Bradley’s Helmet Call

A topic that I will probably return to many times, and a suitable one for my initial blog post – cycle helmets!

Up until a few days ago, Bradley Wiggins was a hero of mine. Winning le Tour, being a nice-chap, having a huge collection of guitars – all things I can only dream of. But, after winning his Gold Medal in the time trial at the Olympics, was asked to comment on the tragic death of a cyclist just outside the Olympic Park. One thing he seemed to suggest was that helmet wearing should be compulsory (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19090898).

The first thing that sprung to mind was why was he even being asked for his views? Is Jenson Button asked to comment every time someone is hurt in a car crash? Is Paula Ratcliffe asked for her views whenever someone gets run over? Bradley is a sportsman – a great sportsman – but he is not, as far as I know, a road safety expert.

This seems to part of the media’s (and, by association, the Great British Public’s) inability to disentangle the sport of cycling from the everyday activity of riding a bike. Things that apply to one do not apply to the other, and, just as Formula 1 racing is very different to driving down to the Co-Op, everyday cycling is very different to the type of cycling Bradley does.

Anyway, I disagree with Bradley’s idea, and later reports state that Bradley claims he was misunderstood. Fair enough.

Here are my ideas for how cycling can be made safer (in no particular order);

  1. lower (and enforced) speed limits on residential and urban streets
  2. a commitment from highway authorities to filling in potholes
  3. if cycle facilities are to be installed (I remain unconvinced as to whether they are actually a good thing), they must meet the published guidelines
  4. no-fault liability for motorists
  5. blind-spot mirrors on all large vehicles
  6. cycle training to be made available to everyone who wants it
  7. a lower drink-drive limit
  8. enforcement of existing traffic laws (especially those regarding mobile-phone use and overtaking on double-white lines)
  9. conversion of large roundabouts to continental geometries
  10. cyclist-awareness refresher courses for drivers of buses and HGVs

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