Safety and wearing helmets

I am just curious as to why LCC own media and campaign photos do not show anyone (including children) wearing helmets?

I appreciate this is a freedom of choice issue, but I would have thought as a responsible organisation reflecting safety and cycling at least a percentage (to match the real world) should be wearing helmets? 




This is because cycling is an inherently safe activity, the danger is imposed by motor vehicles and the LCC is trying to bring about safe conditions by removing the danger posed by motor vehicles to cyclists. Such safe conditions would result in a situation similar to that of the Netherlands, where helmets are a rare sight and cycling is safer than anywhere else in the world.

Scientific research into the matter has also been inconclusive in showing any benefit of cycling helmets to safety. 

  • By showes at 8:38pm 7 May 2014

Please do shut up and keep your helment nonsense to yourself ec4cycle

The speed of fall is controlled by gravity, not your forward momentum. Falling from standing and falling from a bike will have a very similar speed of impact.


ec4cycle - do you also wonder why car drivers are never shown wearing helmets despite the fact it's personal choice, and that head injuries kill more people inside cars than outside them?

  • By phufbl at 8:19am 8 May 2014

The guy on the right hand side has a helmet...

No, he isn't wearing it, but then he isn't on his bike is he? I doubt it is just decoration

LCC publicity material shows cyclists in various states of dress and body armour. If little or no thought is given to the numbers of unhelmeted and helmeted individuals pictured, I thoroughly approve, as the intention is to show cycling as a normal activity. Which it is.

Contrast this with the policies of certain other organisations and media outlets which insist on pictured cyclists wearing helmets and lurid clothing visible from orbit. We are here to advocate cycling and promote the interests of cyclists, not engage in public health-related social engineering based on statistically questionable epidemiological evidence.

  • By phufbl at 8:22am 9 May 2014

My previous comment was a little flippant, but largely in agreement with Francis Sedgemore I would say that the aim of the picture was to show a range of different people cycling looking like "normal" people. This makes people who do not cycle identify more with people who do cycle, which may increase public support for cycling and encourage more people to cycle. If the picture showed everyone in a cycling "uniform" with high vis, lycra and helmets it would potentially alienate non-cyclists and create a barrier to cycling in people's minds as they would think they would not identify people who cycle as "people like me".

p.s. the lady in the blue top in the centre also has a helmet.

The evidence for wearing a helmet when cycling is far from proven. An article looking at mandatory helmet use in The New Zealand Medical Journal found an increase in the accident rate of 20% since helmets have been made compulsory. Another study from Canada and published in the British Medical Journal also failed to show any benefit from the introduction of compulsory helmet use. This probably reflects the ineffectiveness of helmets in protecting people from the forces transmitted by a collision involving motor vehicles. 

The real answer as demonstrated in the Netherlands (<1% helmet use) is infrastructure that accomodates all road users instead of the UK car-centric approach to town planning.

The one thing that studies have shown with the introduction of compulsory helmet use for cycling is a significant reduction in the number of people who cycle.

As LCC is an organisation that wishes to increase the number of people who cycle in London it makes perfect sense for them to avoid using images of people (of all ages) wearing helmets.

I believe that wearing helmets should mandatory also for cyclists. Space for cycling is a very good idea and a great campaign, but we(cyclists) should behave safely and protect ourselves no matter what's around us. Falling off a bike can be caused by various situations, not only by getting hit by motor vehicles. 

Few years ago a total stranger(cyclist) told me that I was an idiot not to wear a helmet and that I should have got one. If I didn't listened to him a week later I would have and my head seriously injured when with my entire body weight I landed on it after falling of my bicycle. I thank him and the helmet for doing its job!!I never cycle without ever since.

Today I was happy to join the SPACE FOR CYCLING ride in London, but very disappointed to see that many people weren't wearing helmets including some of those who are leading the campaign. Also none of the people who spoke on the campaign bus mentioned that personal safety equipment and good riding behaviour should be part of a 360 degrees cycling experience.

