Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he will not make it compulsory for people using the city’s cycle hire scheme to wear helmets – because he doesn’t want to deter them from riding the bikes.
His predecessor as mayor, Ken Livingstone, who gave the go-ahead to the scheme prior to leaving office in 2008 said three years ago that he had planned to make helmets compulsory for those hiring bikes.
However, evidence from Australia, where cyclists have to wear a helmet by law, suggests that compulsion affects use of cycle hire schemes.
That point was brought up by Mr Johnson during his appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV1 last night.
He said: "They tried making the helmets mandatory in Australia and people just stopped taking the bikes.
"I think the health benefits of encouraging cycling outweigh, in my view, the risk and actually the medical evidence is mixed on this,” he went on.
The mayor added: "Tragically when you look at the people who have accidents in London we obviously have a small number of fatalities and quite a large number of minor accidents and most of them have nothing to do with the helmet and the fatalities almost never.
“So I hesitate to say this … but the reality is we are not going to make wearing helmets on the hard bikes mandatory because it would discourage cycling and I want to encourage cycling.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.