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Gordon Ramsay says helmets are “crucial” for cyclists no matter “how short the journey is”, after accident leaves him with a terrible bruise

“Please, please please please, wear a helmet because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here now,” said the celebrity chef, adding that he was lucky to be alive after his crash

British celebrity chef and TV presenter Gordon Ramsay has called for all cyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of how short the journey is or how expensive it might be, after being involved in a crash that left him with trauma and a terrible bruise.

The 57-year-old culinary sensation, well-known for his brash demeanour and ample usage of the F-word (and erm, his beef wellington recipe too) is a keen cyclist and triathlete, having completed the Ironman World Championship course in Hawaii through an invitational slot in a time of 14 hours, 4 minutes back in 2013.

But it seems that one of his recent rides in Connecticut has ended in a crash, with Gordon sharing information about the aftermath through his social media in a video where he thanks medical professionals for looking after him and lifts his chef’s jacket to reveal a terrible, purple patch of bruise on the left side of his abdomen. He also shared images of his torn jersey and damaged helmet.

> Gordon Ramsay "risking further wrath from neighbours" by going on (perfectly legal) 22 mile bike ride, claim the Daily Mail

“You know how much I love cycling and triathlons and Ironman. This week, unfortunately, I had a really bad accident and it really shook me,” he says in the video. “Honestly, I’m lucky to be here. Those incredible trauma surgeons, doctors and nurses in the hospital who looked after me this week, they were amazing.

“But honestly, you’ve got to wear a helmet. I don’t care how short the journey is, I don’t care the fact that these helmets cost money, but they’re crucial. Even with the kids, [on] a short journey, they’ve got to wear a helmet.

“Now I’m lucky to be standing here. I’m in pain, it’s been a brutal week. I’m sort of getting through but I cannot tell you the importance of wearing a helmet. This weekend is massive, for new fathers, for old fathers, for middle-aged fathers, I want to wish you all a very happy father’s day.

“But please, please please please, wear a helmet because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here now.”

While details about the ride and the subsequent crash are unclear, Gordon wrote on Instagram that it happened when he was riding his Specialized Roubaix in Connecticut, USA.

He wrote: “I’m doing ok and did not break any bones or suffer any major injuries but I am a bit bruised up looking like a purple potato. I’m thankful for all the doctors, nurses and staff at Lawerence + Memorial Hospital in New London who looked after me and checked me out, but most thankful for my helmet that saved my life.”

While wearing a helmet is a mandatory requirement in some parts of the world such as Australia, Argentina and Japan, cyclists in the UK, or even in the USA where Gordon was riding his bike, don’t have to wear one.

The Highway Code says: “You should wear a cycle helmet that conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened. Evidence suggests that a correctly fitted helmet will reduce your risk of sustaining a head injury in certain circumstances.”

However, there is a longstanding debate amongst cyclists whether wearing a helmet for commuting should be mandatory or not, with many of the belief that in an ideal world, all vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, should be free to travel without needing additional equipment.

> Why is Dan Walker’s claim that a bike helmet saved his life so controversial?

While helmets add a layer of protection for cyclists and reduces odds of a head injury, in 2006, Dr Ian Walker of the University of Bath conducted an experiment where he discovered that cyclists are afforded more space by passing drivers if they are (or at least appear to be) female or if they’re not wearing a helmet.

Another study from 2019, presented at the National Road Safety Conference, also suggested “a higher accident/injury rate may result from helmet usage” and argued that “there is strong evidence that helmeted cyclists suffer a higher rate of upper body limb injuries than non-wearers, suggesting a higher rate of falls than non-wearers.”

And then there’s the research from Australia that made headlines this time around last year, revealing that an alarming number of people do not see cyclists as human, with those riding bicycles while wearing helmets or safety vests seen as less human compared to those without.

The researchers concluded that dehumanisation related more to visible safety gear than obstruction of hair or eyes and the perceptions of dehumanisation also varied based on respondent gender.

Academic behind ‘cyclists seen as less human’ study: “If you have a safe and normal cycling culture, how could you see people as anything but human?”

While most of the replies on his social media posts are positive and thankful that he came out of the crash without any serious injuries, it didn’t take much time for cyclists and campaigners to familiarise Gordon Ramsay with the eternal helmet debate.

Gordon Ramsay isn’t the first public figure to dip his feet into these murky territories. Last year, Channel 5 presenter Dan Walker was hit by a car driver while cycling in Sheffield, leaving him unconscious for 25 minutes. Sharing pictures of his bloodied face from the hospital, he wrote: “The helmet I was wearing saved my life today so - if you’re on a bike - get one on your head.”

