BBC claim not wearing a helmet is illegal

CTC invites members to urge BBC for a retraction – you could too

by Martin Thomas   June 25, 2010  

White cycle helmet

The CTC has picked up on an error in a BBC News report about the clampdown on poor road use in the Capital.

The report includes a reference to fines being issued for, among other things "...not wearing a helmet and using a mobile phone."

Transport for London and the Met Police have confirmed to the CTC that the BBC was wrong to claim that wearing a helmet is a legal requirement.

TfL has said it will be contacting the BBC but the CTC has invited its members to help make sure a retraction is broadcast by sharing their views. There’s no reason why readers shouldn’t do the same…

Chris Peck from the CTC told, “Leaving to one side for a moment the debate about whether it makes sense to wear a helmet, there’s still a common misconception that it’s illegal not to. There’s a lot of confusion around this issue and we’re constantly trying to educate people so when opportunities like this arise we try to engage our membership and other engaged cyclists to help spread the word.

“Of course it’s a shame that the retractions and corrections are never quite as prominent as the original mistakes…”

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Equivalent of 'very small print at the bottom of page 17' apology on the BBC London news this evening.

Done Nightrider 2013, 2014 and 2015 for Parkinson's UK. Next year Ride London

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [663 posts]
25th June 2010 - 18:49


Skippy......... Yawn

posted by BikerBob [116 posts]
25th June 2010 - 21:02


If Skippy has broken 'several' helmets I suggest he fits stabilisers.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1108 posts]
25th June 2010 - 21:45


Skippy doesn't oz also has the highest obesity rate?... maybe not enough people cycling?... maybe cos they have to wear helmets?

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
26th June 2010 - 12:10


I got hit by a driver once who drove straight onto a roundabout without checking if it was safe to do so. That was her free choice. Hooray for free choice and bollocks to the consequences.
Fortunately, on that occasion I was wearing a helmet.
So, instead of today being fed through a straw and having my arse wiped for me, I'm able to exercise my free choice and do those things for myself along with a whole host of other mundane, everyday tasks.

Nor, thanks to that helmet, do I have to listen to a succession of friends, family and carers bleating on about how the consequences of my self-centered, non-helmet wearing actions failed to take into account the plight of those left to to clean up the mess created by my uncaring 'it won't happen to me' attitude.
Needless to say, it's always someone else's fault and if you want to go around believing that 'fact', then you're perfectly entitled to do so.
After all, that's your free choice.

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [132 posts]
26th June 2010 - 14:42


I got hit by a car a year or two ago, he pulled out from a side road about 15 feet in front of me as I was travelling at around 20mph down the main road. I skidded into the side of him trashing my shoulder and my bike.

I wasn't wearing a helmet (and never do), and amazingly I appear to be able to eat without the aid of a feeding tube, and wipe my own arse! (why is it that those two statements are always used by the fanatical helmet brigade, does this ever even happen?).

The thing I find that links all the evangelical helmet botherers is the desire to be smug and insulting to others in equal measure, always quick to say I will be singled out by Darwins theory, or just simply state that I am an idiot...nice.

And yet again the question posed above about why single out cycling for the magical powers of a layer of polystyrene, when walking driving and mundane housework chores - as they account for more head injuries and deaths per year than cycling ever does - seems to never get answered.

Many cyclist seem to have bought into the extreme sport nature of cycling, rather than the relatively safe pursuit that it is.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [693 posts]
26th June 2010 - 17:46


Just to add that one RTA in 20 years of cycling, averaging around 10K miles per year is not too bad going...

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [693 posts]
26th June 2010 - 17:53


Those shops only selling £140 helmets?!??!

a) Where are they?
b) Surely if they only sell £140 helmets they are catering for probably very expensive road bikes and so their customers can easily afford a £140 helmet? I'd agree that if they were selling £200 rattlers then ONLY selling expensive helmets would be bad business, but it's not likely is it?

posted by David French [49 posts]
26th June 2010 - 20:45


So, because you got hit by a car and it caused little or no long-term damage, then the same would apply to anyone else suffering the same fate?

Here's the facts.
Sometime tomorrow, someone is going to get into a car, and at some point during that journey, they will be in collision with another road user.
They will not set out with the intention of being in a collision; they will not set out to injure or kill another human being.
But it WILL happen.
It will be totally unforeseen and totally unavoidable on the part of the person the driver collides with. And right there is the point where the 'free choice' argument falls down. That's the bit that's out of yours, mine or anyone else's control; whether it's the driver, other road users, the families of the injured, the emergency services or Mystic Meg.

