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Sir Bradley Wiggins: Reaction to Geraint Thomas’s helmet comments reflect his status as Tour de France champion

"He's the Tour de France winner now, and everyone wants to know his view on certain things like he's some sort of Messiah” ...

Sir Bradley Wiggins says that the reaction to Geraint Thomas’s comments that cycle helmets should be made compulsory for riders in the UK reflect the Welshman’s status as the latest winner of cycling’s biggest race.

In 2012, Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, and discovered that winning the yellow jersey brought with it a degree of fame and media attention beyond that which had previously come with winning Olympic gold medals.

His own view, expressed the following year and repeated several times since that people riding bikes in the UK should be required to wear a helmet – the Highway Code only recommends that cyclists do so – saw him hit the headlines, just as Thomas’s comments, made in an interview with yesterday’s Sunday Times, have.

> Geraint Thomas says cycle helmets should be compulsory

Speaking in The Bradley Wiggins Show vodcast which made its debut on Eurosport during the Tour de France and has returned for the Vuelta, Wiggins said: “I feel a bit sorry for him [Thomas] really, because I don't know what his views are.

"Geraint has been concentrating on what he's been trying to do – win the Tour de France. The last month he's been preoccupied with that, and all of a sudden he comes back from the Tour de France and everyone wants to know what he thinks about certain topics.

"I don't know what capacity it was asked in, but I'm sure it was just, 'what do you think about helmets?'. And just to maybe appease people, having no strong views on it, he probably thought of saying yeah, they should be made [compulsory].

"But it's caused just as much uproar by saying that as by saying 'I don't think you should have to wear a helmet' which would probably have been equal front page news.

"It's one of those things if you don't have a strong opinion on it either way,” added Wiggins, who rode alongside Thomas as Team GB won gold in the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with the pair joining Team Sky when it was set up at the end of the following year.

 “He's the Tour de France winner now, and everyone wants to know his view on certain things like he's some sort of Messiah,” Wiggins continued.

Thomas himself was rather taken aback by the strength of feeling his comments unleashed on social media and pointed out on Twitter that it was just one opinion expressed in an interview that lasted an hour – albeit, the one that the Sunday Times chose to feature on its front page yesterday.

But former world and Olympic champion Chris Boardman, who in recent years has turned to cycle campaigning and is now Greater Manchester’s Cycling & Walking Commissioner, told the Welshman that it was a view he once shared, until he began researching the issue.

“Exactly what I thought when I was a pro,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s an intuitive stance until you research levels of danger compared to other things we do helmet-less and crucially, the unintended consequences.”

Regarding the attention that Thomas’s comments had garnered, Boardman added: “Comes with the job I’m afraid, you talk, people listen.”

Wiggins also echoed that sentiment, saying: "This is one of the ways [Thomas’s life has changed]; you're supposed to have the answers to all these questions.

"Someone like Chris Boardman is far more in a position to understand all the detail around a question like that, but as the Tour de France winner Geraint's now in a position where people expect him to answer those questions."

Wiggins’ own stance on the subject of whether cycle helmets should be compulsory seems to have softened.

"I think it should be a choice still,” he said. “There's a responsibility to kids, but when you're an adult you should be able to make that decision for yourself.”

He added: "I think there are other things in terms of road safety and safety towards cyclists that should be implemented before helmets are made compulsory."

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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48 comments

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RTB | 5 years ago
1 like

(Cycle) Helmets *can* save lives, simple as.  Not a panacea but in certain instances a life-saver.

Why so sure?  If it were not for a helmet I would not be here today.  Even with a helmet I suffered a brain haemorrhage and concussion, all of which would have been direct impact to my skin and bone = dead or vegetable.  The helmet was trashed, my head survived.  I was cycling at 23+ mph, the car that hit me from behind was doing 50mph and according to his witness statement did not slow.  No idea, due to total amnesia, how/where my head impacted with something but it did.  The rest of my body was totally trashed but I am on the mend.

I am not with the band who demands making helmets compulsory, free will should reign, but every time I see (saw) someone riding on the road without a helmet (rare on a performance bike) I would think 'dumb, dumb, dumb'.

