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.”
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.