Helmets for all Boris Bike users, call from charity

Road safety campaigners Brake want to see mandatory helmet-wearing

by Mark Appleton   September 24, 2010  

Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme bikes on hire station © Simon MacMichael.jpg

A mandatory helmet with every Boris Bike. That’s the call from Brake, a UK charity campaigning to halt both “the worldwide carnage of people being killed and maimed on roads” and “the high levels of carbon dioxide emissions caused by road vehicles”

Brake cites the six people injured since the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme began as evidence that helmet wearing should be compulsory for those using the bikes.

“We support mandatory helmet use for all cyclists across the board” Brake spokeswoman Julie Townsend told road.cc. “We support schemes that promote safe cycling and walking but we would prefer to see investment in safe cycling paths that allow people to walk and ride separated from traffic rather than a scheme that allows people to hire a bike and ride through busy London streets without ensuring they have the appropriate safety gear.”

A TfL spokesman said it was up to individual cyclists to decide whether to use a helmet. He told the Press Association: "There have been six incidents where a cycle hire user has been injured since the scheme launched on July 30. This should be seen in the context of the 750,000-plus cycle journeys that have been made on the hire bikes to date.

"The use of cycle helmets in the UK is not a legal requirement, which means it is up to each user to decide whether or not they wish to wear one. In addition, for a helmet to be effective it has to be the appropriate size and fitted properly.

"TfL encourages cycle hire users to consider wearing helmets, as is stated in the scheme's code of conduct."

Meanwhile, evidence from Melbourne in Australia suggests that mandatory helmet use can severely restrict the uptake of bike hire schemes. After two months of operation the scheme there was renting out just 70 bikes per day.

Another Australian city, Brisbane, where helmet use is compulsory, is now faced with the prospect of a similarly slow uptake of its upcoming CityCycle scheme. The Brisbane Courier reports that the city council is investigating options for users to buy or rent helmets "from approved retailers, at an affordable price." But, reports the Courier, the council has been unable to provide the details of how such an arrangement will work.
 

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

What exactly were the injuries sustained by these six people? And had any of them been drinking alcohol?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1330 posts]
24th September 2010 - 11:29

like this
Like (1)

'Brake cites the six people injured since the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme began'

I know six people who have been injured since it began too! Nothing to do with bikes at all, let alone those ones but about as important and detailed as their stated 'fact!'

Do they also suggest a gas mask too??

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
24th September 2010 - 13:19

like this
Like (0)

As one of the bloggers observed, they could just call for the roads to be safe in the first place ... how many times do we have to say "the Dutch didn't get safer roads and more cycling by making everyone wearing a fucking helmet"?

(Excuse my profanity, but for heaven's sake.)

(And, yes, I've written to Brake, in slightly less profane terms: http://groupthinkrules.blogspot.com/2010/09/cycle-helmets-and-cycle-hire...)

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [226 posts]
24th September 2010 - 13:29

like this
Like (2)

personally, i really do not want to take the risk of hiring a helmet that i have no guarantee of it's integrity! As cyclists we all make informed choices on the wearing of helmets or not. Those of us who do, take care of our lids by ensuring that they do not get dropped or if we have had the misfortune to bounce of the road on it we replace it!

Maybe BRAKE should put more effort into demanding mandatory 20mph limits in urban areas and automatic endorsment/forfeit of licences whenever a driver endangers, injures or causes the death of a vunerable road user on the spot!!!

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
24th September 2010 - 15:40

like this
Like (1)

giff77 wrote:
Maybe BRAKE should put more effort into demanding mandatory 20mph limits in urban areas and automatic endorsment/forfeit of licences whenever a driver endangers, injures or causes the death of a vunerable road user on the spot!!!

Now that, works for me! Thinking

posted by crunch61 [31 posts]
24th September 2010 - 16:10

like this
Like (1)

0.008%

I'd venture that figure compares favourably with any form of propulsion on the streets of London. And the type of injuries are not mentioned.

Helmets won't help and, as others have pointed out, there are significant downsides. Besides which, who wants to wear a sweaty, smelly lid that has seen better days and been on countless other heads?

Since Brake put out a press release on Wednesday saying there was overwhelming demand for lower speed limits then perhaps that's where we should start. Although the fact that most still speed anyway means they want tougher speed limits for everyone else.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1902 posts]
24th September 2010 - 16:23

like this
Like (0)

Quote:
Since Brake put out a press release on Wednesday saying there was overwhelming demand for lower speed limits then perhaps that's where we should start. Although the fact that most still speed anyway means they want tougher speed limits for everyone else.

Did a bit of digging and it seems that 2 of the 5/6 reported accidents appear to be down to the riders; one rode into a refuge(sic) truck and the other fell off due to wobbling while trying to get their bike going. Maybe the hire contract should come with some sort of 'Darwin' test.

