Britons want helmet law

August 09, 2012, 4:24 PM GMT+0

79% Britons in favour of compulsory cycling helmet law, 15% oppose, amid on-going debate

There is strong consensus among the British public that new laws should be introduced to make wearing helmets compulsory for cyclists. Our poll shows the majority supports the concept of mandatory helmet laws.

While the public is generally in agreement across different geographical regions, a gender gap emerges on this issue, with women significantly more in favour than men.

  • 79% Britons say they would support a new law that would make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets when riding (45% strongly support, 34% tend to support)
  • 15% oppose making helmets compulsory for cyclists (11% tend to oppose, 4% strongly oppose)
  • The results also highlight a gender gap, with over four in five women supporting compulsory helmets compared to fewer than three quarters of men (83% vs. 74% respectively)
  • Meanwhile twice as many men oppose a helmet law with 20% compared to just 10% of women

The results come amid much debate about whether cyclists should take more responsibility for their own safety, after reports that the death toll involving people on bikes is on the increase.

Safety factor or 'dangerous diversion'?

Following recent accidents, Tour De France winner and recent Olympic cycling gold medallist Bradley Wiggins endorsed the use of helmets as an important safety factor for cyclists when riding, sparking further debate over whether making helmets enforceable by law is the sensible route to take.

"I think when there's laws passed for cyclists, then you're protected and you can say, well, I've done everything to be safe," said Wiggins. "Because ultimately, if you get knocked off and you ain't got a helmet on, then how can you kind of argue?"

The medal-winner was quick to clarify that he wasn't calling for a law, simply recommending helmets for the protection they offer. "Just to confirm, I haven't called for helmets to be made the law as reports suggest," he tweeted, simply saying that "I suggested it may be the way to go to give cyclists more protection legally."

Cycling campaigns all over Britain tend to strongly protest against mandatory helmets, however, claiming it will do more to discourage cycling. They also fear that a focus on helmets is not a sensible way to approach accidents on the roads.

Gerhard Weiss of the London Cycling Campaign said: "Helmets have nothing to do with collisions… it's a side-issue and a serious diversion."

See the survey details and full results here