Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas believes that cycle helmets should be compulsory when riding a bike in the UK, saying that there is “no reason not to” wear one.
In an interview in the Sunday Times Magazine, the Team Sky rider said: "I would certainly make helmets compulsory. I always wear a helmet, I've put on a helmet more times than I've buckled a seatbelt.
"Helmets have come on a lot – well ventilated, not too hot, you don't look stupid – no reason not to."
Thomas’s comments unsurprisingly stirred up a fair bit of discussion on social media, which came as something as a surprise to the Welshman.
Wow! This was one question in an hour interview. It’s nothing I’ve ever thought about. So when asked I thought... I always wear one and I’d advise all children to wear them so Didn’t realise people felt so passionately about helmets!! #thisaintacampaign #calmdown
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) August 26, 2018
While the Highway Code recommends that cyclists wear a helmet, campaign groups including Cycling UK believe that it should be down to the individual to choose whether or not to wear one, and cite studies showing that in countries such as Australia where they have been made mandatory there has been a downturn in the number of people cycling, which has a negative impact on public health generally.
Among those responding to Thomas’s comments was former world and Olympic champion Chris Boardman, who has said that making helmets compulsory is not among the top 10 things that could make cycling on Britain’s roads safer.
He told Thomas via Twitter that making helmets compulsory for all cyclists was an opinion he shared when he was racing, but he changed his mind after becoming involved in cycle campaigning and assessing the evidence.
@GeraintThomas86 Exactly what I thought when I was a pro. It’s an intuitive stance until you research levels of danger compared to other things we do helmet-less and crucially, the unintended consequences.
Here’s a 2min read (again) https://t.co/ysiqlydhzW
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) August 26, 2018
Thomas’s remarks were made as part of his views on how cycling in Britain has changed over the past decade.
He said: "Things have improved a lot since 2008 and 2012, after the Olympics, when cycling really caught on.
"When I was a kid I was always being beeped and told to get off the effin' road. The problem is that cyclists and drivers see each other as enemies.
"A cyclist can get cut up by a car and the driver has been an idiot, but 10 minutes later that cyclist is jumping a red light. You've got to share the road.”
He added: "London is different. I've never ridden a bike in London, apart from in a race. I've watched from a taxi and it does seem a bit crazy.”
Thomas isn’t the only high-profile cyclist to have recommended helmets be made compulsory and have suffered a backlash on social media, with Sir Bradley Wiggins among those to have called for them to be mandatory, as did Laura Kenny, although she later changed her mind on the issue and said it should be a matter of “personal discretion.”
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.