I'd also imagine that car drivers in central London, where the bike hire scheme is mainly located, would love to be able to drive at 20mph.

I agree on the helmets too, especially giff77. I wear one all the time when cycling but, apart from making my kids wear them when they were under 16, I'd never force my views onto anyone else.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [584 posts]
24th September 2010 - 16:37

like this
Like (1)

Frankly I never bother wearing a helmet when I'm pootling around town, with the girls in the trailer - a sun hat is as far as I go!

And 'drove into a refuse truck'? I'm always deeply suspicious of any serious accidents where cyclists supposedly drive into something else, rather than vice versa. (Not, admittedly, that I've read any of the reports.)

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [226 posts]
24th September 2010 - 17:03

like this
Like (1)

Stuff and nonsense, helmets are about money not safety, who are these "safety" campaigners? Do they have links with the motor industry?? Ah, yes they are sponsored by a driving school...

posted by Kim [127 posts]
24th September 2010 - 18:35

like this
Like (1)

On the day that a spokesperson seriously suggestd on Radio 4 that for safety glass bottles and glasses should be banned in pubs (to safeguard the public from the drunken few who like to use them as weapons) this call for mandatory helmets is depressing but hardly a surprise. The same glass 'expert" suggested that if you found yourself "barefoot" on the high street you'd realise what a danger alcohol induced broken glass was. I imagine the same goes for other stuff on the pavement but I don't hear a call for a ban on dogs.

The problem isn't helmets but the sheer numbers on the oroad and speed. 20 mph speed limit in urban and residential areas and most bike accidents solved or reduced in severity.Most accidents are all about reaction times and the lower the speed the more reaction time. It will become obvious to road safety specialists one day.

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

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1028 posts]
24th September 2010 - 18:51

like this
Like (2)

Maybe BRAKE should put more effort into demanding mandatory 20mph limits in urban areas

This wouldn't work very well for me, I struggle to keep my bike below 20 mph half the time so I'd be permanently speeding on my bike!!!!!

posted by keith_newnham [58 posts]
24th September 2010 - 19:29

like this
Like (0)

Show me one case of a cyclist being run down by a twenty ton lorry being saved by his (or her) helmet and I'll start wearing one. Of course that's ridiculous, so is the hoary old argument.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [931 posts]
24th September 2010 - 20:13

like this
Like (1)

I wear a helmet on nearly all rides and would encourage other cyclists (especially less experienced ones) to do the same. However any legislation that makes people less inclined to cycle and so more likely to use motorised transport makes the roads less safe for all.

Stofish

Stofish's picture

posted by Stofish [50 posts]
24th September 2010 - 20:14

like this
Like (1)

antonio

That is my criteria for any politician trying to introduce a mandatory helmet law Devil
If they can survive being run over by a 40ton artic while wearing a cycle helmet on, then they can put their proposition to Parliament.

posted by GrahamH [18 posts]
24th September 2010 - 21:50

like this
Like (1)

How is discouraging cycling anything to do with lowering carbon emission.. bloody red herring.. who they think they represent, cyclist? Bah. not this one. I'll wear my helmet on my own accord thank you very much. ^_^

posted by Alankk [121 posts]
25th September 2010 - 8:47

like this
Like (0)

Puts a lot of us in the same boat then Keith!! The sooner people realise that many of our roads were built to facilitate

te smaller, lighter and slower vehicles than what we have today the better. That, and sorting out a driving test that currently does not deal with how the driver treats vunerable road users. Maybe our roads will start to be a bit safer for all

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1036 posts]
25th September 2010 - 10:13

like this
Like (1)

I have been wearing a helmet ever since my neice ( who was in a coma for several weeks, but survived and made a full recovery thanks, according to her doctors, to her wearing of a helmet).
I really do believe that to try to make it compulsory would put people off, but just give the public the facts and let us decide for ourselves....just as an aside, within two weeks of starting to wear my helmet, I swear, I fell off my bike and landed on my head on a stretch of road that I had ridden thousands of times before, and walked away with just my injured pride. Big Grin

rog

posted by rogie40 [27 posts]
26th September 2010 - 20:23

like this
Like (2)

All cyclists will be expected to wear full MX gear next. I mean, I wear shin pads and arm protection along with a full face lid for riding my BMX and a lot of people on the BMX scene wear the full Monty motorcross kit too. Yep, you know it makes sense.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
26th September 2010 - 21:35

like this
Like (0)

just as an aside, within two weeks of starting to wear my helmet, I swear, I fell off my bike and landed on my head on a stretch of road that I had ridden thousands of times before, and walked away with just my injured pride.

See? Hard evidence that helmets cause accidents Devil

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [86 posts]
27th September 2010 - 10:46

like this
Like (1)