Ordinary, everyday, helmet-free riding that this change hopes to inspire
Ordinary, everyday, helmet-free riding that this change hopes to inspire

Helmets not required for Tour de France 2014 Grand Depart

CTC can reveal that the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart – to be held for the first time in Yorkshire – will allow competitors to take part in the first two stages without helmets, if they so wish.

[UPDATE: Please note the date when this article was published!]

The change in the rules came about after a special request from cycle campaigning organisations and local authorities keen to use the event to promote everyday cycling.

The uniform anonymity of a fully helmeted peloton is thought by some to alienate non-cyclists and, while inspiring some to take up racing, may not generate the quotidian, utilitarian cycling – to shops, schools or for commuting - that leads to reduced congestion, pollution and improved health.

A spokesperson for the Amaury Sport Organisation – which runs the Tour de France – said, “the organisers of the Grand Depart 2014 approached us with the proposal to permit helmet-less cycling in and, with special dispensation from the UCI, we will be allowing this during the first two stages in Yorkshire in 2014.”

Helmets became mandatory in UCI-sanctioned events 10 years ago, but there are no plans to bring in laws to force cyclists to wear helmets in Britain. 

It will be interesting to see whether some riders going without helmets will mean fewer crashes, as there is some evidence from Norway that suggests those who normally wear helmets ride more carefully when they’ve taken them off – an effect known as ‘risk homeostasis’.”

Roger Geffen
Campaigns Director, CTC

Roger Geffen, Campaigns Director for CTC, said, “This is great news – the emphasis placed upon helmets in road safety messages and in racing undermines the current renaissance in ordinary, everyday cycling. Allowing professionals to be seen without helmets will provide a 'role model' and example to those for whom helmets appear alien and make cycling look more hazardous than it actually is."

It was hoped by the Yorkshire organisers that some teams may consider wearing flat caps instead of helmets, to help inspire a generation to get back on their bikes. One company has even specially designed ‘flatter’ cap, with enhanced aerodynamics, but retaining the sun and rain repelling peak which may be so necessary if July 2014’s weather goes the way of previous years.

The first two stages of the 2014 Tour, from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield, will take riders through some of the most picturesque countryside in England. Both stages see the race pass through Harrogate, the birthplace of CTC.

Chris Peck