2 August 2012


Bradley Wiggins urges that cycle helmets should be made compulsory, to reduce the risk of injury. Here are 4 reasons why they should not:

1. There is no clear evidence that helmet use reduces the incidence of head injury, except perhaps in low speed falls / impacts.  Cycle helmets are currently required to survive a freefall drop of 1.5 metres onto a flat surface and a kerb shaped anvil at an impact speed of 5.42m/s (12.1mph). They are not designed to protect the cyclist from impact with a  moving motor vehicle. Reports commissioned for the Dept of Transport in 2002 and 2009 could not provide conclusive evidence of their effectiveness from population studies.

2. The public interest lies in promoting cycling, not helmets. Evidence from Australia, (one of only two countries in the world with national all-age mandatory bicycle helmet laws), Canada and Denmark demonstrates that promotion of cycle helmets reduces levels of cycling. Cycling increases fitness, longevity, reduces obesity and associated healthcare costs. It also diminishes traffic congestion  and fossil fuel pollution. The Government wishes to promote cycling; the culture of cycling helmets becoming compulsory would discourage people from cycling. (What TfL posters show cyclists wearing helmets?)

3. There is evidence that motorists drive more carefully around helmetless drivers, perhaps regarding them as more vulnerable. This is the phenomenon known as “risk compensation”.

4. Only in one reported case Reynolds v Strutt & Parker LLP [2011] EWHC 2263, did the court find both that a cyclist was at fault in not wearing a helmet and that this fault made a difference. The emphasis on cycle helmets can be seen as a distraction from making the roads a safer environment for cyclists.

It is upto the motorist to prove that the lack of a helmet has caused or contributed to the cyclist’s injuries. I would not comment on the sad case in East London  which prompted Bradley’s remarks,  because I do not know the facts. He offers very sensible advice to make sure cyclists look after themselves, carry lights and avoid the distraction of headphones and ipods. As he says, road users all have to co-exist. But I think he is wrong to assume that the cyclist is to blame for their own injuries because of the absence of a helmet  “…if you get knocked off and you ain’t got a helmet on, then how can you kind of argue?” The answer is it all depends on whether a helmet would have made any difference to your injury.

Helmet wearing should be a matter of choice for the individual.  As a cyclist  commuting across north London for over 35 years, I always wear one, but I would not condemn my fellow cyclists who don’t.

Myles Hickey


If you have been injured in a cycling accident, the most important thing on your mind should be recovering from the mental and physical trauma. However, the pain, hassle and expense which come as a result of injury can add to your stress and hinder your recovery. Therefore when making a personal injury claim as a result of an accident, choosing the right legal advisor is vital to minimise your stress and maximise your chance of gaining compensation.

We have all been bombarded by the highly-polished adverts on the television from claims management companies offering you “no-win-no-fee” advice and promising “100% of the compensation”. But did you know that your local high street solicitors can offer you the same deal, but provide you with highly experienced solicitors? These lawyers may not be quite as slick as those splashed across our television screens, but they are specialists with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

So why should you choose your local solicitor:

1)     Expertise: Solicitors at a high street firm will be qualified and experienced. A claims handler from a claims management company will not have the expertise of a qualified solicitor.

2)     Regulated: As well as having expertise, solicitors are highly regulated professionals and may be certified as experts by professional bodies, such as The Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). A personal injury solicitor at your high street firm will have to follow strict procedures and good practice, thereby giving you the best possible legal service. Claims management companies, by comparison, do not operate to the same standards and therefore there is no guarantee that your claim will be handled as competently.

3)     Face-to-face advice: A solicitor will meet with you face-to-face, they will speak to you directly about your accident, and they will see your injuries firsthand. If you are seriously injured, home or hospital visits can also be arranged. With a claims management company, your contact will most likely be solely via the telephone or by email.

4)     Familiarity: If using a claims management company, it is likely your claim will be dealt with by a number of different people. Using a local solicitor guarantees somebody who is familiar with you and your claim, meaning they can deal with your claim from start to finish and stay with you each step of the way. This can be important as many cases take a number of years to conclude.