Whether or not the injured party suffers lifestyle or life-threatening injuries is anyone's guess. But injuries can and do vary in severity, ranging all the way from minor scrapes to the sort that would leave the victim in need of 24-hour care.
That's the stark reality of it all; that's the bit that no amount of I'm-all-right-Jack wishful thinking can avoid or put to rights.

So YES, it does happen; people DO suffer injuries that completely change for the worse the course of their lives - and the lives of those around them.
YES, some of those injuries would be lessened in severity if a helmet had been worn by the victim.
And YES, people have set off in the morning on a bike ride that ended with them needing round-the-clock care and attention as a result of being struck by another road user.

Need a name?
Google 'Jocelyn Lovell'.
And no, he didn't have a fall in his kitchen.

neilwheel's picture

posted by neilwheel [132 posts]
26th June 2010 - 21:08


S'funny actually but these days few motorcyclists would get in a strop about wearing a helmet or not.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
26th June 2010 - 22:06


neilwheel wrote:
So, because you got hit by a car and it caused little or no long-term damage, then the same would apply to anyone else suffering the same fate?

I just thought that as we were trading meaningless anecdotal evidence, my true life scenario was as valid as yours...

Once again the pertinent question is avoided, at some point tomorrow someone will trip on a pavement and hit their head, causing possible serious injury, so why do we not care about them, but only for the people that have had a marketing campaign successfully target them, namely cyclists.

I have no issue with people wearing or not wearing helmets, my own position is one taken from my risk assessment of the situation, not some stubborn desire to defy the natural order of things. The holier than thou attitude, and same old insults on the other hand I do tend to take umbrage to.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [693 posts]
27th June 2010 - 0:15


Once again today i am down and banging the helmet on the ashphalt as i ride up a slope! Fact is i didn't change down correctly and wobbled when the chain skidded through and hit elbow and helmet as i hit the ground, helmet OK but elbow opened up and after 5 mins i continued but 3hrs later as i am driving the bike up another slope my current companion noticed i was squirting blood from that site!
i sent him on his way and started the journey back, no point looking for a doctor in the wilds of austria so arrived home in time to watch the match!
Certain "clown" decided that "Video Evidence" was unnecessary at this World Cup, of course that goal made no difference to me! I wanted Germany to win since the "Mexican clown" sent Cahill off! Like Italy's diving team effort i take satisfaction in reminding the Italians that they were beaten but for the bribed referee and i will enjoy treating the Germans to the same logic when they reach the final !
Cheating in my book has consequences beyond the event, and when i see the doc in the morning and he is silly enough to remark on Germany's win in either game i will remind him he is austrian and so unless it is 1939 then Germany 's success is questionable.
Tomorrow i was starting for Rotterdam but need to solve the medical problem first.
Capello looks likely to be the new Italian Manager now he has failed to advance the 3 lions further

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
27th June 2010 - 19:04


Blimey Skippy, sorry to hear about the tumble!

Hope the injuries aren't too serious.

I think a helmet is required when watching the England team, as the repeated banging your head on the table is bound to cause injury...

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [693 posts]
28th June 2010 - 9:03


I don't thnk Cav would be taking part in the TdF if it weren't for the helmet he was wearing when he crashed in the Tour of Switzerland. The back of his helmet made pretty hard contact with the tarmac. Lucky that helmets are compulsory for racing...

posted by headfirst [83 posts]
28th June 2010 - 9:29


FWIW I actually wear a helmet.

I'm just utterly sick of the constant stream of holier-than-thou, smug attitudes that come from those hardcore helmet evangelists who deem it mandatory to harp on about the virtues of the bicycle helmet and slam down on anyone who has even the slightest of opinions to the contrary.

*and breathe*

In fact would it not be a wise to be sceptical? After all why trust your life to a piece of foam strapped to your head, why is it wrong to actually ask whether said device is actually good enough for the task? I don't think harping on about how wreckless and idiotic you think this scepticism is accomplishes anything.

What's more, there are many many more dangerous things one can be doing than riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet. Go ask the Dutch.

Napalmhaze's picture

posted by Napalmhaze [81 posts]
28th June 2010 - 17:25


In 1965 i was in a car wreck wearing a seat belt which at that time was an optional extra, suffice to say i am able to harp on about the benefits even though they are now built into cars !
What annoys me is seeing the helmet strapped to the handlebars when the owner deems it unnecessary. Yesterday my crash was going uphill at a time that most would deem slow enough to avoid injury, surprised the hell out of me and thus riding near me!
The organisers of the TDF & Giro would be happy to see me sidelined by injury but whilst i remind others of the need i haven't reached the point where i refuse to ride/talk to those not wearing a helmet but am considering this as i can't see why i should have to waste time giving evidence at an accident scene brought about by a decision to not use basic safety equipment!
Most people would not leave home with defective brakes would they?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [409 posts]
28th June 2010 - 18:51


I leave home without basic safety equipment every day, to do 'safe' things like walking down the street and trimming my hedge. why should cycling be any different? it's no more risk-prone.

i'm against helmet compulsion for two main reasons:

1) it perpetuates the myth that cycling is inherently dangerous, when it's not; and
2) it perpetuates the myth that every day cycling is somehow a 'sport', which it's not

you can't compare it to a seat belt. that's backed up by reams of statistical data, your car comes fitted with one anyway and you don't have to carry it around with you all day. It simply isn't the same.