> "I had cyclists telling me I was a disgrace for saying my helmet saved my life": Dan Walker recalls helmet backlash after being knocked off bike by driver

The comment proved to be highly controversial, launching one of the great episodes in the well-trodden helmet safety debate path as many cyclists expressed their disapproval and challenged the evidence behind the slogan “Don’t be a helmet, wear a helmet”, that was shared by the former BBC Breakfast host.

In February this year, Walker mused on the aftermath, saying: “Within 24 hours I'd had drivers tell me that if it had been them, they'd have finished the job,” Walker recalled. “I had cyclists telling me I was a disgrace for saying that my helmet saved my life. ‘You’re the reason people wear helmets’. There’s a lobby, apparently, that says if you wear a helmet drivers think you're safer than you are, therefore they hit you.”

“So I got people angry on all sides and I thought, ‘I don’t want to enter this. I’m very happy that I'm still around’. There's a part of me that genuinely thought that was it.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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117 comments

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xbr976 | 4 weeks ago
1 like

I live in Seattle but currently at my MIL's home in Japan's Chiba prefecture and I can state that no bike commuters I've seen (or old people just getting around) wear helmets. 
 

I can understand it bc it's very flat. But more alarmingly while a few people use a front light at night, no one uses a rear light at night. Wife says reflectors are what people rely on--which seems stupid to me. 

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hawkinspeter replied to xbr976 | 4 weeks ago
2 likes
xbr976 wrote:

I live in Seattle but currently at my MIL's home in Japan's Chiba prefecture and I can state that no bike commuters I've seen (or old people just getting around) wear helmets. 
 

I can understand it bc it's very flat. But more alarmingly while a few people use a front light at night, no one uses a rear light at night. Wife says reflectors are what people rely on--which seems stupid to me. 

Using just a front light seems like the wrong choice to me. I'd rather use just a rear light as usually the street lighting where I am is fine for me to see where I'm going without a front light, but I want vehicles behind me to see me.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
4 likes

If you've only got one light, why not both?

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wycombewheeler replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
xbr976 wrote:

I live in Seattle but currently at my MIL's home in Japan's Chiba prefecture and I can state that no bike commuters I've seen (or old people just getting around) wear helmets. 
 

I can understand it bc it's very flat. But more alarmingly while a few people use a front light at night, no one uses a rear light at night. Wife says reflectors are what people rely on--which seems stupid to me. 

Using just a front light seems like the wrong choice to me. I'd rather use just a rear light as usually the street lighting where I am is fine for me to see where I'm going without a front light, but I want vehicles behind me to see me.

And when someone pulls out in front of you because their lights don't illuminate you? Unless you are wearing black clothes with no reflective panels drivers behind should see you. Drivers manage to see pedestrians at night after all.

You choose the rear because you think you have more control over what goes on in front of you. But every driver coming from behind will have their own lights pointed at you.

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wycombewheeler replied to xbr976 | 4 weeks ago
2 likes
xbr976 wrote:

I live in Seattle but currently at my MIL's home in Japan's Chiba prefecture and I can state that no bike commuters I've seen (or old people just getting around) wear helmets. 
 

I can understand it bc it's very flat. But more alarmingly while a few people use a front light at night, no one uses a rear light at night. Wife says reflectors are what people rely on--which seems stupid to me. 

Reflectors don't run out of power.

Riding without lights you're more likely to have a collision when someone pulls out in front of you because they don't see you.

Cars coming from behind should see you with their own lights anyway. Obviously lights are best, but I can understand the logic.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 4 weeks ago
4 likes

Hmm..... Gordon Ramsay now giving road safety advice. Whatever next. Always comes across as a gobshite to me. Some things never change....

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Vo2Maxi | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Whilst I'm not quite so cynical to imagine Ramsay employed the services of a make-up artist to paint on that huge bruise on his torso, nevertheless I'm puzzled as to why it has an exactly straight edge?

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mdavidford replied to Vo2Maxi | 4 weeks ago
1 like
Vo2Maxi wrote:

Whilst I'm not quite so cynical to imagine Ramsay employed the services of a make-up artist to paint on that huge bruise on his torso, nevertheless I'm puzzled as to why it has an exactly straight edge?

Why would he need a make-up artist?

