The case against compulsory helmets
Cycling is healthy
Cycling regularly gives you a level of fitness equivalent to being 10 years younger and a life expectancy 2 years above the average. In terms of life-years gained and lost, the Government acknowledges that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh any risks involved – by a factor of 20:1 according to one estimate, and even higher according to a recent study from Spain.
Tens of thousands of people die annually from diseases attributed to physical inactivity, whereas only a relatively small number die in crashes on bicycles each year.
Cycling is also a very popular form of exercise, ranking only behind swimming and athletics in popularity. Furthermore, when asked which activity people wish to do more of, cycling is second only to swimming.
Cycling is safer in places where cycling levels are higher
By contrast, helmet wearing rates are, if anything, inversely related to cyclists' safety. In countries where cycle use is highest - such as the Netherlands and Denmark - cycle helmet use tends to be much lower than in countries with a higher risk of cycling, such as Britain and the US.
Imposing helmet-wearing stops people cycling
International evidence also shows that making cyclists wear helmets leads to reduced cycle use - particularly among teenagers - thereby undermining efforts to maximise its health and other benefits.
Following laws implemented and enforced in Australia in the early 1990s, cycle levels fell by over a third.