Wear a helmet when cycling: Yes or no?

cyclist helmetLorraine Warren is the author of The UnCheshire Wife In the news recently there has been lots of discussion and debate about cyclists wearing helmets. Wear one/don’t wear one, would it be of benefit? Lorraine wants to bring her own personal story to your attention in the hope you might think twice about the importance of wearing a helmet when cycling.

I’ve known my husband for a long time. A year before we got together as a couple his 17-year-old daughter died in a road accident. She was coming home from a friend’s house and was knocked off her bicycle by a lorry.

She was on the inside of the lane, he took the slip road to his left, he didn’t see her,  he didn’t indicate, she was knocked off her bike. She wasn’t wearing a helmet.

She had no visible injuries at all except for a minor scrape to her hand, but the bump to her head was fatal and after a week, the life support was switched off.

That was 20 years ago.

No one could say if a helmet would have saved her life but we think it could have, so having boys who love bikes you would think we were strict sticklers for a helmet. No, we are not.

When they were young they wore helmets all the time but as they grew into teens the helmets have generally been rejected. We have endured tears and upset trying to convince them to wear a helmet, but to no avail.  They want to be like their friends despite knowing what happened to their sister .

I did some research looking for information but there are so many differing views. This is what The Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust promote:

The charity is a national resource working with parents, teachers, police, road safety officers, Government departments and healthcare professionals by promoting and providing educational programmes in schools on the need for helmet use and safer cycling practice throughout the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland

But it’s all so conflicting as I then read this from Britain’s biggest Pro-Cycling Charity  CTC.

Roger Geffen, at the CTC, says: “The only known effect of helmet laws has been massive falls in cycle use – typically by over 30 per cent, with much steeper reductions among teenagers.”

I can see how that’s true, when we first took a stand about the helmets the boys just stopped riding their bikes.

Now they’re 25 and 13. I don’t know what the answer is, I just know Santa has delivered another bike this year as he has to hundreds of children across the country. I’d rather it came with a helmet law, what do you think?

You can find Lorraine on Twitter as @nortonmum she says – I have written about our experience due to recent events and discussions in the news regarding cyclists and helmets. I am Mum to a young teen, and blog about parenting from a mums view although often in funny poems. 

 

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9 Responses to Wear a helmet when cycling: Yes or no?

  1. Tom @Ideas4Dads 13 January 2014 at 13:49 #

    In my humble opinion the wearing of cycle helmets should be law for all ages 🙂

    • nortonmum 14 January 2014 at 14:31 #

      Yes, I agree with you.

  2. sarahhillwheeler 13 January 2014 at 16:01 #

    So refreshing to see such a balanced post. Personally, I insist son wears a helmet, OH wears one too, but I don’t own or use one. Perhaps I should. I think my reluctance goes back to not having to as a child and a spot of rebellion (for my sins, I also ignore OH’s insistence that I wear body armour when I horse ride).

    On reflection, I am probably being very selfish. I’m way too old to run the freedom/rebellion argument, but I can also get where those teenagers are coming from.

    I’d like to see all youngsters wearing helmets, but I do think it would be a mistake to make them if it resulted in them giving up cycling, so food for thought here.

  3. Charlotte Dale 14 January 2014 at 14:33 #

    If it was law then kids wouldn’t feel like they stand out if they wear one. I lived in Australia for 3 years and as it was law everyone wore helmets with no questions asked.

  4. Stuart 14 January 2014 at 16:05 #

    Such a tricky subject and as a family who has cycled a great deal in all kinds of places one close to my heart. I’ve always encouraged my kids to wear helmets when riding but also discussed risks with them, and try and get them to consider how they vary from one situation to another. Of course you can fall off a bike anywhere and hit your head, but that said the risks are different riding in city traffic, riding a downhill mountain bike trail and pootling along a quiet traffic free rail trail which might lead to different decisions on whether or not to wear one in different situations. Helmets can be a barrier to cycle use amongst kids, whether for reasons of comfort, fashion (esp amongst girls) or cool. But there are some helmet designs that address this and of course there is the ultimate cool tech solution – the invisible helmet http://www.hovding.com/en/ – of course such cool comes at a price.

  5. Ali at kidschaos.com 14 January 2014 at 20:27 #

    Guilted into it by my son, and relieved by getting away with a close-call last year – first day back on the bike since then, and yes, I wore a helmet…

    my boys are 9 and 11 and always wear helmets (with the exception of one afternoon when I missed the fact that 11yo had NOT put his on – when asked, it was because he’s just washed his hair and didn’t want to spoil it… good grief, I manage, and I’ve got a quiff!)

  6. nortonmum 15 January 2014 at 22:33 #

    So interesting reading everyones opinion, ‘wearing a helmet’ seems to be the more popular one.

  7. Expat Mum 16 January 2014 at 17:01 #

    You know, if one of my kids stopped riding his/her bike rather than wearing a helmet then so be it. On issues of safety (and I definitely believe helmets make a difference), there’s no negotiating.Same with skateboarding; you wear the protective gear or you don’t skateboard. End of.

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