Barry Fry-up's picture

posted by Barry Fry-up [193 posts]
28th June 2010 - 19:19


I may as well throw my two pennies worth in Smile. Helmets have saved my ass/head on two occasions, once from a curb stone and the second time when I was knocked off by a car, however, having a jumper in my bag helped too, it softened the blow to my back and neck as my bag slid up under my neck, which was strange lol. I do see people's point about wearing a helmet makes cycling look more dangerous than it is, the fact is, people are careless in cars unfortunately at the wrong time and a helmet may well help then, if cycling was more popular then helmets probably wouldn't be as necessary as people would be a lot more aware of cyclists on the road. But you still can't account for the idiot who's doing 30 in the snow and ice rushing to get to work and who doesn't look properly before they turn in front of you and have to lock their brakes and knock you off. I personally see helmets as a vital part of MY daily cycling routine but i'm not too bothered if others don't want to wear one, I do occasionally go cycling without one, to feel the rush of the wind in my hair and all that, i mean what's the fun in life if you never live it? What does annoy me is people jumping red lights especially when green man is on and pedestrians are crossing, that ruins the image of cycling for the rest of us, helmets aren't that big an issue for me.

Rookie rider

posted by dave6779 [36 posts]
28th June 2010 - 21:21


Good blog by Dave Moulton on the whole helmet compulsion thing at

(thanks t1mmyb for the link)

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7857 posts]
28th June 2010 - 22:34


This whole Helmet thing is often just an excuse to divert attention from bad driving and shift responsibility.
Case in point:
Old woman cuts my right of way to push her way into the already jammed up traffic, slowly drives her Smart into my bike and pushing me to the side grazing my elbow with her mirror. Then lets the window down and shouts "Wear a helmet, you'll get yourself a head injury".
So while we're arguing about helmet or not, can we please also pay attention to the daily portion of assault with vehicles, bad driving, speeding, drink driving, misuse of the ASL and all the other stuff that I am exposed to on my daily commute?

posted by pascalo [1 posts]
28th June 2010 - 23:20


wearing a helmet should be a personal choice and personally I choose to wear one. Why? because it can't do any harm. Life is full of risk and all you can do is minimise the risk by taking reasonable precautions. I also ski and have scuba dived. Both risky persuits which I have enjoyed, I've also got drunk,as we all have and started fights and taken drugs. Life is for living but put the odds in your favour. I will not however, berate people who choose not to take precautions.It's a PERSONAL CHOICE, let's not forget that and not turn into a nanny state obsessed with health and safety. Make your own choices and don't impose them on others.

bikeymikey's picture

posted by bikeymikey [2 posts]
29th June 2010 - 2:17


Well said bikeymikey! Here here and all that.

Rookie rider

posted by dave6779 [36 posts]
29th June 2010 - 8:43

1 Like

Wear a helmet if you feel it helps. Don't ram it down everyone else's throat. And also, think about the helmet you wear.

I do sometimes use a helmet for longer commutes or for when I'm at the BMX track but not always. I have a skateboarder type helmet for cycling on the road as it is rather stronger than most cycle helmets - I'm sceptical of the value of lightweight shell type helmets in particular and suspect that many are effectively useless in protecting the head. The rather more substantial full-face MX helmet I have for BMX racing/training makes the average flimsy road cyclist's helmet look like the pathetic waste of money I suspect so many actually are. I do wonder how many people here and elsewhere who are talking up the benefits of bicycle helmet wearing in fact use something that offers minimal protection. I know several cyclists who comment negatively on the marginally additional weight of a skater type helmet like mine that I use for commuting.

My point is that if a helmet is to be used, it might as well be one that actually works rather than having a predominantly decorative function in reality. If you wear a shell type helmet, be very wary of the protection it actually provides you and the position this places you when you talk about the safety of others who opt not to wear a helmet. There are plenty of helmets available for active sports such as rock climbing or skateboarding that are also suitable for cyclists and do not result in excessive heat built-up, are relatively inexpensive and offer vastly superior protection than many and perhaps even most shell type cycle helmets.

