Bradley Wiggins backs cyclist helmet laws after bus death


Cycle safety debate after latest cyclist's death

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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.

Start Quote

Helmets have nothing to do with collisions and it's a side-issue and a serious diversion”

End Quote Gerhard Weiss London Cycling Campaign

"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 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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  • rate this

    Comment number 861.

    Road Tax and Insurance as well as helmets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 860.

    To be effective at protecting even part of the head it covers, a cycle helmet has to be both strong and light enough that its added weight doesn't make a whiplash-broken neck more likely.
    And to do that while being affordable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    When I was taught to drive London Buses I was told to expect every disaster and be ready to deal with it!
    The true hard facts for cyclists are that car drivers attitude is that it doesn't hurt them if they run over a cyclist.
    Maybe if cyclists were taught to ride the same way London Transport teach its bus drivers they would accept reality and stop counting on drivers to care about them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    Mandatory helmets for cyclists, but perhaps also mandatory brains for drivers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    Skateboarders make more effort at protecting themselves than cyclists do but while helmets and safety gear may reduce cyclist injuries,it wont stop accidents any more than airbags in cars do.Accidents are due to awful standard of driving/riding of most road users and that is what needs addressing.Most see driving as something they do while on phone/eating/smoking etc ie ZERO concentration!

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    If you get run over by a bus a polystyrene hat will make no difference at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    I ride a bike to work and the shops regular. If i had to wear a helmet i would just use my car. A helmet is just a bit of polystyrene that will not do anything if a car runs you over. And a helmet just makes you look stupid. Mind you i would never wear headphones now that is stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    Culture and attitudes play an enormous role here. The Dutch are taught from an early age to respect all road users, especially the vulnerable such as pushbikes, invalid-buggies and horses.

    And most cyclists don't wear helmets unless they are called Marianne Vos and are racing Lizzie Armitstead in the Olympics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    There have been over 60 (SIXTY!) cyclists killed on the roads in Britain this year and more than 550 serious injuries.

    Anybody who rides a bike on the roads in this country is a lunatic. You only have to try to speak to them to realise that.

    I'm not against cycling. Years ago I rode a bike all over the city. More recently did in Holland for a year. They're set up for it. Too dangerous here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    I feel that all cyclists should wear helmets.
    It would also be nice if helmets were made available to people no matter their head size. You have a big head and you can forget it.
    All cyclists should be made to take the proficiency test before they are allowed to go on the road.
    Well why not? You can still do damage to yourself & others with a bike maybe then people will have more understanding!

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    I'm with Cav on this one:
    "Mark Cavendish says motorists should be presumed liable in incidents where cyclists are injured or killed"

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    There is no evidence that wearing a cycle helmet provides protection when a cyclist is in collision with a motor vehicle. Helmets are designed to offer protection at very low speeds where the cyclist falls off and hits the ground. Cyclists -especially children need cycle lanes and 20mph speed limits in residential areas where practicable. Helmet laws merely discourage cycling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    I hit a tree head on (literally) doing around 25mph mountain biking. Split my helmet clean in two but walked away a bit dazed. Not sure it would have killed me if I was not wearing a helmet but I'm pretty sure I would have been far worse off. There is lots of research out there to disprove helmets actually work, but in this case I'm certain it did its job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    Cycle helmets clearly sensible to wear, but the ever increasingly authoritarian role of government is too oppressive. Fatalities for those without hats should be seen as natural selection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    Not really related to this discussion, but seeing as so many people are suggesting it...

    Ban Music/Earphones/iPods for cyclists? Do you suggest we ban deaf people from cycling then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    Helmets for cyclists, yes but these have to be of a standard that will actually give protection to the head, but more importantly I think there are to many cyclists around with very poor riding skills and no road craft. As a very minimum every cyclist should pass a test to show competancy on the road, have insurance, Helmet and High Vis vest lights and reflectors. Protect yourself and be seen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    A CTC ( report says:
    "From the evidence available, it is possible that helmets might perhaps provide some limited protection in the event of certain types of impact occurring (e.g. minor falls). However, any such benefits might also be undermined or even outweighed by a variety of ways in which helmet wearing may increase the likelihood of such impacts occurring in the first place."

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    re750 logicalreason

    I wear a helmet when cycling to work and when off road.
    however a helmet will not save your life if u get hit by a car at fifty miles n hour.
    A helmet does not protect your neck,it does not protect your spine and it does not protect your vital organs.A cycle helmet is only any good for going over your handlebars.It will do nothing if u get hit by a ton+ of speeding metal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    ... Anything that uses the road should be insured. Cars, bikes, lorries, bicycles, tractors... The tax is another arguement altogether.

    In regards to this incident. The bus will have had a huge blind spot. The person on the bike should have been more vigilant. Assuming the blind stop was the issue the bus driver can only react to something he's aware of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    Cultural change is always better than compulsion. We don't need more laws, we need less.

    Anyway, who's going to police this? How about someone take a bit of a stand with cyclists riding on the pavement, through red lights and at night with no lights? Up here in Leeds there is an epidemic of appalling behaviour by cyclists because nobody enforces the rules.


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