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ktache | 1 month ago
8 likes

Wait until he finds out how dangerous knives can be...

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 1 month ago
2 likes

But honestly, you’ve got to wear chainmail gloves, sleeves, coif and shorts.  I don’t care how few carrots you're dicing.

TBF I suspect he's all over keeping knives very sharp, not running about the kitchin with them or leaving them in sinks, always drying them and putting them away after use etc.

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mdavidford replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
2 likes
chrisonabike wrote:

But honestly, you’ve got to wear chainmail gloves, sleeves, coif and shorts.

Wait - have we wandered off onto Cavendish again?

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john_smith | 1 month ago
0 likes

What on earth is a "CyclingMikey"?

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quiff replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
4 likes

Wikipedia: Michael van Erp, better known as CyclingMikey, is a London-based YouTuber who films drivers using their mobile phones as well as committing other traffic offences, footage of which he reports to the police, and later uploads to his YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/@CyclingMikey

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
2 likes

A "CyclingMikey" is newspeak for any wannabe celeb (or "Youtuber", as they were know in my generation, about 10 minutes ago) who tries to achieve fame by e.g. creating pastiches of more established artists.  For example, by trying to recreate a scene from a fantasy film where a monster is stopped by the determination of a wizard (played by an in-form Ian McKellen), but this time with the original actor's agent taking the role of the Balrog.

Members of the public generally greet these interactions with disapproval as an intrusion of privacy, particularly when they realise they've been caught breaking the law.

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
1 like

I see. I believe they call it an "influencer" these days.

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Vo2Maxi replied to john_smith | 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Someone who purposely antagonises motorists from his bike, and makes them more likely to want to kill an innocent, law abiding cyclist.

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GMBasix | 1 month ago
9 likes
Potty-mouthed TV cook wrote:

“...but most thankful for my helmet that saved my life.”

The only way to test that statement is to recreate the circumstances of the incident that led to his impacts, but this time without him wearing a helmet. There are some ethical issues around controlled experiments like that, but it's a risk I'm willing for him to take.

It does sound like he was riding in a more competitive manner than 'riding to the shops' normally is. As with formal competitive contexts, the helmet debate take on a different nuance.

But whether wearing one or not would have made a difference, for most people involved in an incident in which the question becomes more than hypothetical, the crucial considerations should have been how do we stop the arttitudes expressed in this article [https://road.cc/content/news/drivers-frustrated-and-angry-passing-cyclis... leading to the incidents in the first place. And how do we stop the resulting legal arguments even referencing the rider's choice to limit a specific set of curcumstances causing more serious injury or death.

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wycombewheeler replied to GMBasix | 1 month ago
11 likes
GMBasix wrote:

The only way to test that statement is to recreate the circumstances of the incident that led to his impacts, but this time without him wearing a helmet.

number of cyclists dying per year before helmets - about 100.

number of cyclists "saved by helmets" per year since about 5,000

Interesting that we can see no point where cyclists injuries becoem less severe but pedestrians do not, even though cycle helmets became widespread during this period. If the injury reduciton to cyclists is from helmets, why do pedestrian injuries also reduce. If they are due to other safety facotrs, what are helmets contributing? 

The only convincing argument is about saving my family being told I am partially at fault by some judge and reducing compensation accordingly.

 

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marmotte27 replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
4 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

The only convincing argument is about saving my family being told I am partially at fault by some judge and reducing compensation accordingly.

 

You forgot the quotation marks around convincing.

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wycombewheeler replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
3 likes
marmotte27 wrote:
wycombewheeler wrote:

 

The only convincing argument is about saving my family being told I am partially at fault by some judge and reducing compensation accordingly.

 

You forgot the quotation marks around convincing.

I have no trouble at all believing a judge might conclude I was partially to blame by not wearing a helmet, and so colcude contributory negligence in any compensation case. As we hear all the time about helmets saving lives, even though I cannot find any corresponding drop in fatalaties when helmets became commonplace.

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hawkinspeter replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
4 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

I have no trouble at all believing a judge might conclude I was partially to blame by not wearing a helmet, and so colcude contributory negligence in any compensation case. As we hear all the time about helmets saving lives, even though I cannot find any corresponding drop in fatalaties when helmets became commonplace.

As I recall, there was just one case of contributory negligence for not wearing a helmet which was an off-road team building event and the rider refused a helmet that was provided to him and then unfortunately sustained injuries from a crash.

