Bradley Wiggins calls for law to wear cycle helmets

Olympic time trial gold medallist Bradley Wiggins wants cycling helmets to be made compulsory after a man was knocked down and killed by an official London Olympics 2012 bus just outside the stadium last night. The accident occurred just before the Bradley Wiggins press conference. The Tour de France and gold medal hero took the opportunity to add his views to the cycle safety helmet debate.Bradley Wiggins says all cyclists should wear cycle helmets

“It’s dangerous and London is a busy city and a lot of traffic. I think we have to help ourselves sometimes,” said Wiggins after the incident.

Asked for his views on cycling safety in the capital, Bradley Wiggins said:

“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.

“But at the end of the day we’ve all got to co-exist on the roads. Cyclists are not ever going to go away, as much as drivers moan, and as much as cyclists maybe moan about certain drivers they are never going to go away, so there’s got to be a bit of give and take.”

“But I think things are improving to a degree: there are organisations out there who are attempting to make the roads safer for both parties.”

In May this year, ‘cycling Mayor’ Boris Johnson claimed that nearly two-thirds of the cyclists killed on London’s roads are responsible for their own deaths because they break the laws of the road.

A report in the Independent says a 2009 study found that, when a cyclist over the age of 25 sustained serious injuries, it was the motorist at fault between 64 and 70 per cent of the time; the cyclist was found to be at fault in 23 to 27 per cent of incidents.

Cases in which a cyclist over the age of 25 died in a crash, the motorist was deemed entirely at fault in 48 to 66 per cent of incidents and the cyclist 33 to 43 per cent of the time.

According to a Times report Bradley Wiggins was asked about the accident and said the Government should change the law to make helmets compulsory.

“Ultimately, if you get knocked off and you don’t have a helmet on, then you can’t argue,” he said. “You can get killed if you don’t have a helmet on.”

He added: “You shouldn’t be riding along with iPods and phones and things on. You have lights on. Once there are laws passed for cyclists then you are protected and you can say, ‘Well, I have done everything to be safe’.

“There are a lot of things that need to be addressed with cycling at the moment on the roads. Things can’t continue the way that they are, everybody knows that.”

There is much debate as to the value of cycle helmets, or at least those which meet the current standards, which many think are too low.

If you do not wear a helmet and are involved in an accident your compensation might be reduced, only might, so read more here.

The James Cracknell campaign continues. James believes he was saved from death by his cycle helmet.

So would a law making cycle helmet wearing compulsory suit you?


Author: Mark Thompson

Personal injury and accident specialist solicitor

3 thoughts on “Bradley Wiggins calls for law to wear cycle helmets”

  1. Thanks for your reply Mark. The main point I was trying to make was that I was told off for not wearing a helmet even though it was my shoulder that was injured. Wearing a helmet in this case would not have prevented or made my injuries any less. Likewise, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence for injuries sustained by cyclists written off as ‘their own fault because they weren’t wearing helmets’ even though it may have been there wrist, leg etc that was injured.

  2. Saying if you didn’t wear a helmet then it’s your fault if you are in an accident is an unhelpful blanket statement akin to “If women go out dressed like that they are asking for it.” I am not being sensationalist but simply asking why the victim blaming? Before going on about making helmet wearing compulsory, research hat shows the pros and cons should be looked at (for example, it’s been shown that both car drivers and cyclists use the road more recklessly if the cyclist wears a helmet). Also, let’s not forget that statistics can be twisted. When I skidded on black ice and damaged my shoulder, the nurse at A&E asked if I had been wearing a helmet and was very judgmental when I said I wasn’t and put it down on her clip board. I am now recorded as a reckless cyclist, even though even if I had have been wearing a helmet I would still have damaged my shoulder. There are many more anecdotes like this. I am not saying helmets don’t save lives and are useful, but there are other parts of the equation:
    -good quality cycle training taught by actual cyclists
    – driver awareness
    -laws changed so that the cyclist isn’t automatically at fault when in an accident
    -cycle provision (e.g. cycle lanes) designed and put in place by cyclists not bureaucrats

    Finally, racing and transport are different things, one should always wear a helmet when racing, just as F1 divers do. How many motorists wear helmets when driving?

    1. Thanks Cath,
      Our civil law which is used to decide compensation cases does not say failing to wear a cycle causes accidents. What it does say is that if an injury could have been avoided, or substantially reduced, then your compensation can be reduced to take account of that. The other side of the coin is why should the person, or their insurance company, who caused the accident have to pay for your choice not to wear a helmet?
      It is early days for the law in this area, and it will keep developing. At the moment it is difficult to show a helmet would have saved you as the helmets are not yet good enough. Look at a motorcycle helmet and compare it with a cycle helmet. Just because cyclists do not travel as fast as motorcyclists does not mean they need less protection, as it is the speed of impact and what you hit that matters.

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