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reippuert | 5 years ago
2 likes

Mandentory helmets is a stupid idea if you want to move person transport from cars to bicyles. comment shows that the UK is a 3rd world country when it comes to adopting an reintruducing the bicycle as a method of transportation the reduces costs, air polution,, and CO2 emissions ( the two latter are NOT the same) and Increase public health. Any person transport on bicycle as opposed to flying, car, bus or train adds is an improvement of puplic health.

 

Mandentory helmets in sporting events: im all for it.

Campaigs to increae usase oif helmets: im all for it, just like lights on the bike and functional brakes.

For person transport: its a stupid idea. There is a reaon for why a bicycle helmet is not mandentory in the Neatherlands or in Denmark where the bicycle as a person transportation viacle in metropolitan arreas  dominates cars and even bus/metro/s-bann.

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kingleo | 5 years ago
4 likes

About a thousand pedestrians a year are killed falling down stairs - make it compulsory for pedestrians to wear crash helmets.

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J90 | 5 years ago
5 likes

Yeah because compulsory helmet laws have worked so well in Australia....oh wait.

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kev-s | 5 years ago
1 like

Looks like ive touched a nerve with some people lol

Not going to get in to a debate as its just not worth it

Tell you what, the best thing to do is make it illegal for any one to wear a helmet full stop

So thats cyclists, motor cyclists (prob the ones who need one the most) racing car drivers, American footballers etc...

Do that for 5 years and record how many deaths/brain damage there are directly due to a head injury

Then make it compulsary to wear a helmet for cyclists, motor cyclists, racing car drivers, American footballers etc....

Do that for 5 years then compare the results!!!!

 

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davel replied to kev-s | 5 years ago
7 likes
kev-s wrote:

Looks like ive touched a nerve with some people lol

Not going to get in to a debate as its just not worth it

Tell you what, the best thing to do is make it illegal for any one to wear a helmet full stop

So thats cyclists, motor cyclists (prob the ones who need one the most) racing car drivers, American footballers etc...

Do that for 5 years and record how many deaths/brain damage there are directly due to a head injury

Then make it compulsary to wear a helmet for cyclists, motor cyclists, racing car drivers, American footballers etc....

Do that for 5 years then compare the results!!!!

 

Or you could just look at evidence that currently exists. 

I'm not sure you touched a nerve the way you think you did. Some people just like shouting at idiots. 

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srchar replied to kev-s | 5 years ago
8 likes
kev-s wrote:

Looks like ive touched a nerve with some people lol

Just because some people disagree with you, doesn't mean you've "touched a nerve - lol".

kev-s wrote:

Not going to get in to a debate as i can't form a coherent argument

FTFY

Organon wrote:

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for brain surgery or care for someone in a vegetative state for the rest of their life.

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for surgery to remove tumours caused by obesity, treat heart attacks caused by obesity, or provide care for someone suffering from type 2 diabetes caused by obesity for the rest of their life.

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Feckthehelmet | 5 years ago
5 likes

I have cycled since I was 6 years old. I am now 53. Never worn a helmet, never will. Geraint keep your alleged wit and wisdom to yourself.
It should be the rider's choice. Oh and before those who are sitting out there waiting to be offended, I have worked for 35 years paying tax and N.I. So I have paid in for any injuries that might happen

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Organon replied to Feckthehelmet | 5 years ago
0 likes
Feckthehelmet wrote:

I have cycled since I was 6 years old. I am now 53. Never worn a helmet, never will. Geraint keep your alleged wit and wisdom to yourself. It should be the rider's choice. Oh and before those who are sitting out there waiting to be offended, I have worked for 35 years paying tax and N.I. So I have paid in for any injuries that might happen

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for brain surgery or care for someone in a vegetative state for the rest of their life. Perhaps if that is you Lord Sugar, you might have paid your way; or perhaps not as he wears one. Not that the state should mandate you to wear one to protect you(us) from your misfortune, but your luck or otherwise over 47 years is not a protection if you chose to headbutt a windscreen.

 

The obsession and self delusion that persuaded you to create that username suggests to me that you can't possibly be right.