Otherwise, it would be for the defendant's legal team to demonstrate that the helmet would have made a substantial difference to the injuries - very rare that that could be shown due to the limited specifications of cycle helmets (i.e. 12mph single vehicle collision)

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qwerty360 replied to hawkinspeter | 4 weeks ago
2 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

Otherwise, it would be for the defendant's legal team to demonstrate that the helmet would have made a substantial difference to the injuries - very rare that that could be shown due to the limited specifications of cycle helmets (i.e. 12mph single vehicle collision)

Yep.

2 requirements in court -

1. Wearing a helmet is a reasonable precaution that the average person would take

2. That the helmet would have made a difference.

 

I have seen an argument online from a lawyer that 1 has plausibly also changed because of hire bikes - very few people carry helmets in case they get on a boris bike/lime/etc, therefore helmets aren't a standard, reasonable precaution to the average person and it isn't reasonable to treat hire bikes differently to personally owned bikes for this. The public interest is best served by letting riders use them without liability risk from not wearing a helmet.

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john_smith replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
0 likes

Your hear about helmets saving lives all the time? How many instances would that be say per year?

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OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
7 likes

He was doing a sportive was he not? His front wheel clipped the rear of another rider. In that environment, he'd be riding quickly in close proximity to other riders doing the same, not quite a race but certainly not like the daily commute. 

I wear a helmet when I'm racing or training on my BMX because I'd be a fool not to, and it's a BC requirement anyway. But for riding to the shops or the station or whatever, there's no need. Statistically, I'd be improving my health and safety more if I wore a helmet when I'm in my car than when I'm commuting on my bicycle.

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Simon E replied to OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
4 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

His front wheel clipped the rear of another rider. In that environment, he'd be riding quickly in close proximity to other riders doing the same, not quite a race but certainly not like the daily commute.

My impression of many group rides, reliabilities etc is that the risk of crashing is significantly higher than when riding solo, particularly if some egos start to take over. Although I usually ride without a lid on my own if riding in a group, particularly a chain-gang bunch, I'd definitely wear one.

However, I will ignore this supposed PSA from an overpaid arsehole chef with an attitude problem. I'm sure he would do the same if I told him repeatedly how to properly cook an omlette.

What's CRUCIAL for cyclists riding in groups or mixing with vehicles is risk assessment - understanding and observing your environment - which cannot be replaced by wearing a polystyrene hat (though I have zero issues with people who wish to do so).

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mattw replied to OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
1 like
OldRidgeback wrote:

He was doing a sportive was he not? His front wheel clipped the rear of another rider. In that environment, he'd be riding quickly in close proximity to other riders doing the same, not quite a race but certainly not like the daily commute. 

I wear a helmet when I'm racing or training on my BMX because I'd be a fool not to, and it's a BC requirement anyway. But for riding to the shops or the station or whatever, there's no need. Statistically, I'd be improving my health and safety more if I wore a helmet when I'm in my car than when I'm commuting on my bicycle.

Is there a report of those circumstances?

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OldRidgeback replied to mattw | 1 month ago
1 like
mattw wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

He was doing a sportive was he not? His front wheel clipped the rear of another rider. In that environment, he'd be riding quickly in close proximity to other riders doing the same, not quite a race but certainly not like the daily commute. 

I wear a helmet when I'm racing or training on my BMX because I'd be a fool not to, and it's a BC requirement anyway. But for riding to the shops or the station or whatever, there's no need. Statistically, I'd be improving my health and safety more if I wore a helmet when I'm in my car than when I'm commuting on my bicycle.

Is there a report of those circumstances?

There was somewhere else as that's what I've based my comment on. If I find the link, I'll post it.

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Bigfoz | 1 month ago
8 likes

I've had 2 incidents where a helemt has saved me from significant injury or potential fatality. I have an agreement with my wife: I will wear a helmet when I ride, and if anyone takes me out she will deploy every means she has to ensure that person is held accountable. Seems fair. I also want to know that any resulting legal settlement will not be reduced because some *sshole judge decides I wasn;t kitted out safely enough. But I still would not want to see helmets mandated - I rode a bike for 30+ years from the age of 5 without a helmet and without issue all over the world. It's only since returning to the UK and experiencing "the best drivers in the world" that I;ve had recourse to consider a helmet...

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Rome73 | 1 month ago
2 likes

I agree - wear a helmet. 

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Daclu Trelub | 1 month ago
1 like

<wince>

Ooh, I wouldn't like a tear in the helmet.

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