Wrong message on cycle safety

From: Dr Stuart Reid

Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Northern General Hospital Accident and Emergency Department

Whilst I applaud the content of your ‘Pedal Power’ front page article last week, I find myself frustrated that the Pedal Ready trainer and her trainee are pictured without wearing cycle helmets.

Myself and many of my colleagues are daily cycle commuters and are constantly aware to the potential dangers of cycling, both on our journey to and from work, as well as often seeing several cyclists a day with injuries after accidents.

The evidence for the use of cycle helmets is compelling, as shown in a high quality literature review from 1999 showing a 63-88% decrease in risk of head, brain and severe brain injury in those wearing helmets.

Modern helmets are cheap, comfortable, lightweight and look good. I hope that part of the Pedal Ready training course includes this most basic piece of road safety advice and I would strongly suggest that all readers undertaking any form of cycling should wear a helmet at all times.

From: Dr Neil Taylor

Sheffield S17

Your front page photograph of last week defies belief. What were you and the smiling professional instructor thinking of - the helmetless trainee’s safety and that of other road users? Let’s not quibble about the apparent lack of lights on what appears to be a sunny summer’s day. Is the road to hell being pedalled with good intentions?

Indeed, perhaps your offering should be submitted for a national poster campaign for road safety - How Not To Do It.

From: Alan York

Dore, S17

We are all in favour of more people using their bikes and I have joined them in my late 70s, but my family and particularly the grandchildren insisted I should wear a helmet instead of my comfortable cap for safety reasons.

Yet you chose to put on your front page a cycle trainer and her pupil riding in the street WITHOUT any helmets. What sort of example is this to the young riders, let alone the older ones?

It is no excuse to report that they were riding in a quiet road. We tell the grandchildren that death on four wheels is always just around the corner.

From: Peter Mara

Crookesmoor Road, S10

As a regular cyclist - mtb,road and commuting as well as being a motorcyclist - I was quite amazed with the photograph accompanying your lead article in last week’s Telegraph.

I think the rise in cycling is great and whilst realising that helmets are not compulsory for cyclists I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a Pedal Ready trainer with a trainee, neither wearing helmets.

Just not good enough, no matter where you are riding, and please, no lame excuses from Pedal Ready.

Having had two serious accidents rendering me with concussion I can avow for the need to wear helmets.

Pedal Ready you missed an opportunity for positive responses.

lA spokesman for Pedal Read Development said: “The promotion of cycling helmets makes many people think cycling without one is dangerous or irresponsible, but the evidence does not support this.

“We suggest people consider the pros and cons of helmet wearing and make up their own minds: in certain circumstances, a properly fitted helmet may protect a cyclist from a serious head injury if they fall from their bike up to about 12 mph.

However, a helmet increases the surface area liable to impact and tends to distort an assumption of protection for both passing drivers and cyclists.

Badly fitting helmets increase the risk of rotational injury or strangulation.

“Helmets are probably a good idea for children (for whom head injuries while cycling are mostly caused by falls).

But a problem with helmets is that some see them as the only real issue to think about, and don’t check brakes, fix poorly adjusted bikes or take up training that could avoid potential difficulties in the first place.

Cycling is not dangerous: there are more head injuries amongst pedestrians and car passengers, so some say it would be more effective to promote helmet wearing to these groups instead!

For more information see: www.cyclehelmets.org