under pressure she has backed down, I find it all sad to be honest.

You lot want personal choice, great have it, in fact you have it, its not a legal requirement, but for christ sake stop having a go at somebody because their personal choice is to say you should be wearing one.

You have your opinion, she has (or had) hers, to call her an idiot because she doesn't agree with your views is appalling.

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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ped wrote:

Personal choice wins for sure. I choose to wear one.

For the myriad 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured' stories I've yet to see a single 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured, wished they hadn't been wearing a helmet' one.

I once had a lazy, slow fall warming up for an MTB event, and was completely surprised to smack my head.

I was wearing a helmet and ended up with a concussion. I am as adamant as those that say a helmet saved their life, that the only reason I banged my head on that occasion was because I'd significantly increased its volume by putting a great big helmet on it.

Now, I may be completely wrong in this opinion, the reality is that no one knows for sure, but I still have it... I just wanted to share with you, as given the choice, however rightly or wrongly, given the same circumstances, I'd have opted to try the crash sans helmet.

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JeevesBath [155 posts] 1 year ago
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farrell wrote:
ped wrote:

Personal choice wins for sure. I choose to wear one.

For the myriad 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured' stories I've yet to see a single 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured, wished they hadn't been wearing a helmet' one.

Wasn't there a link that showed in some cases helmets caused other fatal injuries, something to do with increased friction and causing necks to twist etc?

This reads like some very bad science, so hopefully somebody a tad more clued up than me will dig out the relevant information.

Given that every other sprint finish seems to involve a multiple pile up, I've yet to see any racer get a broken neck from wearing his helmet....

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Jimmy Ray Will [439 posts] 1 year ago
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But... in other news, good for Miss trott... having the ability to adapt a view for a more positive public perception.

Now, on to the important argument... how do we stop cyclists getting run down on our roads?

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jacknorell [942 posts] 1 year ago
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I wear a helmet, 95% percent of the time. Because sometimes I fall off, being a bit clumsy. And at times I've managed to whack my noggin into a branch or similar, so the helmet keeps my scalp attached.

For commuting, I also have the helmet cam on it.

I most certainly don't wear it because it'll help me when I get hit by a car at speed, a bus... or whatever else which would inflict massive traumatic crush injuries.

Helmets do not help (appreciably) in the majority of road traffic collisions that result in major injury. I've not seen any record of any accident where I believe the helmet (or lack of) made any difference with fatal accidents, as those tend to be people being run over.

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oozaveared [933 posts] 1 year ago
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Laura Trott is a nice lady and a great cyclist.

I'm not sure why her views on helmet wearing are any more informed than the average persons.

Helmets are useful in cycle racing. They may mitigate some low energy impacts between 50 and 100 joules of Kinetic energy. So if you are racing and therefore falling off amongst a load of pedals it may be of some use in stopping a head wound being more serious.

If you get hit by a car even a small one like a Smart Car and even at low speed say 10 mph. Then the impact energy is up round 7000 joules. Helmet completely useless.

That's just 10mph hit by a smart car.

As I have said before a helmet is not designed for nor has any chance of protecting you against vehicle impacts. You'll get just as much protection from a lucky rabbits foot in your saddle bag.

Nice lady though is Laura.

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caprone-di-montagne [3 posts] 1 year ago
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'Now, on to the important argument... how do we stop cyclists getting run down on our roads?'

Easy! or not so easy!

Increased public funding for cycle infrastructure for about a decade! Current funding is pitiful considering the Government has pledged £500 million for all of Britain over the next 3 years. In reality, this figure should equate to around £10 per head, so £10 x 60 million people in Britain = £600 million per annum for the next ten years should see us on the right track (excuse the pun).

Funding needs to be combined with a long term vision or strategy say approximately a 20 - 25 year policy. Politicians go for big ticket ideas, something they can hang their hat on, so therefore cycling needs to be packaged up to look like a big project.

That is the general consensus among experts. I am writing my dissertation on this subject so have spoke to a number of people on this issue.

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pjclinch [85 posts] 1 year ago
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My opinion of Trottie has just gone up several notches  1

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adamthekiwi [95 posts] 1 year ago
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I'll add to the "wouldn't have been injured if I hadn't had a helmet" statistics, just for ped's benefit, since he's never heard them before. I went down on my right side after losing the front wheel on a wet roundabout. I came down mostly on my right shoulder, then my helmet struck the tarmac - the resulting rotation drove the right side of my face into the ground and I suffered considerable grazing and a couple of big cuts on my right cheek, nose and front of my chin, along with a chipped tooth. The helmet was lightly damaged on the right side and the peak snapped off.

I reckon that (as unprovable a supposition as Jimmy Ray Will's), had I not been wearing the helmet that day (and my head had therefore been lighter by a few hundred grams and smaller by about 3 cm) I'd have still injured my shoulder and hip, but my head would not have struck the ground - and I wouldn't have spent 3 weeks looking like an extra from a disaster movie. If I could go back, knowing that I'd still take that corner too fast would still go down, I'd forego the helmet.

