Cycle helmets cause other road users to give cyclists less space
Posted: June 18, 2014
Posted in: Bicycle Accidents Head & Brain Injuries Road Traffic Accidents
A neurosurgeon recently referred to cycle helmets as “flimsy” and a “waste of time”, sparking the debate about the benefits of cycle helmets in the media all over again. Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh formed this argument based on the findings of the University of Bath, which suggested that other road users do not give cyclists with helmets as much space on the roads as those without, as they presume that they are experienced and more predictable.
Professor of traffic psychology, Dr Ian Walker, carried out this research and found that motorists drive 8cm closer when overtaking cyclists with helmets. In one variation on the experiment, it was also found that having long blonde hair meant that drivers would give you a wider berth on the roads.
Not compulsory to wear a helmet
Cycle helmets are not a compulsory safety feature in the UK, where lights and reflectors are a legal obligation for cyclists after dark. Dr Walker’s research seems to suggest that wearing a helmet in fact increases your chances of being involved in an accident as you have less room to manoeuver.
Research gathered by the University of British Columbia, however, found that the probability of severe brain damage in impact to the head at 12mph fell from 99.9% chance of injury when cycling without a helmet, to 9.3% with a helmet.
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