Helmets give cyclists a false sense of security and making helmets compulsory will lead to fewer people using their bikes, according to the Dutch cyclists’ union in the latest edition of its magazine.
Cycling helmets can protect heads against severe brain injury if the bike is stationary, but at speeds of over 20 kph – easily reached when falling from a slow-moving bike – the helmet offers little protection, Theo Zeegers says in the article.
‘It is notable that the number of mountain bikers and racing cyclists who end up in hospital with or without a helmet is almost the same,’ Zeegers said. ‘Helmets offer a false sense of security. Helmets offer no protection if you crash into a car and often don’t help when no other vehicle is involved because they are not properly fitted.’
Rather than introducing the compulsory wearing of helmets, Dutch local councils should improve cycling lessons at schools and improve the provision of cycling lanes, the cyclists’ union says.
Zeegers points to research by the Dutch traffic safety council which shows 60% of people would cycle less if helmets are made compulsory. And, he says, the public health institute RIVM calculates the cost to society of that would be much greater than the benefits brought by cycle helmets.