Ah, the great helmet debate. This time it's reared its ugly head in the form of a dry paper entitled Evaluating the health benefit of bicycle helmet laws by Piet de Jonga of Macquarie University in Australia.

The paper is attached below. I won't pretend to understand the formulae it contains but essentially it's an exercise in pitting a single cost of cycling (accidents) against a single benefit (exercise), assigning some numbers to the two and trying to estimate the impact of helmet compulsion which MAY reduce injuries and MAY also reduce cycling participation.

So what does Piet conclude? Well in essence he concludes this:

Using widely cited estimates of the exercise benefit of cycling, costs of head injuries and reductions in cycling leads to the conclusion that bicycle helmet laws do not deliver a positive societal health benefit.

Discuss. There's already plenty of heated discussion on the New Scientist thread about the paper: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17032-bicycle-helmet-laws-could-do...

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.


DaSy [872 posts] 10 years ago

The comment by Roger Geffen of CTC was good. I am a non-helmet wearer who believes firmly that there is no requirement for a compulsory law for cyclists to wear helmets.

The risk of head injury is small when cycling, and it appears strange to me that as a society we should single out this one activity for legislation whilst avoiding things like walking, showering and DIY, which are all vastly more risky and account for many more head injuries and deaths than cycling.