Wearing a helmet along cycling depends on your choice, the location you live in, and safety reasons. Almost every person likes to ride a bike in the UK and so they should know about the cycling laws in the UK. Wearing a helmet is compulsory or not or any other laws regarding cycling. Well, this article explains all about this.
There is no specified law regarding the wearing of helmets while cycling of any age but The Highway code recommend it & it is highly recommended to wear helmets while cycling for safety purposes. Also, the BMA counsels the use of helmets is compulsory. According to the CTC, it is more of a personal choice rather than a mandatory law.
So, that’s a debatable subject, but don’t worry I will answer that question in a specified manner later in the article.
Is It A Legal Requirement To Wear A Helmet?
Living in the United Kingdom and cycling is your favorite sport but you don’t know about the laws of cycling in your country? Let me inform you of these laws:
- In the United Kingdom, it is not a mandatory law to wear a helmet while cycling. Although, the Highway Code of the UK was campaigning on wearing a helmet while riding a bike but that was a long haul from making them legal or illegal.
- In December 2012, the journal of medical ethics in the United Kingdom has given attention to the consequences of mandatory cycling helmet legislation on cyclist fatalities and premature deaths in the UK. (source)
- This legislation compelled people on wearing a helmet for cycling so that the premature deaths gets reduced and so does the cycling level.
- But, in march 2012, it has come in view that the government of the UK is not influencing people by showing an inadequate awareness of the calls for cycling helmets to be mandatory.
- However, bicycle helmets have not shown any effective way to lessen the injury risks. The unenforced helmet laws have not made any huge difference to helmet use and couldn’t provide any benefits.
- By controlling traffic speed, dangerous driving, hostile roads, and giving people high-quality cycling training, road safety policies should have taken these measures to reduce the risk of injuries from cycling.
- For enforcing helmet laws, the country would require the level of police activity and it needed to invest heavily in promoting this law.
Why Is It Not Law To Wear A Cycling Helmet?
As mentioned above, there is not a compulsory law on wearing a helmet while cycling. And why there’s not any law on this, to answer this, let me give you the impact of helmet promotion.
Cycling helmets have not shown any successful way on reducing the risk of injuries or deaths caused by a cyclist or people riding the bike. They might have increased the risk of neck or other injuries and encouraged people to behave less cautiously.
By enforcing such a law, there has been a reduction in cycle use which can be counter-productive to health and other public policy objectives. It is not that there is not any discussion over this context, there have been many and strong opinions also on compulsory wearing helmets would discourage people from cycling.
The government has been concerned about people and road safety, they should simply aim to encourage people to cycle often as it is good for health. It is the choice of the rider on wearing a helmet or not.
Do Helmet Laws Discourage Cycling?
Yes, the enforcement of this law has discouraged people from cycling. The result of helmet law causes a reduction in cycle use especially among the people who have been the target audience on promoting physical activities.
Helmet laws have significantly reduced cycling fatalities among youth. They have increased helmet use but also reduced the use of a bicycle. Let us know the reduction in the years due to this legislation:
- There has been a 26% reduction among adults at the road intersection, two years post-law.
- Between 1990 (pre-law) and 1991 (post-law), a 36% reduction among all cyclists in Melbourne was caused during that period.
- And, more than 60% reduction in the use of cycle in Nova Scotia, Canada, during the year 1997, the year when this law came in.
- Cycling trips in New Zealand initially reduced by 26% and continued falling to 51% below their pre-law levels.
There have been many possible reasons why this happen, some of them could be: due to the cost of helmets, or this law lowers the prices of similar biking sports like skateboarding.
Should You Wear A Helmet When Cycling?
It is the choice of a rider to wear a helmet or not. If you feel more protected with a helmet, you should wear one while cycling. Some people find it uncomfortable while riding, but again it’s a choice.
If you ask about my opinion, I don’t have any problem with bike helmets, they simply protect me whenever I fall off the bike. The evidence shows it probably helps me.
There is no law regarding helmets in the UK so it is basically all up to you whether you want to wear helmets or not. No one can charge for you nor wearing a helmet but it is recommended to wear a helmet to prevent injuries, you can avoid wearing one in nearby places but when going on a busy road you must wear one helmet.
Just read on few needs of wearing a helmet before you decide:
Keeping Your Head Safe
Wearing a helmet protects you from any serious injuries caused by falling off the bicycle or hitting the ground. It protects your head from causing injuries like skull fractures, or brain injuries. There’s an overwhelming body of evidence that the health benefits of cycling vastly outweigh the health risks. The enforcement of wearing a helmet can make cycling much safer.
To Protect You From Weather
Helmets also protect you from bad weather. You can wear it if you can’t go cycling due to the bad weather. Or if it starts to rain and you’re stuck in the middle of the road, a helmet would protect your head from getting wet and can keep the rain out of your eyes.
You can also have eyewear along with a helmet for better protection from dust, rain, and other inclement weather.
For Improving Your Vision Of The Road
There are a lot of helmets that come with face shields to protect your face from dust, bugs, or other airborne objects. Therefore, it can improve your visibility off the road and a helmet with reflective strips or lights can make you more visible to other drivers during the time of dark.
To Reduce The Noise Of The Wind
Bicycle helmets come with such a feature that can reduce the noise of the wind while cycling. Helmets cover your ears and thus, can keep you from the wind noise. It can make it easier for you to ride in windy areas.
Needed For A Race Or Long-Distance Ride
Bicycle helmets are considered mandatory for long-distance rides or races. Because you’re competing with your competitors in the race and therefore, you drive faster than a normal ride.