And this comment by Dave Moulton also sums up the whole subject rather well: "When all is said and done, a little piece of foam polystyrene on a cyclist's head will never solve the real issue of cycling death and injury. The one of auto drivers being allowed to drive as they please.

It’s a little bit like allowing everyone to go around firing guns, and then making bullit-proof vests mandatory."


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
29th June 2010 - 12:44


I think people should have a choice, but a a helmet can help reduce the amount of head injury but should the impact exceed forces then you're dead anyway.

I feel naked without my helmet. Besides lycra doesn't cover much anyway Wink

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [380 posts]
29th June 2010 - 20:30

1 Like

Fish-n-Chips - as I said, some helmets offer protection that is illusory and in reality play little more than a decorative role. I'm curious as to what the British Standard cycle helmet test actually involves. I did buy one approved shell helmet from a well known manufacturer some years ago when in a hurry, which I soon realised was a waste of money. When I went to buy a new helmet (at Evans) I looked at a wide variety and was so unimpressed with the flimsy array of shell type helmets (again from known manufacturers), which I estimated to offer the protection level of a cardboard box (with varying degrees of dampness) that I opted for a rather more effective skateboard type.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
30th June 2010 - 9:29


'Need a name?
Google 'Jocelyn Lovell'.
And no, he didn't have a fall in his kitchen'

I knew Joce Lovell, he got run down from behind by a truck and broke his neck. No helmet would have prevented his injuries, in fact, a helmet would have probably exacerbated the injuries.

If you actually read the design specifications for cycle helmets, you will find that they are designed to reduce injury in 'single vehicle accidents at speeds below 16kph'. In an accident involving a motor vehicle they are worse than useless.


posted by Grizzerly [210 posts]
27th July 2010 - 23:16


TheHatter wrote:
Skippy doesn't oz also has the highest obesity rate?... maybe not enough people cycling?... maybe cos they have to wear helmets?

ah the ol' fat Aussies chestnut.. as far as I can find out the OECD stats show -

Aussie adults with a BMI above 30 is 21.7%
UK adults with BMI above 30 is 24%

Perhaps TheHatter spends too much time reading the Daily Mail.

Lets have a look at some of the other stats on the OECD site...

Life Expectancy -
Australia is ranked 3rd
UK is ranked 18th

How about heart disease?
Australia 110.9 deaths per 100,000 people
UK 122 deaths per 100,000 people

And before you bring out the nonsense stats from the and their 'selective' use of data and falsified stats to show drops in cycling numbers, lets look at at cycling patterns in Perth WA (as it is touted as an example of how cycling helmet laws caused a drop in cycling).
The Department of Transport data (an edited 'version' of which is used on on cycling numbers since 1998 shows a 450% INCREASE in the number of cyclists.

Of course the Department's data collection methods and full stats are available on that site, unlike's 'dead' links and 'edited' excel spreadsheets supposedly from the Department of Transport.

I suggest your cause finds another country from which you can manipulate data in the future...

posted by blundershot [20 posts]
30th July 2010 - 7:51


Yeah right its so hot you can't see where your going. Your head is boiling hot so that really focus and that is in winter. maybe we should give up when it gets to hot or we start to think we can take greater risks because we wear a helmet. The old Volvo syndrome. Helmets can help but they can also hinder. What about the guy that was paralised in a crash where the helmet is given as the cause of the injury. I have a motorbike license and well as a car. if everybody was given proper training and it had to be updated and we were more visible and the roads were made safer for cyclists this would be better. Helmets seem in many peoples thinking to the the only panacea to all cycling injuries. Yes helmets help some people but not all. It is a matter of personal choice. I have never worn a helmet and will most likely never will. I am more aware of the road much more aware than if I wore a helmet. My bike training has helped assess the road, stationary objects and possible dangers around. Its a personal choice.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
9th February 2011 - 23:06


Good comments from many. However, I hope we don't drift into vitriol like so many forums. The web maybe seem like a no risk insult opportunity but it's there forever.

As for helmets? I'm pro choice and for maintaining the current rules. Personally I'd rather hit railings at 40mph with a little polystyrene between my bonce and metal - but if others don't care viv la freedom! Conversely I would have to stop wearing one if Parliament tried to enforce it.

Have a good weekend out there and nice to know that Road.CC is appreciated in Oz. To risk sounding patronising to poor Skippy - You do sound a little accident probe so take care.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1221 posts]
11th February 2011 - 20:56

1 Like

Look at all these helmets.....

This is irony.

posted by mandelstam [3 posts]
12th February 2011 - 15:25

1 Like