Helmets for all call is a real dilemma

IN more than 40 years of cycling, I have never owned or worn a helmet.

Thousands of miles I have pedalled, but have never felt the need to protect my skull – despite the oft repeated doom-laden pictures painted by my family, suggesting I could end up with some awful head injury.

Have I fallen off? Yes, many times when I was young, and a few since.

I remember my wheels skidding and me coming off on loose gravel outside Landguard Fort one evening after a meeting and curator Doreen Rayner putting me in her little orange Mini and taking me to Felixstowe General (as we will always call it) for stitches in my chin. The scars are still visible.

Just last week as I tried to urge my mountain bike up a slope near a field edge, a dog suddenly forced me to brake – and I toppled sideways into a patch of nettles, trapped under my bike and stung to bits.

When our boys were small, we would go cycling as a family – only one us with no helmet.

But my heroes from the velodrome all support wearing cycle helmets – and some people are calling for it to be made law.

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There are strong arguments, of course, that this would be against free will – surely it’s up to the individual to decide. But then again, if we were left to decide whether to wear seatbelts in cars there would be many more deaths each year.

Some experts say while a helmet would give some protection, it wouldn’t offer much in a serious collision – a polystyrene head case would not come out a winner against a 38-ton lorry.

Would making helmet-wearing law deter some people from cycling? Cycling, uncluttered, the wind in your hair, is one of the joys of life with real health benefits.

Cycling is safer than ever, too, with cycle lanes and shared paths – though I certainly didn’t feel very safe the last time I cycled in Ipswich with lorries whistling past my ear, making the cycle lanes not feel anywhere as safe as they should.

So will I get a cycle helmet?

As yet I am undecided – but probably more swayed towards yes than ever before.

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