Cycling Around the World


Safety Helmet or Not?

Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on April 27, 2015 at 12:40 AM

Safety Helmet or Not?

Understandable and widely excepted, is the feeling that wearing a safety helmet when mountain biking trails and woodlands, could save your life if you went flying through the air and into a tree, or over the edge of a large drop to the ground below, but what about cycling on ordinary roads? Some say it is safer not to wear a helmet, and other of course do, so why is it safe not to wear one? Of course, if the law says you wear one, you wear one.

The same is said for high visibility clothing, some say it is safer to wear it, others say it isn’t, and of course if the law says you wear it, then you wear it.

I have been reading a lot about how safety helmets are not necessarily safe, and how brightly coloured clothing, a helmet, and lights during the day, might make it worse for your safety.

Hard to imagine that I am even discussing this, but it has been shown in some studies that the more protection you have on and the more visible you are to a driver, the less the driver feels he has to give you more space or take extra care with you. It is widely accepted that there is no real evidence to say that a helmet has saved more lives than cyclists without helmets.

It has been said that if you look unsafe, then people are more likely to avoid you. Isn’t that just crazy? I find it hard to believe that you pad yourself up and light yourself up like a Christmas tree, only to make yourself more vulnerable!

Being on some forums, every person I read about who had been hit on their bikes, was wearing at least some hi-viz clothing and a helmet. When I was knocked down by an articulated lorry as a pedestrian, I had hi-viz leggings and jacket.

Now surely, if the police and ambulance drivers all wear hi-viz, it has to work right?  


A helmet has been shown to protect your head when you hit your head on the floor or other hard surface when you’re not moving along at speed, but at speed a helmet has been shown to catch on things and cause the head and neck to suffer damage they wouldn’t have done if there had been no helmet, but maybe the head might catch instead. That’s not to say you will not receive injury, you likely will, but in a different way to not wearing a helmet.

Myself, well I am lit up like a Christmas tree, and I do wear a helmet on the road. Not just because it’s the law here, but because I feel better protected and I do feel safer for wearing the helmet and I do feel much safer feeling I can be seen from a distance. I get that I could be making myself a target to those that don’t feel they have to give me much space because I am so well protected, but I can’t help but feel that I would be asking for trouble if I didn’t wear a helmet or high visibility clothing.

During the day too, I wear a bright yellow cycling top and a helmet. I have a mirror on my handle bars to see what is coming up behind me and I also have a bright yellow vest that I put over my yellow cycling top, that has its own LED lights flashing on it.

Whether some say its safer without safety clothing or with, I will be wearing it, I just feel much safer and feel that at least I will be seen from a distance.


Categories: Safety and Health

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