Friday 30 August 2013

My Message to Laura Trott

Dear Laura,


Ok. It will probably take a few more words than that, but the above word pretty much sums it all up.

Laura you are undoubtedly an amazing track and road sports cyclist, one that me and my family were shouting for at the top of our lungs at the recent Glasgow track World Cup event in Glasgow. Today you told us that cyclists are muppets and that the only way to protect muppets is to get the muppets to wear helmets.

From Toy Nerd wesbite
I suppose it will protect from Miss Piggy's violent tendencies.

Seriously though, let's get one thing straight. Helmets are NOT the answer. Helmets, will not make our roads safer. Helmets will not save people lives.

Sure, we've all heard it...

I fell off my bike my helmet cracked! I'm only here because I wore my helmet!


I'd really love to know how you know your sister was saved by her helmet? 

You know what, I can't actually be bothered getting into the science of helmets, the fact that if they are cracked that they have actually failed in their protection, the fact that they are only rated in a collision with a very particular type of impact at below 12mph. The fact that by increasing the cross-sectional area of your head it can actually increase the likelihood of your head hitting the ground in a crash.

I'm not going to even link to any information from experts that show that at best the jury is out on whether helmets actually improve outcomes or make them worse. Yes, that's right, it is possible that helmets could actually lead to more deaths and injuries.

I'm going to do one thing. I am going to post a link to this video and I am going to ask you to watch it. After you have watched it I am going to ask you one question. Watch it closely.

Ok. My question is many cyclists were wearing helmets in that clip?

Remember this is in rush hour. Not only that, but some of these cyclists were weaving in and out of other traffic (yes cyclists are traffic), and....yes I know it's terrible, some of them even ran red lights...the scoundrels.

Yes Laura the answer is none.

So is Amsterdam (the place that this rush hour video is from) awash with cycling deaths and injuries? Are these cyclists taking huge risks with their lives by not wearing a magic piece of plastic?


Oh, look, I've come to the same word I started off with.


Do we need helmet compulsion?


Will forcing people to wear helmets make cycling significantly safer?


When you look at helmet adverts in the magazines do they ever focus on how this helmet is better than any other helmet, not because it has better ventilation or it's a pretty shape, but instead because it is safer than it's competitors?


Did Amsterdam, the rest of the Netherlands, and a growing number of enlightened nations and cities make cycling safe for it's citizens by calling cyclists muppets and forcing them to wear polystyrene on their heads?


Let's end all this nonsense once and for all. We do not need helmets.

We do not need people who happen to be able to make bikes go faster than the rest of us, but who obviously haven't spent a lot of time researching cycle safety (sorry Laura, but that is blatantly obvious), telling us that we need helmet compulsion. The problem is that because you can ride a bike faster than the rest of us, people listen to you. Therefore, you have a responsibility to us all to research your comments on safe cycling before you make them. If you had, you would realise what we really need is  investment in our streets to make them cycle safe, just as Amsterdam has done and continues to do. Yes, you mention this, but mentioning it at the same time as helmet compulsion....well.....the article is only going to go one way, isn't it?

Laura, I beg you, if you really want to make Britain a cycle friendly nation, put pressure on the government to invest REAL money in cycling, and take a step back from the victim blaming helmet nonsense. Support #space4cycling, support Get Britain Cycling, support us at Pedal on Parliament up here in Scotland and write to your MP.

Please, please, PLEASE don't mention helmets again.

Many thanks


P.S. Please don't support the Nice Way Code either.....


  1. 100% agree with all of the above. Though I did almost think it was going to be a NWC-free post...

  2. You're wrong in a big way.. Infact cyclist should be made to wear full face crash helmets like motor cyclists. Laura is a pro cyclist who knows what she's talking about, you're some bloke who rides to work and looks for trouble with your spy camera.
    Personally I think if the government impose a compulsory helmet law then lots of people will choose not to cycle, if people don't cycle then they can't be knocked off their bike.

    1. True. Also if we banned cars on the roads, much less accidents would happen. Going by your logic.

  3. David, my friend and colleague shared this with me last night on Google+, Martin is a Police Crash Scene Investigator, this incident happened in past few weeks.

    Helmets do not stop serious head injuries or death.

    "+mike quinn I had to share this story with you. I am not directly involved in this incident but I have been getting updated by my Crash Investigation colleagues.