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davel replied to Organon | 5 years ago
7 likes
Organon wrote:
Feckthehelmet wrote:

I have cycled since I was 6 years old. I am now 53. Never worn a helmet, never will. Geraint keep your alleged wit and wisdom to yourself. It should be the rider's choice. Oh and before those who are sitting out there waiting to be offended, I have worked for 35 years paying tax and N.I. So I have paid in for any injuries that might happen

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for brain surgery or care for someone in a vegetative state for the rest of their life. Perhaps if that is you Lord Sugar, you might have paid your way; or perhaps not as he wears one. Not that the state should mandate you to wear one to protect you(us) from your misfortune, but your luck or otherwise over 47 years is not a protection if you chose to headbutt a windscreen.

 

The obsession and self delusion that persuaded you to create that username suggests to me that you can't possibly be right.

I am sure you 1. don't wear a helmet when you're going for a walk in the hills, or getting in/out of the shower, or crossing a city road, or reaching for your tools in the garage, or driving a car, so 2. haven't got a clue about head injury risk and 3. should pipe down with the lectures.

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vonhelmet replied to Organon | 5 years ago
4 likes
Organon wrote:

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for brain surgery or care for someone in a vegetative state for the rest of their life.

I’d rather die than be left in a vegetative state. Fuck that, with bells on.

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BehindTheBikesheds replied to vonhelmet | 5 years ago
1 like
vonhelmet wrote:
Organon wrote:

I'm not sure you understand just how much it costs for brain surgery or care for someone in a vegetative state for the rest of their life.

I’d rather die than be left in a vegetative state. Fuck that, with bells on.

and the law here has recently changed on that with respect to allowing those in a vegetative state to be allowed to die by removing treatment which can include food and fluids. it's certainly something I'm making damn sure my relatives and doctors know my wishes.

Still find it sick that there are so many who would rather see their loved ones go through what is classed as abuse and/or be left to rot for years with zero quality of live than let them go.

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srchar replied to Organon | 5 years ago
0 likes

[Duplicate]

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RTB replied to Feckthehelmet | 5 years ago
1 like
Feckthehelmet wrote:

I have cycled since I was 6 years old. I am now 53. Never worn a helmet, never will. Geraint keep your alleged wit and wisdom to yourself. It should be the rider's choice. Oh and before those who are sitting out there waiting to be offended, I have worked for 35 years paying tax and N.I. So I have paid in for any injuries that might happen

Then you've just been lucky as it has f* all to do with how good you are on a bike, it is down to the circumstances around you and what other folks are doing.

Agree on one point, that is free choice, but why ever would you call yourself 'Feckthehelmet'?  Military grade arrogance.  Your post is full of I, I, I and more I (excepting the one in 'N.I.').  I can imagine everyone's eyes look to the ground when you turn up for a group ride, hoping there's an odd number so you can be off the back on your own.

Avatar
davel replied to RTB | 5 years ago
6 likes
RTB wrote:
Feckthehelmet wrote:

I have cycled since I was 6 years old. I am now 53. Never worn a helmet, never will. Geraint keep your alleged wit and wisdom to yourself. It should be the rider's choice. Oh and before those who are sitting out there waiting to be offended, I have worked for 35 years paying tax and N.I. So I have paid in for any injuries that might happen

Then you've just been lucky as it has f* all to do with how good you are on a bike, it is down to the circumstances around you and what other folks are doing.

Agree on one point, that is free choice, but why ever would you call yourself 'Feckthehelmet'?  Military grade arrogance.  Your post is full of I, I, I and more I (excepting the one in 'N.I.').  I can imagine everyone's eyes look to the ground when you turn up for a group ride, hoping there's an odd number so you can be off the back on your own.

Whereas you don't come across as arrogant at all. Does RTB stand for 'fatalistic blurt' in whatever is your first language?

You could slip on the toy car your kid left on your 13th stair. I do hope you wear a helmet just in case of such an eventuality.

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Danger Dicko | 5 years ago
3 likes

Yet again the helmet debate is being used to distract us from the fact this government criminally underfunds cycling infrastructrure.

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kev-s | 5 years ago
1 like

Modern cars kinda have helmets they are called air bags!

Most cars have driver and passenger ones and cars made in the last 10 or so years have window air bags front and rear

Personally on the helmet debate i would never ride without one

I used to not wear one when younger and riding a bmx doing all kinds of dangerous things but after seeing a few friends get concussion and splittng their head open i decided to wear one, will always wear one now

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... replied to kev-s | 5 years ago
4 likes
kev-s wrote:

Modern cars kinda have helmets they are called air bags!

