In focus: The cycling helmet

As the debate whether the wearing of cycling helmets should be made compulsory or not continues, cyclists are left to wonder just what all the fuss is about. In a nutshell, the debate centres predominantly on two main questions, namely a) whether cycling helmets really can prevent serious head injuries in cycling accidents and b) whether making helmets compulsory will result in more and more people giving up cycling and subsequently begin to suffer from ill health due to lack of exercise.

Cycling helmets and road traffic accidents

According to, a branch of the BRHF (Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation), evidence about cycle helmets’ effectiveness is contradictory to say the least (

Essentially, research conducted by an array of organisations, institutes and other bodies suggests that cycling helmets may or may not prevent head and facial injuries by road accidents involving cyclists. One study, conducted in 2003 by Engesaeter, Hansen and Viste (, suggests that cyclists under the age of nine wearing foam helmets are four times more likely to receive facial injuries than helmet-free cyclists of the same age, while case-control studies conducted in 2002 by Larsen ( revealed that in collisions with motor vehicles, cycling helmets have on occasion been found to be ineffective.

In direct contrast to this, studies by Rivara, Thompson and Thompson in 1989 ( and 1996 ( suggest all types of cycling helmet protect all cyclists under all circumstances, regardless of whether motorised vehicles are involved or not.

Traffic accidents involving cyclists

With such contradictions and confusion among scientists (and politicians), there is little wonder cyclists are unsure as to what really is the right thing to do. All in all, it appears to be a case of whether you are wearing a helmet or not, the likelihood of incurring injuries (and their severity) in bicycle accidents depends a great deal on where and how you ride your cycle, and on the awareness and reactions of other road users.

Bicycle injury compensation

With or without a helmet (at the moment, the choice to wear or not to wear is still yours to make), accidents will happen. If you were injured in a cycle accident through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim for injury compensation. Call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 to confidentially discuss your circumstances and initiate your personal injury claim. All claim processes are conducted under conditional fee agreements (no win, no fee*).

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