Following the revelation on this site that the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust doesn't just want to promote helmet use but wants compulsion, the CTC has today sent out a press release to the national media, deploring such a stance.

CTC slams BHIT

The press release is repeated in full below but, first, here are two websites packed with info. One is pro-helmet-compulsion website from America; the other is an anti-helmet compulsion website from Australia.



October 31 2002

Helmet law ‘would stop people cycling’

National cyclists’ organisation CTC has condemned pro-helmet campaigners

who have at last admitted that they want to outlaw cyclists who ride

without helmets.

At a recent dinner, Angie Lee, founder of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative

Trust (BHIT), told the cycle trade website BikeBiz that she wanted a

mandatory helmet law firstly for under-12s, then for 12-16-year-olds and

later, perhaps, even adults.

CTC, the UK’s largest cycling organisation, says a law making helmet

wearing mandatory would significantly reduce health because many people

would stop cycling altogether.

Roger Geffen, CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Manager said: "The BHIT has at

last come clean and admitted that legislation is its aim. But helmet

wearing is a significant deterrent and compulsion would stop thousands

of people cycling. It would remove all the health benefits they gain

from cycling and reduce the chances of reaching government targets for

increasing the number of journeys by bike.

"In countries with large numbers of cyclists, like the Netherlands,

helmet-wearing is almost unheard of. Legislation is a sticking-plaster

solution and ignores the cause of the wound. It is blaming the victim

for the failure to improve road safety."

When helmets were made compulsory in Australia, New Zealand and parts of

Canada and the USA, the number of cyclists fell considerably. Neither

the incidence nor the severity of head injuries declined however, when

the drop in the number of cyclists was taken into account.

The British Medical Association opposes moves to enforce helmet wearing

believing that the health benefits from cycling outweigh the decline in

health that would result if thousands of people stopped cycling


* The government wants to increase cycling levels from two to eight per

cent of journeys by 2012.

* Regular cyclists typically enjoy a fitness level equivalent to people

ten years younger. (Sharp, On your bike, 1990)

* It takes 3,700 years of average cycling to suffer a serious injury,

let alone one to the head or one that might be mitigated by a helmet

(Department for Transport, Transport Statistics Great Britain, 2001).

* Cyclists account for less than one per cent of head injury admissions

to hospital. There are 4.8 times more car occupants who die of head

injuries than cyclists, 4.6 times more pedestrians and 1.5 times more

motorcyclists (Thornhill et al, British Medical Journal, 2000; Mayer

Hillman, Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, 1993).

* The countries with the lowest risk of any injury when cycling are

those where helmet use is minimal (eg the Netherlands). The most

effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury when cycling is to

increase the number of people who cycle (Wardlaw, M, Cycle Campaign

Network, 2001, Leden et al, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2000).

* Helmet use in the UK has risen from close to zero to 16 per cent from

1985 to date but there has been no detectable change in trends for

fatalities, serious injuries or the average severity of injury to

cyclists (DfT, 2001)

* Helmet use in London has increased from zero to 50 per cent since

1985. The average severity of injuries has also increased both

absolutely and relative to pedestrians (Transport for London, Pedal

Cyclists Casualties in Greater London, 1999).

* From 1991 to 2001, helmet use in USA increased from 18 per cent to 50

per cent but cycle use declined by 21 per cent. Those who continued to

cycle in 2001 were 51 per cent more likely to suffer head injury than in

1991 (US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2001).

* Helmet laws caused cycling levels to drop by 30 per cent in Australia

while head injuries fell by only 11 per cent. The injury risk for those

who continue to cycle has risen and in some parts of Australia, injury

rates are at an all time high (Australian Road Accident Prevention

Research Unit, 1999).

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