Should London bike hire scheme loan helmets?

London is one of the busiest places in the world: narrow streets clogged with double-decker buses, taxis and huge delivery lorries.  There are some who feel that a cycle helmet is uncool or moan about having ‘helmet hair’ but surely that is better than your head being squashed after a crash.  For me I wear a helmet in the same way I wear a seatbelt when I’m driving a car – it is natural.

Until the government sees sense and decides to make the use of helmets compulsory, the wearing of them needs to be encouraged as much as possible by all, including the media – especially in these days of reduced NHS budgets.  Lots of people question their effectiveness but I know aged 16 I would have suffered a serious brain injury when I was knocked off my bike into a tree if hadn’t have worn a helmet, which ended up with a large crack in it.

I understand that a requirement to wear a helmet may limit casual cyclists using the hire scheme on impulse.  But equally should users be expected to carry around helmets with them all day on the off chance they might choose to hire one of these bikes?  A possible solution may be attaching helmets to the cycles or having dispensers at the docking stations.

Of course a helmet does not make the wearer invincible, and cyclists need to ride with care, not going through red lights or being unaware of the blind spots of large vehicles or putting pedestrians at risk.

A TfL spokesman has said:

“The use of cycle helmets is not a legal requirement.  In addition, for a helmet to be effective it has to be the appropriate size and fitted properly.”

I think this is really interesting discussion point and would be interested to hear other people’s views on this.

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3 thoughts on “Should London bike hire scheme loan helmets?

  1. Cycle helmets are not a legal requirement. But if you have an accident on a bike and you’re not wearing a cycle helmet then you’re going to get hurt quite badly. That’s why they made seatbelts a legal requirement in cars. Yes, cars go a lot faster – (legally in the UK) up to 70mph. But in a bike you have far less protection than a car – like you don’t have a roof, or doors, or…

    Also, people just don’t see bikes. Nearly got hit by an occardo van recently – and I was wearing a HiViz jacket and had my lights on (and of course was wearing a helmet). If the other side of the road wasn’t clear that could’ve been nasty.

  2. I do wear a helmet when I ride my bike, mainly from habit as when I started cycling as an adult I actually thought it was compulsory and now it just feels like the normal thing to do.

    Having said that I do not like the idea of making helmet wearing compulsory for a couple of reasons:

    1) It gives the impression that cycling is a dangerous activity when in fact it is actually pretty safe.
    2) When introduced in Australia, compulsory helmet laws reduced the use of bikes, especially amongst young people.

    I think we have enough problems trying to get people to use bikes in this country and to put something into law that would put people off doesn’t seem to be the best way forward for me.

    As for helmets on a hire scheme, most of the journeys are only going to be of a few minutes long (it’s only free for half an hour) and probably not much more dangerous than being a pedestrian in london so I can see why they are not providing them.

  3. Pingback: Top Posts and Referrers for October 2011 « Chris Kidd: Tales from the Handlebars

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