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Meanwhile Laura Trott says cycle training should be on the National Curriculum

Sir Bradley Wiggins says that cyclists should be required by law to wear helmets and banned from listening to music through headphones while they are riding a bike.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist and first Briton to win the Tour de France was giving his opinion on an interview shown on the BBC children’s news programme, Newsround.

Speaking on the subject of cycle safety, the father of two said: “I think certain laws for cyclists need to be passed to protect us more than anything.

“Making helmets compulsory on the roads, making it illegal to maybe have an iPod in while you’re riding a bike, just little things like that would make a huge difference.”

Trott, winner of Olympic gold medals in the Omnium and team pursuit at London last year, repeated an appeal she made in May for a Briitish Cycling video in support of the Get Britain Cycling petition, saying that regular cycle training in schools would lead to improved safety.

“Not all cyclists are that safe on the road either, and I think that would help young kids especially if we could get it in the National Curriculum once a week,” she said.

It’s not the first time Wiggins has spoken about cycle helmets.

Last year, when he was told at a press conference that London cyclist Dan Harris had been killed when he was struck by a media bus outside the Olympic Park, he said: “Ultimately, if you get knocked off and you don’t have a helmet on, then you can’t argue. You can get killed if you don’t have a helmet on.

"You shouldn’t be riding along with iPods and phones and things on. You have lights on. Once there are laws passed for cyclists then you are protected and you can say, ‘well, I have done everything to be safe."

"It is dangerous and London is a busy city. There is a lot of traffic. I think we have to help ourselves sometimes."

Later that day, Wiggins said on Twitter that he wasn’t calling for compulsory helmet laws: "Just to confirm I haven't called for helmets to be made the law as reports suggest. I suggested it may be the way to go to give cyclists more protection legally I [sic] involved In an accident. I wasn't on me soap box CALLING, was asked what I thought."

His latest comments, however, suggest that he is in favour of compulsion.

Mark Cavendish is another high profile cyclist who has said that cyclists shouldn’t listen to music while they ride.

Asked in 2011 by TV personality John Inverdale at an event hosted by the charity Right To Play whether he liked to do so, Cavendish gave the firm reply: “Don’t cycle with an iPod in, it’s dangerous!”

Cycling organisations such as CTC opposese helmet compulsion, saying that it should be a matter of individual choice.

Yesterday, talking about the case of a teenage boy left brain damaged after being struck by a van while out riding - he wasn't wearing a helmet because he didn't want to mess up his hairstyle - CTC's Campaigns Director, Roger Geffen, said: "My heart goes out to Ryan Smith and his family. 

"What they are going through now must be unimaginable.

"However, faced with heart-rending stories like this, decision-makers need to remember that the only known impact of helmet laws is to drastically reduce cycle use, typically by over 30%, with much deeper reductions for teenage cycling."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

152 comments

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pure climber [3 posts] 2 years ago
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Cycling to work, through central London this morning, I had been thinking compulsory basic training at primary them more advanced training at secondary school would be a start to making cyclist safer. Every day it astounds me that more cyclists are not killed on the road, not through the fault of cars and lorries but through the unnecessary dangers many cyclists put themselves in. If cyclist do not respect their own saftey it is difficult to expect other raod users to respect them.

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Paul J [874 posts] 2 years ago
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Bradley did not receive his medal for having any extra level of clue about road safety.

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nicstevenson [29 posts] 2 years ago
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Completely agree that listening to music is a) odd as it takes you away from enjoying the activity itself (same for runners) and b) potentially dangerous in some situations... but I do use one iPhone earphone with Google maps directions to get to new places sometimes: can't imagine most cops being inteersted in the difference if this ever were to happen.

On helmets? Don't feed the troll - even if he is a legend and a kngiht of realm!

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Marky Legs [124 posts] 2 years ago
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Totally agree about the use of ipods etc... you can't hear what is around you, what is coming up behind you. You need to be aware of your environment and those people listening to ipods/phones etc have no idea about there surroundings!!

As for helmets, you never know when you're going to bump your head!!! Wear one

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mrmo [2067 posts] 2 years ago
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helmets, ipods, who cares. Sort the cause of accidents out and stop victim blaming!

Do something about the crap drivers!!!!!!!!!

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andybwhite [248 posts] 2 years ago
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Soundbites are great for starting debates!