5)     Specialists: If you choose the high street, you can select a firm with lawyers who specialise in the area relevant to your claim. Shop around a bit and find the right firm with the right lawyer for you.

6)     Insured: All solicitors must have insurance to practice law. If your solicitor does a bad job and you suffer financially, you will always have a remedy of suing for professional negligence. Claims Management Companies offer no such certainty.

  At Dowse & Co, our Cycling Accident Service offers bespoke legal advice to those seeking to claim compensation after a cycling accident. Please either call Patrick Spence on 020 7254 6205 or e-mail ps@dowse.co.uk if you have any further queries about cycling accident claims, or if you need assistance in pursuing such a claim.


Cycling can be a fun, healthy and economical way to travel around London; however it can also be dangerous, especially on the capital’s busy streets. Nobody wants to expect the worst, however if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, here are some key tips for ensuring your claim has the best possible chance of success:

ü      Ensure you are safe:
 Your safety is the most important thing. If you are in danger following a collision, get out of harm’s way as soon as possible. If you are unable to move due to injury or shock, then attempt to attract the attention of others who can assist you.

ü      Call 999:
Always call the police (and an ambulance if you or anybody else involved are injured) following an accident. Even minor accidents will be recorded and this data can be used to make London’s roads safer for cyclists in the future. The police can also assist you with gathering vital evidence of the scene, which can help your claim later on. Ensure that the police officer taking your statement has written what you intended. If they have interviewed the motorist first, their perception of the event could have been distorted, so always ask them to read your statement back to you to make sure your version of events is recorded properly. Check the police officers have made a note of any CCTV cameras near the scene, and note their locations yourself.

ü      Never admit liability:
Accidents can be emotional and frightening, but always be aware of what you are saying. Even if you feel that it is polite to apologise, this can be used against your claim later as an admission of responsibility. Also try to avoid casual conversations with the driver involved – wait for the police to take your statements as the things they say may affect your perception of events.

ü      Gather details:
Most drivers will stop after an incident, so make sure you exchange names, contact details and registration numbers. It is important to note that even if a driver does not stop, you may still be able to make a claim. It is also essential that you gather details from any independent witnesses at the scene, as their evidence can be vital to your claim. If you are unable to do this due to injury, ask the police, or anybody who is helping you to do this for you.

ü      Gather Evidence:
Visual evidence can really assist you when making a claim. If you have a camera (even on your mobile phone) then use it to take as many photographs as you can of the scene. For example, images of number plates, witnesses, parked cars, road markings, skid marks, your direction of travel etc can all be useful. If there are any temporary road works or signs, photograph these in particular. Try to time and date any images. Beware that the driver may attempt to move their vehicle “out of the way”. Be sure to ask them not to do so until the police have noted its position. Again, if you are unable to do any of this yourself, enlist the help of somebody at the scene.

ü      Seek Medical Assistance:
If your injuries are serious and an ambulance is called to the scene, you will probably be taken to a hospital. Try and get somebody at the hospital, or a family member or friend to take photographs of your injuries. Even if your injuries do not appear to be serious, if you are hurt then you should insist on a full hospital check up. Keep a pain diary and a record of all expenses such as prescriptions, travel fares, parking charges, and painkillers.

ü      Remember Property Damage:
Note that you may also be able to claim for damage to your personal property, so make sure that you make a note of and photograph any damage to clothing or your bike and gather receipts for their repair or replacement. If a repair will cost more than £100, get two quotes to show this.

ü      Instruct a Specialist Solicitor:
If you decide you want to make a claim, it is important that you seek suitable legal advice. Many of the claims management companies advertised on television do not offer the specialist advice necessary for a cycling accident claim. Finding a solicitor who is experienced in both personal injury and cycling accident claims will help your chance of getting compensation.

  At Dowse & Co, our Cycling Accident Service offers bespoke legal advice to those seeking to claim compensation after a cycling accident. Please either call Patrick Spence on 020 7254 6205 or e-mail ps@dowse.co.uk if you have any further queries about cycling accident claims, or if you need assistance in pursuing such a claim.