Use Your Head, Use a Helmet

West Midlands Ambulance Service have issued a seasonal warning to cyclists of all ages.

British Cycling


With the school half term holiday next week, many youngsters will be out on their bikes.  Although cyclists have a duty to act sensibly and safely on the roads, motorists are asked to be mindful that there may be more bikes than normal about. Equally, as winter approaches it is vital that cyclists get prepared and wear appropriate clothing to make themselves visible to other road users when visibility is poor.

Over the last two years (October 2009 – September 2011), West Midlands Ambulance Service attended over 300 incidents involving cyclists.  Sadly, in some cases, the injuries sustained had tragic consequences. However, for many more, the level of injury was significantly reduced due to the cyclist wearing a helmet. There are many recent examples of head injuries suffered by cyclists who were without helmets, and others who were saved from more serious injury due to wearing appropriate headgear.

West Midlands Ambulance Service Medical Director, Dr Andy Carson, said: “While wearing a helmet does not reduce the risk of injury entirely, it does significantly reduce the extent of injury due to impacts to the head, particularly with children. Research published on the British Medical Association shows that helmets significantly reduce the risk of head injury, brain injury and those to the upper and mid face.

“Cycle helmets do not need to be expensive but could make the difference between life and death.  The cost is surely a price worth paying.”

A high profile supporter of cycle helmets is former Olympic rowing gold medallist James Cracknell.  In July 2010, he was cycling in a charity event near Phoenix in Arizona when he received a direct hit on the back of his head from the wing mirror of a fuel tanker which was travelling at around 70mph.

James suffered two skull fractures leaving his brain swollen and bruised.  Even today he has not fully recovered.  In his own words: “If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I’d be dead!”  Find out more by watching his video: 

Helmets can help prevent a head injury if you fall from your bike.  It should be a snug fit and positioned squarely on your head – sitting just above your eyebrows, not tilted back or tipped forwards.  Make sure that it is securely fastened by straps, which aren’t twisted, with only enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap

Other helpful hints for cyclists

  •  Light-coloured or fluorescent clothing that helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light.  At night, wearing reflective clothing and/or accessories, like a belt or arm/ankle bands, in the dark can make a huge difference
  • If you use your bike at night or when visibility is poor, you must fit a white front light, red rear light, have a red rear reflector and have amber/yellow pedal reflectors – front and back on each pedal
  • Stay alert and don’t listen to music or use a mobile phone while cycling – distractions cause accidents
  • Make sure that you know what the Highway Code says about cyclists and how they should react and behave amongst motorists.

You can find out more information about cycle safety here:

You can also find out more on Twitter by using the hash tag #wearahelmet