London

Bradley Wiggins backs cyclist helmet laws after bus death

  • 2 August 2012
  • From the section London
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Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins has backed a change in the law to oblige cyclists to wear helmets after a man died in a crash near the Olympic Park.

He was asked his views on the safety of London's roads after Daniel Harris was hit by an Olympic bus on Wednesday.

It has not been revealed if the 28-year-old was wearing a helmet, but Wiggins said forcing cyclists to take precautions would make the roads safer.

The London Cycling Campaign described it as a "damaging diversion".

Mr Harris is the 10th cyclist to die on the capital's roads this year.

'Help ourselves'

Wiggins, speaking after winning his Olympic gold medal in Wednesday's time trial, said making it illegal to cycle without a helmet would make the roads safer "because ultimately, if you get knocked off and you ain't got a helmet on, then how can you kind of argue".

He added: "[People] shouldn't be riding along with iPods and phones and things on and [they] should have lights and all those things.

"So I think when there's laws passed for cyclists, then you're protected and you can say, well, I've done everything to be safe."

He went on: "It's dangerous and London is a busy city with a lot of traffic. I think we have to help ourselves sometimes.

"I haven't lived in London for 10 to 15 years now and it's got a lot busier since I was riding a bike as a kid round here, and I got knocked off several times."

Later he tweeted to point out he was not campaigning for a change in the law, and had only been responding to a question that was put to him.

"Just to confirm I haven't called for helmets to be made the law as reports suggest," Wiggins wrote.

"I wasn't on me soap box CALLING, was asked what I thought".

The fatal crash, involving a bus carrying media workers from the Olympics, happened close to the hockey centre, velodrome and Paralympic tennis arena at about 19:45 BST at the junction of Ruckholt Road and East Cross Route in Hackney.

Mr Harris, from Ilford, is the 10th cyclist to die in London since January.

The bus driver was held on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. A 65-year-old man was later released on bail pending further inquiries.

Bradley Wiggins said he was knocked off his bike several times while growing up in London

Gerhard Weiss, from the London Cycling Campaign, said the group had been consulted when the first planning applications came out for the Olympic Park.

He said the authorities had been warned that Ruckholt Road was a "danger zone" in 2009, adding: "Helmets have nothing to do with collisions and it's a side-issue and a serious diversion."

Mr Weiss said: "The junction has never been good for cycling and we hoped that the Olympics would have been a good opportunity to improve matters but that didn't seem to happen."

London Mayor Boris Johnson said there were no plans to require cyclists to wear helmets or to provide them for the capital's fleet of hire bikes.

He said: "I think he's [Bradley Wiggins] quite right to say that people should do if they've got one.

"But we've absolutely no plans to make them mandatory.

"But the evidence is mixed. I have to say that in countries where they have made them compulsory, it hasn't always necessarily been good for cycling."

Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator of national cycling charity CTC, told the BBC: "Making cycle helmets compulsory would be likely to have an overall damaging effect on public health, since the health benefits of cycling massively outweigh the risks and we know that where enforced, helmet laws tend to lead to an immediate reduction in cycling."

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