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ANGLESEY - A Tale of Two Cycling Leaflets

The greatest danger to cyclists is the inconsiderate motorist. As a cycling friend of mine always says, 'I make a mistake - I die. You, the motorist, make a mistake - I die'. An exaggeration certainly, but we take his point. Some contend that a cycle helmet helps in a collision between a cyclist and a motor vehicle. In truth a helmet is only of light construction. Whilst capable of absorbing some impact, many argue its value is marginal at best, and research suggests the subject is far more complex than at first appears. And in some circumstances it can actually leave the cyclist more vulnerable to assertive driving.

Who would doubt that many who support cycle helmets do so without careful study of the available evidence? And who can doubt there are many others who are less interested in cyclists' safety and comfort than in seeing them encased in headgear for motives of their own.

The cycle helmet has become the victim of political correctness: what Emeritus Professor John Adams of University College, London, calls CRAP (Comprehensive Risk Assessment Psychosis), where public officials make sure they cover every conceivable risk to mankind - in order to cover their own professional posteriors.

The fact is that although the UK has the second highest proportion of helmet wearers in Europe, it also has proportionately the highest number of cyclist injuries; whereas countries such as Holland and Denmark, which have a very low rate of helmet wearing, have a far higher safety record.

In truth there is safety in numbers. There is a striking inverse correlation between the number of cyclists and the number of injuries. More is better. The way to improve cyclist safety is to encourage more people to cycle and this will not be achieved by constant emphasis of the need to buy and wear special gear.

Below are cycling leaflets produced by Anglesey County Council over recent years. The first features riders without headgear, the later one with. We wonder what debate went on behind closed doors before Anglesey council decided to withdraw the first, and issue the second. We know which one most accurately reflects the sheer joy of cycling!