With the arguably the biggest and most popular event in the year's cycling calendar, The Tour De France, set to pedal off this July, it's a good time to highlight the plight of the average cyclist.
Riding a bike can be fantastic for cardiovascular health and health in general, but unfortunately it can also be dangerous if due care is not taken. In the UK, it is now the law that cyclists must ride on the roads rather than on the pavements.
As a possible consequence of this, the risk of a serious brain injury or even death as a result of an accident has increased and is very real possibility indeed, especially if a helmet is not worn. In 2014, a report by The Department of Transport showed that there were over 21,000 cycling accidents in the UK that year, many resulting in traumatic brain injuries. This figure represents a 29% increase in numbers compared to data between 2000 and 2009. Traumatic Brain Injuries are caused by a blow to the head that disrupts the brain’s function and can result in temporary or even permanent disabilities and can have terrible personal, social and economic consequences. These figures are startling when compared to other at risk road users, including motorcyclists, which represent up to a 17% decrease.
The best way to try to avoid such injuries is quite simply, wearing a helmet. The Cochrane Report, having conducted studies in the UK, America and Australia, specified that the use of helmets has been shown to reduce the risk of a brain injury by as much as 88 percent.
Thankfully, cyclists in general seem to be listening to the warnings and as a result, the wearing of helmets is on the rise. So much so that more often than not when one sees a cyclist, they are wearing a helmet, some of which even have little cameras on them that record the roads as they ride along. However, there is still a long way to go as both children and adults can still be seen on their bikes without them. Hopefully in time, through education and people sharing their experiences, wearing helmets will become the socially accepted norm.
With warmer weather upon us and people more likely to go out for a ride, be it to commute or for leisure, it is important to emphasise that yes, people should go out and travel or enjoy themselves, just remember to take precautions, be careful, and be aware of the environment around you. Cycle safe and may fewer accidents become a Wheelality.