Cycle Helmets: IAM survey

Following on from a previous post the following email asks for contributions to a survey being run by the Institute for Advanced Motorists:

This poll (link here) by the Institute of Advanced Motorists is open until 17th April. Unfortunately it makes no distinction between utility, leisure, sport and serous off road cycling – but I suggest it’s reasonable to complete it from a utility /  modest leisure perspective.

The IAM publishes an advanced cycling book (along the lines of John Franklin’s cyclecraft) and so are more enlightened about real cycling issues than many. Nevertheless  it’s important to ensure they get a balanced view.

Cyclenation is already in touch with IAM’s cycling dept. & we’ll consider contacting them at the end of their survey to encourage them to base their policy on facts, not necessarily on vox pop.

On reading the survey, I would argue it takes a very individualistic perspective on safety and does not consider the real changes that would make a safer environment for cyclists. For example it gives a series of possible choices for the three most important cycle safety measures:

  • taking a safe start position at lights
  • helmet
  • cycle lanes
  • avoiding undertaking at junctions
  • training
  • visible road positioning
  • bright clothing and lights

I felt that it might be more appropriate to consider the environment cyclists face every day. I ticked the ‘please specify’ box and responded:

  • Greater incorporation of cyclist awareness in motorist training and the driving test
  • Greater enforcement of motoring rules
  • Lower road speed limits

Whilst of course wearing a helmet is beneficial in accidents, and they do save lives, they are not a panacea. It is likely that compulsory helmet wearing would criminalise many individuals on bikes or reduce the likelihood of taking a bike. Overall the creation of a more cyclist-safe environment is far more important for increasing cyclist-safety on our roads – as can be seen by the general lack of helmets but increased safety in more cyclist-friendly places such as the Netherlands or Scandinavia.


About lancasterdynamo

Dynamo is a cycling group, established in 1994, to work with official bodies, other cycling organisations and interested individuals to promote cycling as a safe, enjoyable and healthy means of transport.
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