As it happens, I mostly wear a helmet again now, having ridden without one for several years. There are several reasons: *I* think, with no statistical backup, that the accident I had is roughly as likely as an accident where a helmet would help (so it becomes a coin-toss); I got used to wearing one to butt branches out of the way on the mountain bike (one genuinely valid use for helmets); it makes my wife happier (based on a similarly non-statistical approach); it's useful for mounting my camera (another genuinely valid use for helmets). None of these reasons are good reasons for anyone else to wear a helmet, so I'll vocally support everyone's choice to decide for themselves.

I should note that I've come off my bike on quite a lot of occasions - particularly the mountain bike (my riding style is a triumph of enthusiasm and momentum over skill). I can only think of one other time where I've hit my head. Did the helmet help there? Who can tell? The helmet did not seem to be badly damaged and I wasn't at all - perhaps it saved my life.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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JeevesBath wrote:
farrell wrote:
ped wrote:

Personal choice wins for sure. I choose to wear one.

For the myriad 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured' stories I've yet to see a single 'mate was wearing a helmet, had a crash, still got injured, wished they hadn't been wearing a helmet' one.

Wasn't there a link that showed in some cases helmets caused other fatal injuries, something to do with increased friction and causing necks to twist etc?

This reads like some very bad science, so hopefully somebody a tad more clued up than me will dig out the relevant information.

Given that every other sprint finish seems to involve a multiple pile up, I've yet to see any racer get a broken neck from wearing his helmet....

I have never been involved in a bunch sprint pile up on my way to the shops or to work.

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tombourne [21 posts] 1 year ago
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As far as I'm concerned Laura Trott can change her mind as many times as she likes (resists temptation to use obvious emoji)

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tombourne [21 posts] 1 year ago
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As far as I'm concerned Laura Trott can change her mind as many times as she likes (resists temptation to use obvious emoji)

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Quince [382 posts] 1 year ago
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I like it when people change their opinions. It reminds you that there may actually be some point in debate.

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THEONETHATROWS [7 posts] 1 year ago
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We were both coming down a hill, think we hit about 60-70 kph, and just before the bottom there was a small speed bump, we both hit it and he just flipped. the speed bump in question was virtually invisible because of shadows and the light. i should point out that my brothers been riding longer than me and is very experienced so how he flipped is beyond me

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KiwiMike [1073 posts] 1 year ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

this girl's an idiot imo

I'd come up with a witty repost to your unsubstantiated, unpleasant statement that emphasised the critical need to focus on evidence-based population-level science whilst maintaining a sense of personal responsibility and appreciation for confounding factors influencing takeup (or lack thereof) of utility cycling for the common good, but can't be arsed.

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THEONETHATROWS [7 posts] 1 year ago
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mrmo wrote:
THEONETHATROWS wrote:

speaking from personal experience, my opinion is helmets should be compulsory, however everyone should have their own opinion. if it wasn't for a helmet my brother would probably not have survived his crash, the whole of the back of the helmet was destroyed but he only came away with a concussion. whilst not everyone wears one i strongly urge you to do so

May I ask why your brother crashed? a "racing" incident or hit by a car?

We were both coming down a hill, think we hit about 60-70 kph, and just before the bottom there was a small speed bump, we both hit it and he just flipped. the speed bump in question was virtually invisible because of shadows and the light. i should point out that my brothers been riding longer than me and is very experienced so how he flipped is beyond me

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American tifosi [38 posts] 1 year ago
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In the States, some helmet laws are compulsory for certain age groups. Additionally, in order to ride w/o a helmet on motorcycles in some States, you must show proof of insurance that would cover your medical expenses if injured.
This is done to protect the public from having to pay for your care. Seems fair to make the rider bear the responsibility for their own actions. It does not however, alleviate another's actions from causing your injuries. To each his/her own.

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mrmo [2013 posts] 1 year ago
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THEONETHATROWS wrote:
mrmo wrote:
THEONETHATROWS wrote:

speaking from personal experience, my opinion is helmets should be compulsory, however everyone should have their own opinion. if it wasn't for a helmet my brother would probably not have survived his crash, the whole of the back of the helmet was destroyed but he only came away with a concussion. whilst not everyone wears one i strongly urge you to do so

May I ask why your brother crashed? a "racing" incident or hit by a car?

We were both coming down a hill, think we hit about 60-70 kph, and just before the bottom there was a small speed bump, we both hit it and he just flipped. the speed bump in question was virtually invisible because of shadows and the light. i should point out that my brothers been riding longer than me and is very experienced so how he flipped is beyond me

Thanks, what you are describing is for better want of a term a racing accident. A million miles from some riding into town to do the shopping on a "fiet". Is what is appropriate to one valid for the other? I would say no. Best parallel, do you expect drivers to wear flameproof overalls to drive to work?

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sanderville [314 posts] 1 year ago
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Personal opinions should be held at personal discretion.

I wear a helmet, but I don't care if you don't.

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