Most cars have driver and passenger ones and cars made in the last 10 or so years have window air bags front and rear

Personally on the helmet debate i would never ride without one

I used to not wear one when younger and riding a bmx doing all kinds of dangerous things but after seeing a few friends get concussion and splittng their head open i decided to wear one, will always wear one now

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

 

Even with those airbags car occupants still suffer a very high rate of head-injuries, so that doesn't eliminate the case for car helmets.  (Weren't airbags only invented in the first place because American motorists refused to wear seat belts?)

 

  Really, though, the recomended safety equipment for a car ought to be to not use it and find a different mode of transport.  Especially when considering the damage the pollution does to everbody else (where it's not a 'risk' so much as a certainty that people will be harmed- yet another finding about the bad effects of urban air pollution in the paper yesterday).

As long as car use involves a certainty of negative effects on health, there seems little logic in fussing over the marginal and debatable probabilities of harm due to not wearing a helmet on the bike.   They need to address the bigger problem first.

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madcarew replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 5 years ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
kev-s wrote:

Modern cars kinda have helmets they are called air bags!

Most cars have driver and passenger ones and cars made in the last 10 or so years have window air bags front and rear

Personally on the helmet debate i would never ride without one

I used to not wear one when younger and riding a bmx doing all kinds of dangerous things but after seeing a few friends get concussion and splittng their head open i decided to wear one, will always wear one now

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

 

Even with those airbags car occupants still suffer a very high rate of head-injuries, so that doesn't eliminate the case for car helmets.  (Weren't airbags only invented in the first place because American motorists refused to wear seat belts?)

 

  Really, though, the recomended safety equipment for a car ought to be to not use it and find a different mode of transport.  Especially when considering the damage the pollution does to everbody else (where it's not a 'risk' so much as a certainty that people will be harmed- yet another finding about the bad effects of urban air pollution in the paper yesterday).

As long as car use involves a certainty of negative effects on health, there seems little logic in fussing over the marginal and debatable probabilities of harm due to not wearing a helmet on the bike.   They need to address the bigger problem first.

Only if the plan was to kill Americans. Not wearing a seat belt when an airbag goes off has a very high fatality rate, at much lower speeds than would otherwise be the case. 

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... replied to madcarew | 5 years ago
1 like
madcarew wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
kev-s wrote:

Modern cars kinda have helmets they are called air bags!

Most cars have driver and passenger ones and cars made in the last 10 or so years have window air bags front and rear

Personally on the helmet debate i would never ride without one

I used to not wear one when younger and riding a bmx doing all kinds of dangerous things but after seeing a few friends get concussion and splittng their head open i decided to wear one, will always wear one now

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

 

Even with those airbags car occupants still suffer a very high rate of head-injuries, so that doesn't eliminate the case for car helmets.  (Weren't airbags only invented in the first place because American motorists refused to wear seat belts?)

 

  Really, though, the recomended safety equipment for a car ought to be to not use it and find a different mode of transport.  Especially when considering the damage the pollution does to everbody else (where it's not a 'risk' so much as a certainty that people will be harmed- yet another finding about the bad effects of urban air pollution in the paper yesterday).

As long as car use involves a certainty of negative effects on health, there seems little logic in fussing over the marginal and debatable probabilities of harm due to not wearing a helmet on the bike.   They need to address the bigger problem first.

Only if the plan was to kill Americans. Not wearing a seat belt when an airbag goes off has a very high fatality rate, at much lower speeds than would otherwise be the case. 

 

That's as maybe (and since when have Americans worried overly about lethality of their toys? cf gun laws) but seatbelt wearing rates were very low in the US when airbags were first introduced.  Airbags came in in the 1970s, and, by this wiki data, seatbelt use rates had only reached 14% by 1983.  Airbags were openly marketed as substitutes for seat belts because drivers didn't like the latter.

What I remember reading somewhere decades ago was that was why airbags came in later in the UK, becuase UK drivers were less resistent to wearing seatbelts so there was less urgency about finding an alternative form of protection.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seat_belt_use_rates_in_the_United_States

 

(Edit) e.g.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbag#Origins

 

Quote:

GM chose to market its airbags as a substitute for shoulder belts.