Interestingly he said helmets should be compulsory for cycling on the road. He didn't say on they should be worn on cycle paths - presumably that would mean joggers and walkers would need to wear them too.

However, in such circumstances what would one do if the cycle path took to the road for 50m would one have to don a helmet for that stretch?

IMHO the whole debate about helmets is an unenforceable nonsense. The stats don't back up the notion that they save lives as deaths are attributed to head injuries even when the other injuries are unsurvivable. Deaths from head injuries most often occur among pedestrians and car drivers so frankly they should be first in the queue for helmets. I could go on, but arguing against the small minded pro-helmet brigade is boring.

I think Brad should have been careful to avoid this debate on a children's program as, irrespective of what he really thinks, in such circumstances there is only one message he could give that is acceptable to the media and that is telling children to wear a helmet and they will be safe. This is such a shame as children need to learn to make their own risk assessments and then make appropriate choices.

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Nzlucas [123 posts] 2 years ago
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It it helps reduce the chance I will be a vegetable and i need to be fed apple sauce for the rest of my life then i will wear one.

After my GF was hit in June the Doctor in A&E said the difference to her walking out of there and him shaving the side of her head ready for the neurosurgeon was the helmet she was wearing... which had a big crack in it.

As for wearing headphones, that just freaks me out it London as cars wizz by unannouced.

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Gashead [31 posts] 2 years ago
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Listening to music with noise isolating headphones is idiocy but in order to prevent thinking about stopping I have safely run along thousands of country miles listening to 5 Live with open headphones. Pedestrians listening to music cross in front of my path every single day, relying on engine rumble and peripheral vision. Equally dangerous as are drivers with boom, boom, boom stereos unaware of emergency vehicles.

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Aapje [242 posts] 2 years ago
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Too bad that doctor was full of it. He has no clue if the helmet did that, he just made it up.

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rich22222 [163 posts] 2 years ago
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Wearing ear phones saved my life.

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andybwhite [248 posts] 2 years ago
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What do those who say it's dangerous the wear headphones think about deaf cyclists? Should deaf cyclists be banned? What about in car music? Surely that should be banned for the same reason. I frankly can't see the difference in these arguments.

These are all arguments about making the victim culpable for the acts done to them by the carelessness/recklessness of other road users. In my mind such arguments will one day be seen for what they are: predjudicial and on a par with sexism, homophobia and racism; all things that were one acceptable but no longer are. Anti cycling rhetoric will one day go the same way.

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bendertherobot [951 posts] 2 years ago
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Time to get the deaf off our roads.

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pz1800 [24 posts] 2 years ago
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IF cycle training stopped riders being stupid it would be a great idea. I would like to see compulsory cycle safety training for drivers as part of their training as well.

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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pure climber wrote:

If cyclist do not respect their own saftey it is difficult to expect other raod users to respect them.

No, you are wrong. Totally wrong. It is absolutely necessary that other road users respect cyclists. Why? Because cyclists are vulnerable road users and don't deserve to be killed or seriously injured because of someone's bad attitude.

If someone rides through a red light and gets hit by a bus, then that's their call - I only have sympathy for whoever has the trauma of hitting them. But if someone cuts me up, or buzzes past me at 60mph because they saw some other cyclist running a red light, then that's wrong.

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Colin Peyresourde [1689 posts] 2 years ago
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pure climber wrote:

Cycling to work, through central London this morning, I had been thinking compulsory basic training at primary them more advanced training at secondary school would be a start to making cyclist safer. Every day it astounds me that more cyclists are not killed on the road, not through the fault of cars and lorries but through the unnecessary dangers many cyclists put themselves in. If cyclist do not respect their own saftey it is difficult to expect other raod users to respect them.

Totally agree. Wearing a helmet and not wearing headphones is generally sound advice too - though I'm not sure compulsion is the way.

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pjclinch [90 posts] 2 years ago
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"Little things like that"... Deary, deary me  20

"Little things" like helmet laws with a proven track record of costing money to produce no safety improvement and significantly reduce numbers of cyclists.

Note to the meejah: if you want a clueful soundbite about cycling safety from a gold medal winning track star who has enjoyed success in the Tour de France you want Chris Boardman, because he actually knows what he's talking about.

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Al__S [1007 posts] 2 years ago
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compulsory helmets for pedestrians and car occupants! Huge rates of head injuries to pedestrians and car occupants could be slashed by making everyionewear a helmet all the time!