This is my point of view, I respect the fact that not everyone would agree with me and also think that telling people to shut up and to keep it for themselves ain't very nice and defo not constructive!


Where do you draw the line though? Do you just wear a 'normal' helmet - what about a full-face helmet?  What about gloves for hand protection? What about elbow and knee pads? What about body armour? Should these things be mandatory for riders? What about pedestrians? More pedestrians than cyclists are killed and injured by motor vehicles. Should they wear protective clothing at all times? All the helmets and body armour in the world won't help if a bus of HGV drives over your chest.

The difficulty with being a vulnerable road user is that you can dress ready for battle and behave impeccablyand STILL get killed or injured because of someone else's error. What is needed is environmental changes to engineer the danger out of our roads.

  • By phufbl at 10:46am 19 May 2014

I agree that encouraging good riding behaviour should be part of a holistic approach to road safety. However there is a difference between encouraging safe riding behaviour, which may help to avoid collisions  and wearing a helmet which may mitigate the effect of a collision but would not prevent a collision from happening.

LCC seem to have taken the approach of trying to avoid collisions happening by demanding better road design, better design of HGVs and more bicycle-specific training for HGV drivers. I think that the approach of campaigning to reduce collisions rather than to mitigate the effect of a collision is the correct one. Whether LCC should be doing more to encourage responsible cycling is another discussion. I imagine the LCC argument would be that better road behaviour (and reduced conflict) from all road users can best be encouraged by improving the road layout design

  • By anita at 2:57pm 19 May 2014

Motor vehicles and the layout of roads are not a fact of life like the rain, so we can remove the former and change the latter: that is why I refuse to wear anything special when I go around on a bicycle (though I wear reflective clothing and use lights at night: but that makes me visible to all including pedestrians and other cyclists, and I would rather be able to see them too). But we need to get the danger out of the roads, and that is motor vehicles, and the road design that favours them. Getting on a bike is not like setting off for the moon: it is just an extension of walking. It doesn't require training either in my opinion, at least not for adults (who have developed a way of not crashing into things, whereas children don't seem to), although that may be matter for another debate. I would like to end with this magnificent observation: my illiterate, penniless grandparents all managed to cycle; no helmet, no training, no mobile phone, no credit card, no life insurance ... It is sad that easy things are now presented as difficult: part of the general deskilling of the population and a way of selling things.

  • By showes at 8:15pm 20 May 2014

milk I guess winning about others personal choices is contructive is it? How about rather than bang on about helements focus on things that really can make cycling safe. Once we have fixed all thouse mush more sersious issues we can debate helmemets till the cows come home. Untill then its a pointelss distraction from the real safetey issue. So I say to you too please do shutup and keep your deluded view to yourself.

It's frustrating so much energy is still taken up with helmet debates, here and elsewhere.

Typically, people vastly overestimate the efficacy of a cycle helmet in a collision, and vastly overestimate the actual risk associated with cycling. 

It's also frustrating that supporters frequently express their "disappointment" that we don't only use photos of people with helmets or are seen in public not wearing helmets ourselves.

We can only assume the people who adopt these critical positions are not in full possession of the evidence around the lack of effectiveness of helmets as a means of protecting the individual or as a means of improving public health.

In both instances, evidence shows helmets are of limited or zero benefit, and we stand wholeheartedly behind our protrayal of cycling as a normal everyday activity, for which participants might wear helmets, but equally they might not. 

Certainly when they're standing next to their bikes (as in the photos above), there's no obvious need to wear a helmet, nor is there when cycling at a pedestrian pace on a motor-trafficf-free street, as we did on the Big Ride on Saturday.

well dear showes, i m sorry but i won't shut up and keep my "deluded view" to myself! even when u are so polite to say please!!!!!!!! ;)

Anita i see your point but cars, motorbikes, trucks, cyclists, dogs, cats, foxes, pedestrians, tourists.. are still there and will be for a long time..i admire u guys for the campaign and i do agree with making roads safer, but it's not something that will happen in a couple of days so please, keep fighting for the ideals but in the meantime also wear an helmet cuz it will protect and yes, it can save your life. It did with me..dear London Cycling Campaign, i m glad my helmet wasn't a zero benefit otherwise i'd probably not be here!! and i m not being polemic, but just telling what happened to me in the real current world.

what about the stories at this link below?

