I hope Gerry Byrne (Lynn News, Tuesday, September 6) never visits the Netherlands if he worries about cyclists not wearing helmets.
I was there earlier this year and the only people wearing plastic hats were a gaggle of English tourists. The odd thing is that the Netherlands had fewer cyclists suffering head injuries per km cycled than the UK – despite nearly a third of journeys being made by bike.
He may prefer Australia where a law made helmet-wearing compulsory a decade or so ago. This did indeed result in a fall in cyclists suffering serious head injuries. The problem is that the fall was less than the drop in cyclist numbers as a result of the restrictions!
Cycle helmets are designed to protect the head in a direct impact of up to about 15mph. They may well help in a fall from the bike at low speed but they’re unlikely to be much good in a collision with a motor vehicle and can even exacerbate injuries in some circumstances. Although Richard Branson may believe that a helmet saved him from a more serious head injury that’s debatable, as most of his injuries were to his face.
According to the police, around two-thirds of collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles are the fault of the driver. If we’re serious about reducing the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured, helmets are a distraction. What is really needed is a wholesale revision of how we manage our roads, particularly in towns.
The Netherlands and many other countries have such low figures of cycling casualties because transport infrastructure is designed to prioritise cycling, with an amazing network of high-quality cycleways which give cyclists priority over motor traffic. In areas where cyclists share the roads with cars speeds are kept low – never more that 30kph (18.5mph). If Mr Byrne is really concerned about cyclist safety he will be wholeheartedly supporting our call for a town-wide 20mph limit and enforcement of laws protecting vulnerable road users, along with enhanced cycle training for children and adults.
I do wear a helmet where appropriate and encourage my children to do so.
Rob Archer, 20’s Plenty for Lynn, Friars Street, Lynn