    My old Crash Investigation Supervisor was Sgt name removed (retired 2012). He cycled to work almost every day, was the lead in our around Arran cycling trips, cycled a lot in his spare time, etc - kind of like you, a very experienced cyclist with good quality cycling equipment.

    Anyway, a few weeks ago he was found at the roadside on the Eaglesham Moor Road with some horrific injuries, the most significant being a major bleed on the brain. It was believed to be a hit and run type incident but after lots of careful forensic enquiry, the cause of the incident has now been established as a failed seatpost clamp.

    It would appear that a sudden failure of this has caused the seat to collapse which has caused him to lose control of the bike, fall from it, strike his head (while wearing a very good quality helmet) and suffer a major head injury.

    I understand that he was not expected to live at first but although he has now stablised, I understand that the brain injury he has been left with will basically leave him as a vegetable for the remainder of his life.

    All for the failure of a component that likely costs under £10. I am sure that you keep a good check of everything on your bike but equally I am sure that he did too. PLEASE have a good look at your seatpost clamp for signs of wear/strain!

    Safe cycling..."

  4. The Standard article linked to in Dave's article has a survey on helmet compulsion. Go and vote!

  5. If you actually look at the Standard piece there is a picture of Ms Trott riding a bike without a helmet on, as indeed Mr Wiggins was pictured riding bikes with his son, both sans chapeau, whilst demanding compulsory helmet wearing. Double standards? Especially as in Laura's case she's also got a union flag unsecured across her shoulders, ready to slip into the rear wheel and riding with 1 hand - not in full control of the bike ... not a good example to set?

    Given that over a few million years we've developed some fine safety systems, which too many folk then switch off, and a basic body that operates at a top design speed of around 20mph - that means that a flat on impact of the skull at 20mph imposes forces to around 30% of the impact capacity of the skull but well past (260%) the impact capacity of a typical cycle helmet. (The skull strength figures come from research in the 1940's) Brain injury comes from the brain being violently accelerated inside the skull, frequently by rotation, and the addition of a large shell on top, especially if used (as it is not designed to be used) perched atop a woollen hat or balaclava is perfectly set up to maximise the rotational forces, and the leverage imposed on the key upper 5 spinal vertebra as the head can be forced back against the weight of the rest of the body - break C1 and it will be a miracle if you live C2 a miracle if you are not paralysed if you get the picture. All such detail is enhanced by wearing a larger than head lid. by contrast the skull has a useful self repairing covering that shears away rather than snatching - lots of blood, that's true, but it is delivering the protection that evolution has proved to work, and without the encumberance of a helmet, it becomes much easier to tuck into a hedgehog-like ball and roll down the road, as I have done on occasion.

    I've had a few crashes over the past 49 years of riding around as transport, and in at least 2 instances have avoided far worse injury because I was not wearing a helmet - so I prefer to make it my call on my choice.

  6. Personally I'm not bothered if cyclists wear helmets or not, just as long as drivers (in the event of a collision) aren't blamed for injuring those who don't wear them. Big dave here and many other cyclists who are against helmets actually wear a helmet... Hypocrisy at it's finest. Who are these protesters to gamble with children's safety? If I cycled I would definitely wear something to protect my head, I mean it's common sense really..
    Safe cycling everybody............

    1. So if a driver injuries someone wearing a helmet then they can be blamed?

      That logic is beyond stupid and discounts the driver (or cyclists) behaviour and conditions of the hypothetical collision. It prejudges rather than takes each collision as an individual event of which the cause needs to be investigated.

      To think anything else is daft and dangerous.

  7. Laura is spot on. Cyclists who don't wear helmets are no different to drivers who don't wear seatbelts. Cyclists think they're above the law and untouchable.

    1. The difference is that seatbelts have been proven to work, not the case with helmets. The whole point is that people on bicycles are being forced unnecessarily to ride in dangerous conditions. Did you read the post and watch the video.start following the argument properly instead of having a knee jerk reaction and it's hard not to be convinced.

    2. They would be true if helmets were compulsory but they're not, so your argument falls on its arse really.

      If anyonethinks they're above the law, it's the +10000 drivers who have more than 12 points on their license yet are allowed to continue to drive. It's the drivers of the estimated 30% of vehicles on the road who do not have insurance, not have paid VED, so literally use the roads for free.

  8. All the same arguements against wearing helmets are being put forward as they were years ago with regard to compulsory crash helmets for motorbike riders - wrong then and wrong now - please see sense and protect your head - it's the only one you'll ever have !!

    1. And the arguments are wrong because...reasons?