There’s no getting around it – the image of cycling in the UK is very poor from a safety point of view. But don’t be fooled – the safety of cyclists in the UK is actually better than that of pedestrians, even though cyclists are sharing the road with “all that traffic”.
Nobody can deny that people do fall off their bikes and a tiny minority (approx. 30 per year) are recorded as receiving serious injuries, though by no means all suffer lasting damage. Yes, sometimes people receive a permanent injury or even die – a tragedy each and every time.
But if you jump on a bike right this minute, bareheaded to the world, your life expectancy will increase.[16, 17] Bear that in mind when you consider the wisdom of calling cycling a risky activity – it’s so risky that not doing it will cause you to die sooner! Perhaps this is a sad indictment of our nation’s health, but the fact remains.
This page is not concerned with the possibility that helmets might reduce cycling injuries – it’s to make you appreciate that even riding bareheaded is safe by any normal meaning of the word. In the UK, the average cyclist could expect to ride almost 20,000,000 miles before having a fatal accident – this would take the average cyclist almost 500,000 years!
That’s right – half a million years. It’s only the fact that there are quite a lot of people riding their bikes that we get any injuries at all!
It’s vital to keep perspective when faced with the heartfelt, emotive pleas of those hurt or bereaved through cycling accidents. Yes, they have suffered a tragic loss, but legislation affecting every single person in a country must be evidence-based, not driven by knee jerk reaction or opportunist lobbying by single interest groups.