So you need a helmet for that to keep your head safe even when you fall off the bicycle. And for long rides, you don’t know when the weather becomes harsh, so take your precautions with yourself from the start.
Will I Get Charged For Not Wearing a Helmet?
As there is no law regarding helmets for cyclists, no one can legally charge you for not wearing a helmet but it is recommended to wear a helmet to prevent the serious injuries caused by it.
When Should You Not Wear A Cycling Helmet?
Wearing a helmet for a long, and heavy ride on slightly dangerous roads kind of seems necessary for your safety. But when should you do not have to wear one? Well, it’s pretty obvious
If you’re going to any nearby place to buy something or just going to your friend’s house, you need not wear a helmet. While riding a bike in mountains, on the highway, in a race, or on a busy road, there’s no skip for the helmet. But when the risk of getting an injury is low like on the street roads, you can skip wearing one.
Some people wear a helmet every time they go cycling, but everyone is different, and it is your personal choice whether you want to wear one or not.
In a country like the UK, where there’s no compulsory rule on wearing a helmet while riding. It is up to you whether you wish to be more protective while cycling or you just see it unnecessary to wear a helmet.
Can Cycling Helmets Save Lives?
A bicycle helmet has the energy to protect one’s head from getting serious injuries. Imagine yourself, while you’re riding a bicycle alone, fall and hit your head just once and at a speed slower than 15 mph. In that case, scenario, if you’re wearing a helmet you’d be much safer than hitting without wearing a helmet. The helmet is primary there to prevent your skull from getting injured.
You’ll be alive and will recover soon if you’re wearing a helmet while riding.
A bicycle helmet helps indeed, but it is not designed or guaranteed to do much in any other situation. Such as riding on a road and hit by a distracted driver from behind, send you flying at more than 80 kph, and you land head-first. Helmeted or not.
Best Cycling Helmets
For the people who are protective in terms of sports activity, I have mentioned the best cycling helmet for you:
This is a lightweight helmet that keeps your head cool and safe. It comes with a wide range of fit adjustments and an aerodynamic design. this helmet is said to be best because it was selected for an editor’s choice award in 2020.
Due to its lightweight construction and great ventilation properties, it is used for road racing. It weighs only 235 grams in a medium size and it keeps your skull intact on the roads. Kask Utopia will control the flow of the air regardless of your riding position.
You can read the manual in its box if you buy one, and adjust it according to your head so that it sits correctly. This helmet is used by most pro cyclists. You can find it on Amazon.
But Kask Utopia comes with a big price tag which most people can’t afford to buy. For them, the best budget-friendly alternative would be:
Smart 4 U Smart Cycling Helmet
An affordable bicycle helmet with skate-inspired and well vented. Available in small and medium sizes with different colors and light-weight webbing straps and heaps of vents. The Bern FL-1 bike helmet is an urban bike helmet that brings out all the technical innovations of bike racing technology.
This helmet is also lightly weighted and features with brain protection system at only 248 grams. It also provides an unparalleled fit regardless of head size and shape. And comes with comfortable padding, a sleek look, and sun protection.
It also has a LED Taillight and Turn Indicators, it also has an amazing feature – One button answer using a Bluetooth phone which makes me fall in love with this. So, you can connect it with your phone and play music or answer phone calls.
I personally use this helmet and this is my favorite and the best all-in-one helmet in the market IMO. You can find it on Amazon, it comes at a really cheap price and has a ton of features in it.
A Guide On Choosing The Best Helmet
Stepping into the shop and getting confused about choosing the right bicycle helmet for you is common. Because of many different brands and with different ranges all the helmets come with different features.
But most of all, you need a helmet that is lighter, well ventilated, well fitted, and budget-friendly. The best helmets are the one that fits all these three criteria.
All you need to do is buy a helmet that protects you from sudden injuries, but if you want to showcase your helmet, you’d go for a higher branded and pricy one.
Are Expensive Helmets Safer?
It is not always necessary that every expensive helmet would be safer than the cheaper ones. Most people think the more expensive, the better will be its quality. But any helmet that fulfills all the safety aspects is the better one.
The cost of a product depends on many factors such as brand value, the material used, technology involved, the margin of dealers, etc.
The only difference between a cheap helmet and an expensive one is the material used, meeting the specifications certification, and additional features (Bluetooth, led, etc.) This necessarily doesn’t mean that expensive helmets are safer. For an instant, go for the functions over form, and always test the helmet before buying and make sure it meets the specifications of DOT, ECE, and Snell.
Other Cycling Laws In The UK
Only knowing the cycle helmet law is not enough, you should be informed of all the other cycling laws in the United Kingdom. Following are the summarized important cycling laws that are enforced in the UK:
- As a cyclist in the UK, your bike must have approved, perfectly working front and rear lights for the sunset and sunrise time.
- While cycling on the main roads, you should take care that to not cross the stop line when the traffic light is red, even if no one watching.
- It is the rule to drive on the left-hand side of the roadways in the UK. People can’t cycle on the sidewalks or footpaths.
- Your cycle must have a red rear reflector and four amber pedal reflectors, one at the front and rear of each pedal because these are the legal requirements for reflectors.
- You can’t ride on public roads if your bicycle doesn’t have two efficient braking systems.
- Cycling, while you’re drunk, is an offense in almost every country. And in the UK, the fine for this can be charged up to £2500.
- The fine for careless driving of a cycle is £1000 max. And if you’re driving dangerously then the fine would be £2500.
- In the UK, it’s an offense to drive a carriage on any footpath or sideways.