Avatar
CygnusX1 replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 5 years ago
7 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

Even with those airbags car occupants still suffer a very high rate of head-injuries, so that doesn't eliminate the case for car helmets.  (Weren't airbags only invented in the first place because American motorists refused to wear seat belts?)

Mandatory helmet for all car occupants, I say -complete with HANS harness (because it looks more Pro), and don't forget the fire retardant race overalls - don't want to be seen as a tool for only having part of the 'uniform'.

Avatar
srchar replied to kev-s | 5 years ago
8 likes
kev-s wrote:

Modern cars kinda have helmets they are called air bags!

And yet car crashes are still the leading cause of fatal head injury in young drivers.

kev-s wrote:

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

Why limit "leading by example" to cycle helmet wearing?  Should I also use a potty, go to bed at 7pm and use a sippy cup, in order to lead my kids by example?  No, of course not.  Kids have different needs and are exposed to different risks than adults.  Kids can make their own mind up on helmets when they're older, just like their parents do.

Avatar
Simon E replied to kev-s | 5 years ago
5 likes
kev-s wrote:

I do think it should be left up to the induvidual but my only bug bear is seeing kids wearing helmets but their parents arent, If you want your kid to wear one then lead by example!

Contradictory statements there. It's up to the individual... but you want to disparage people who don't do exactly the same as you.

It has been shown that cycle helmets can provide some protection in the kinds of scenarios that young children encounter - low speed falls. Having said that, I'm against compulsion for kids, it's simply NOT the answer. Or perhaps you'd like to see back protectors and helmets made compulsory for kids who climb trees or play tag-rugby.

My two are now teenagers (16 and 14) and we've talked to them many times about helmets and, far, far more importantly, about assessing hazards and risk while out on their bikes. They have completed level 3 Bikeability, they've ridden with me many times and listened to countless in-car discussions about road safety. I would be willing to bet that they're better informed about risk than virtually all of their classmates and quite possibly many cyclists. They're not immune from danger or poor decision-making but they are as well informed as I could hope so I now let them choose whether to wear a helmet.

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OldRidgeback | 5 years ago
0 likes

I wish Wiggo would talk about his tastes in music rather more regularly. I'm curious if Thomas has equally good taste.

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nortonpdj replied to OldRidgeback | 5 years ago
1 like
OldRidgeback wrote:

I wish Wiggo would talk about his tastes in music rather more regularly. I'm curious if Thomas has equally good taste.

I guess GT has the better voice.

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ktache | 5 years ago
9 likes

Compulsory seatbelts never discouraged anyone from driving.

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kil0ran replied to ktache | 5 years ago
1 like
ktache wrote:

Compulsory seatbelts never discouraged anyone from driving.

So as part of the standards for bike manufacture, mandate that each new bike is sold with a helmet then.

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RobD replied to kil0ran | 5 years ago
3 likes

Or perhaps lower speed limits for motorised vehicles, enforce current speed limits and laws regarding mobile phone use, I think you'd find there were a lot fewer cyclists turning up at A&E with head injuries than if you made everyone wear a helmet.

If the government get the idea into their heads that encouraging helmet wearing would be a good thing, maybe they should remove VAT from them, the savings from their supposed effectiveness would outweigh the lost revenues.

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Simon E replied to ktache | 5 years ago
10 likes

"it's caused just as much uproar by saying that as by saying 'I don't think you should have to wear a helmet' which would probably have been equal front page news."

That's not true. Very few (if any) people would take issue with a view that agreed with the law as it stands.

The fact is that both Wiggins and Thomas, on a whim, with no research or evidence to back them up, tell the mainstream media that compelling anyone on a bicycle to wear a cycle helmet is a good idea. The evidence proves them wrong (but the media won't be interested in that).

"It's one of those things if you don't have a strong opinion on it either way,"

If that's the case then don't spout off about it.

ktache wrote:

Compulsory seatbelts never discouraged anyone from driving.

Cycle helmets ≠ seatbelts. Try mandating helmets for all car occupants and see how far you get.

Avatar
vonhelmet | 5 years ago
13 likes

The research on seatbelts is considerably more conclusive than that for helmets, you know.

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