Maisie’s right: we should wear helmets when cycling

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The wearing of cycle helmets is a peculiar subject to have become controversial – at first glance you’d think that having one was a good thing, no questions asked.

But even among keen cyclists there is a keen debate, with many coming out against them – or at least making them compulsory.

Firstly there is the argument that cycle helmets and hi-vis clothing only deal with the effect of dangerous cycling conditions, rather than the cause.

Some say that we should focus attempts on creating safer cycle paths, and so on, not on just mitigating the current road conditions.

Others believe that helmets engender a false sense among motorists that cyclists are somehow ‘safe’ already, and that drivers don’t need to take as much care around them, the logic being that if one sees a bare-headed rider one might take more care if driving.

Both points may have some credence – and indeed the Netherlands is one of the safest places to cycle and hardly anyone wears a helmet – but we would rather be safe than sorry.

Many medical experts have pointed out that the cushioning a helmet can provide if the worst comes to the worst can be the difference between life and death, or at least normal life and dramatically-changed life.

And given that chance, we would always argue that helmets should be worn. It’s not all about motorists either – all it takes is for ice or oil to be on a road and a bike will struggle, or for a cat to bolt out and shock a rider into skidding. Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself the best chance or emerging unscathed?

And so we back Maisie Godden-Hall’s campaign to make cycle helmets compulsory. Good on her for taking action after her own worrying experience to make a difference, and good on her for talking so eloquently and articulately about it.

People’s own experiences are almost always the most effective way of getting a message across. The fact that Maisie can point to a cycle helmet and say ‘that saved my life’ is a point that should stay with whoever hears it.