Economics‎ > ‎Choice‎ > ‎Forced Action‎ > ‎Safety‎ > ‎


What is a cycle?


A bicycle, motorcycle, tricycle, etc.

Wider definition

What's wrong with cycle safety?

Most people will voluntarily adhere to cycle safety, but some can't afford it on top of other cycling costs. And hence will not cycle.

Cycle safety

Safety gear

  • Bike lights (+ batteries)
  • Cycle helmets (ideally replaced every 6 months if active cyclist)
  • High vis jackets
  • Anti pollution mask
  • Goggles
  • Padding
  • Bells
  • Body armour
  • Mirror
  • Reflectors
  • Sunglasses
  • The bike ( some bikes models are safer than others)
In addition to this, the age or the bicycle or rust on the frame may affect safety, so upkeep of bike is needed.

So which ones of these should be made compulsory and what is the justification for that?


Maybe we should all wear all the possible safety gear all the time and suits of bubble wrap too. How about we only bike during the sunniest hours of the day, or when there's low traffic to avoid risk.

I suspect there is almost no-one who does the above, they would rather not bike. We have to assume that those who bike accept that there is a chance of a fall,collision or accident and they might not know the probability, but are comfortable enough to go ahead.

Each person has their own risk preferences, and according will decide to equip themselves with the safety gear they are willing to wear or to cycle at all. If the government decides the minimum risk level, some people will just decide not to cycle when they would have otherwise, but there will still be accidents and deaths on the road.

Why must cycle helmets and lights be compulsory, when other safety gear not?

Everything in life has an element of risk, it should be down to the individual to make the choice to wear on not to wear safety gear and not be legislated. It would be to costly to legislate and make people comply with minimum risk for everything. There are already laws for harming someone else's person.

If we took the same attitude to pedestrians then they should also wear helmets then to prevent them having a head injury.


One of the reasons people cycle is for enjoyment. Wearing safety gear can affect that.
  • Helmets uncomfortable and obstructive.
  • Helmets detracts from the leisurely experience of cycling.

False sense of security 

  • Some people certainly feel more aware without a helmet.
  • When drivers see cyclists without safety gear sometimes they drive more carefully around them.

Legislating for cycle helmets


  • There's no way the police have got the resources to enforce it.
  • If helmets become law, it will put many kids off cycling all together, thus denying them the health benefits
  • The risks of discouraging cycling by adding expense and bureaucracy would appear to outweigh the flimsy evidence for improved safety.

Head injuries are extremely rare when cycling, it's hands, elbows, shoulders and knees that get hammered, and this was borne out in research by ROSPA years ago 
How about cyclists just stay off the road?

There are lots of activities where wearing a helmet might protect individuals from head injuries in the event of an accident, driving or being a passenger in a car for example. Why don't we make that compulsory? Or would the motor industry have something to say about that?

Terms and conditions

If you are going to bring in a law, should it be one size fits all?

Should the compulsory helmets apply to everywhere, or:
  • Just the public roads
  • Only in urban areas
  • Only in busy areas/zones
Does the law take account if the cyclist is safe or dangerous.
  • Does the law take into account if a cyclist normally rides fast and recklessly or slow and carefully. 
  • Old people with slower reaction times are more likely to want to wear helmets.

Will the law allow an opt out?

What gear is more important?

In a cycling accident your hands go down first, so gloves are the most important bit of protective clothing.

Alternatives to safety gear


  • Better training for youngsters and more awareness, educationally or legally, for drivers
  • Bicycles should be treated as scooters/mopeds/motorcycles; Insurance , Competence testing, lighting/safety equipment , personal protective equipment and vehicle tax. Why should cyclists get a free ride?
  • Cars and lorries do NOT kill cyclists. Bad driving AND bad cycling kill cyclists
  • Wearing a helmet (or seatbelt) isn't a 'road safety' measure. They may mitigate the consequence of an accident but they don't make roads 'safer' by preventing accidents happening in the first place. 
  • It should be illegal to pass a cyclist with 10 feet on main road –wait for a gap.
  • Riders should ride in a predictable manner that does not require other road users to react suddenly to your movements.
  • Riders should give hand signals
Responsibility: What we need is more responsible driving and cycling 

Road design

Could the road be designed differently to reduce the need for safety gear?
Better designed road junctions.


Link165 Very interesting points not yet digested - Proof cycle helmets do not help.
Link166 Very interesting points not yet digested - Proof cycle helmets do not help.


Link168 Call for Helmet laws      417