The topic of helmet compulsion for cyclists is never too far away from the news and this week the issue reared its head again with the publication of a survey on the issue among medics.
The highly respected British Medical Journal (BMJ) last week conducted an online poll on the thorny issue of whether the wearing of helmets by cyclists should be made mandatory. Surprisingly it revealed a lack of support for the move among medics.
The poll gathered 1,439 respondents by the time the survey ended with 68% against a law making it mandatory for helmets to be worn by cyclists.
Cycling is not “dangerous”
Steven Charkin, one of the respondents in the survey, commented that cycling was not a dangerous activity and the health benefits of regular cycling may be lost if wearing a helmet whilst cycling was made mandatory.
He and others, who also made comments on the poll in the supporting BMJ blog on the results of the survey, argued that evidence that showed cycling helmets worked to reduce injury was not conclusive.
“What has, however, been shown is that laws that make wearing helmets compulsory decrease cycling activity. Cycling is a healthy activity and cyclists live longer on average than non-cyclists,” stated Mr Charkin.
The BMJ is the official publication of the British Medical Association (BMA) though it is editorially independent of it. The survey’s findings are however at odds with the BMA’s policy position on helmet compulsion. The BMA supports the mandatory wearing of helmets for cyclists. The policy position is usually voted on by doctors at the BMA’s annual conference.