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Boris Johnson says he won't make helmets compulsory on cycle hire scheme

Mayor of London tells Jonathan Ross mandatory helmets in Australia affected levels of hire

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 joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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