Bradley Wiggins, 31-year-old British hero of the Tour de France and the Olympics, has sparked a debate among cycling enthusiasts on the topic of compulsory safety-helmets for the UK.
The medallist’s remarks came after a tragedy occurred on Wednesday outside the Olympic park. According to the Guardian, a 28-year-old man from Essex, Daniel Harris, was killed after an accident involving his bicycle and a bus carrying journalists.
Harris is the tenth person to be killed in a biking accident in London this year.
An inquest into the death has been opened and adjourned, and a 65-year-old man has been bailed pending further inquiries. The Metropolitan police have appealed for witnesses.
Asked about cycling safety in relation to the tragedy, the Guardian reports Wiggins said he believed cyclists would be better protected if it was illegal to ride a bike without a helmet.
Although Wiggins later tweeted that he was not campaigning for the change, several organisations and interested individuals offered comment on the idea.
For example, Martin Gibbs, the director of public policy for British Cycling, says more could be done to make the roads network safer overall for cyclists, including further cycle-lanes and better provision at road junctions.
Darren Johnson, a Green party member of the London Assembly, spoke about the fact that safety-helmets alone cannot save cyclists from massive injuries caused by heavy vehicles.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said there were no plans to provide helmets for the capital’s fleet of ‘Boris bikes’. He added: “The evidence is mixed. I have to say that in countries where they have made them compulsory, it hasn’t always necessarily been good for cycling.”
However, the Highway Code recommends the use of safety-helmets for cyclists in Rule 45, and the Royal Mail has required its several thousand cycling employees to wear helmets since 2003.
The majority of motorcyclists must wear safety-helmets since the Motorcycle Crash Helmet Act became law in 1973. It appears to be high time similar safety concerns were investigated to help protect the increasing numbers of cyclists on Britain’s busy roads.