Marco, i also see your point and agree when u say to engineer the danger out of our roads, but i don't think the danger would be 100% gone so i'd still protect my head at least.


This post was edited by milk was a baffled choice at 8:51pm 21 May 2014.

Milk - nobody wants to take your choice to wear a helmet away from you. However, you ARE wanting to do just that "I believe that wearing helmets should mandatory also for cyclists".

There are circumstances around every crash that could be changed to eliminate or reduce collision or any resulting injury. Mandating helmet use is certainly not one of these things. What it does do is reduce the number of people cycling, especially on the trips that cycling is best for, like the school run or a quick trip to the shops - normal activities that aren't dangerous in any way. When you reduce the number of people using bikes the roads become more dangerous for those that continue to ride.

This post was edited by marco panettone at 10:38am 22 May 2014.

My mother recently tripped and fell fowards onto the pavement while out walking.  She sustained serious bruising and cuts to her face which required an overnight stay in hostpital.

I am sure a full-face helmet would have saved her from these injuries.  

In the light of this, should families such as those above not consider wearing their helmets while out walking too?   

  • By zoo at 10:12am 24 May 2014

LCC isn't a reflection - it's a campaign for change.

  • By showes at 11:11pm 27 May 2014

Milk you are not adding anything to making cycling safter you are just whining. I dont care that you think a helemt saved your life. Great good for you keep doing what your doing. What you dont appeare to get is no one is trying to force you to change the way you are. However you are clearly not happy letting people be and wish to impose your views on others. I and many others are tired of people like you making the demand that cyclists are always shown with helments, no doubt highvis as well, and maybe gloves, and possibly what ever other saftey gear is flavor of the month in your hosehold. So I beg you one more time please just shut up about it. You keep doing what you are doing and stop trying to push your ideas and views on to other, as its not your business to. You are not making cycling safer you are just being annoying. So be a good lad now and Shhhh!

I have no doubt that ec4cycle is well meaning, as are most who share the opinion that helmets = safety. Instinctive arguments based on anecdote and emotion are very hard to counter, even when presented with evidence based fact. Cognative dissonence and cognative biasis in general come in to play and otherwise clever rational people continue in there beliefs. I you choose to wear one, go right ahead. That said, I think is important that people who seek to persuade others that they should wear a helmet, must realise the potential harm they doing. I'm not talking about harming the cause of mass cycling (although it would). I'm talking very real injury. This isn't something that is just made up. Dedicated long term cyclists who don't wear them aren't fools or reckless. The more you look in to it, the more flimsy the benifits of wearing them become. It's all about where you look. I would recomend going to It is an international scientific resourse that policy makers use when making laws. It dry and academic but it has the latest research evidence, analasis, misleading claims and a section on countries who have made them law (head injuries and fatalitys increase, bizarre but true). If they were effective, organisations like the LCC and the policy advisor the British Cycling and many many others would be highly irresponsible if they didn't tell people to wear them and lobby for it to become law. They don't do this for a reason. It is their job wade through all the academic literature.  So please ec4cycle, as I know you have a consience, if someone asks you should they wear one say 'I do, but go to before making up your mind'. 

Hey that doesn't go anywhere?

The very few times I came off a bike it seemed to me that I was instinctively protecting my head and holding my hands out.

Has there been any research to show that wearing a helmet interferes with this instinct in some way?


Also, nice to see someone above pointing out that the destructive energy of hitting your head on the ground and the time available to react, will be a product of gravity and the height from which you fell - and not the speed at which you were going. Kind of anyway.

I was actually trying to answer properly but I can't...I honestly can't understand why people who ride everyday keep seeing those awckward lemon'slices be an effective solution to the road safety problems.. 

if you like to ride as fast as in a tour the france's stage but you are too scared to demand your right on the road, try Spinning.. it's more or less the same.. 

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