Once more, Wiggins has shown he's clueless on this issue.

(for the record: I wear a helmet when engaging in cycle-sport. I don't when I'm pottering around town)

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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It has also been proved that car drivers and passengers are at an equal/greater risk of head injuries and serious brain trauma than cyclists during an accident.
Where is the call for compulsory helmets for cars? and those radios/cd players need to be banned from cars, to much of a distraction.
Wiggins is starting to loosing credibility when talking on issues he has not researched.

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antonio [1119 posts] 2 years ago
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Danger is all around us, outdoors, indoors, in cars, we should all wear a helmet from the day we are born, permanently!

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A V Lowe [573 posts] 2 years ago
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Wiggins is not worth listening to on this issue - after his Olympic (and TfF?) wins he is pictured riding sans helmet with his son sans helmet. Sounds like he changes his position to suit what he's been told to say. Cavendish seems to speak his own opinion, and stick to it.

And why just cyclists and ipods. Almost every road user has 2 key safety systems which should be kept fully working when they are moving around on the road.

Eyes provide the major input route for information about your next move and also tell other road users that you have seen them, and, using inherent social and cultural norms, feed a non-verbal message on priority/permission on how you interact with other road users. Just as tinted windows are banned on cars, so mirror and dark glass eyewear should be banned for pedestrians and cyclists.

Ears likewise, drivers who drive with windows totally shut and music playing loud are as bad as cyclists with earphones and pedestrians using mobile phones. THe universal road safety message "You have safety kit with over 4 million years of development and proof that it works, so don't switch it off" And before someone makes a clever remark about the blind and the deaf - if all road users are looking and hearing it becomes clear that one road user is not locking in and you act accordingly - no eye contact - make a noise. No reaction to a noise like a warning bell or horn then get a visual connection.

Helmets - well that same development process has eliminated most bodies that cannot survive falling over or running into a rock or a tree at running speeds - so at 20mph the protective system of the skull is at only 30% of its impact capacity - compared to a styrene helmet which is at 260% of its impact capacity.

As the Dutch rightly say "Nothing, is better than a cycle helmet"

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mattbibbings [81 posts] 2 years ago
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To wear a helmet or not?

Darwin was right.

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pjclinch [90 posts] 2 years ago
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mattbibbings wrote:

To wear a helmet or not?

Darwin was right.

Darwin's theory certainly gives a good account of why people may have evolved a hard protective skull that prevents them being killed any time they fall over...

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sidesaddle [79 posts] 2 years ago
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From my experience living next to a national cycle route (East Burton, in The Purbecks, Dorset) I'd hazard that 95% of drop-bar riders wear lids, but only about 40% of the more 'pedestrian' cyclists. Would be interested to find out the accident/injury split between the 2 groups.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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Where can I get one of Brad's helmets that protect you if you are run over BY A BUS?

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crazy-legs [730 posts] 2 years ago
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Dear Bradley,

Please STFU and concentrate on riding your bike, you're quite good at that.
Otherwise, you don't have a clue. Seem to remember that you were wearing a helmet when that woman drove into you as she exited the garage? The cause of the collision wasn't you wearing/not wearing a helmet, it was her shit driving. Let's fix that first, then worry about helmets.

Thanks awfully.

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MattT53 [146 posts] 2 years ago
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"These are all arguments about making the victim culpable for the acts done to them by the carelessness/recklessness of other road users"

This kind of argument misses the point, in the face of non-ideal conditions (that aren't changing any time soon) it simply makes sense to maximise your own personal safety (however you see best). Not doing so because any accident is likely to be someone else's fault is pretty silly. You can do your best to highlight the wider issues at the same time.

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Ghedebrav [1100 posts] 2 years ago
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antonio wrote:

Danger is all around us, outdoors, indoors, in cars, we should all wear a helmet from the day we are born, permanently!

Exactly! Never leave the house.

And if you have to, remember your hi-vis jacket.

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neildmoss [284 posts] 2 years ago
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Whilst we're on the subject, can I ask if anyone knows of studies which:

a) indicate that the wearing of a helmet could result in more harm from an accident than would have resulted if the rider was not wearing it?

b) show that helmet use can mitigate the damage done during an accident?

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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hey neildmoss, cyclehelmets.org has some good analysis of studies.

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notfastenough [3673 posts] 2 years ago
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ooh look, a helmet debate

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