Health and Safety

Health and Safety

Good news: "Cycling gets safer the more cyclists there are." That's the clear message from the CTC's [1] Safety in Numbers campaign.

More good news: Cycling brings lots of health benefits [2].

And finally: Experts disagree about the exact ratio, but they all agree that the health benefits outweigh the risks many-fold [3].

We are not big and shiny

It seems too obvious to be true, but we believe one reason why us cyclists can be harder to see is because we aren't big and shiny. You'll likely have seen an old war film where someone gives away their position by having the sun glint off their binoculars. Now scale that up to the size of a car, and compare the car with the mostly matt world around it.

So it's not surprising that many cyclists choose to wear high-visibility clothing and light up their bikes "like a Christmas tree". However:

  • "It probably helps drivers spot cyclists more readily, but whether it actually makes them safer is much harder to prove (which it hasn’t so far)." [4]
  • We have seen a Dutch cartoon where a motorist is apologising to a police officer for crashing into a road-side Christmas tree festooned with lights and decorations; he's saying, "Sorry, I thought it was a cyclist." :-)
  • Cycling in such a manner that your intentions are clear to other road users is important.

We don't all wear helmets

It is a matter of personal choice whether or not to wear a cycle helmet, something that is supported by CTC, the UK’s largest cycling charity [1].

Whether you do or not might depend on your age and/or the nature of your cycling. So children, off-road cyclists, racers, and stunt riders are more likely to wear one. For utility cycling to the shops or to work, fewer people wear them.

If you are at all undecided, we recommend that you read the Why Cycle article [5].

Links / References / Footnotes

  1. CTC - the UK's national cyclists' organisation:
  2. See the Active Travel publications from Sustrans:
  3. The origin of this is the report "Cycling towards health and safety". British Medical Association ISBN 0-19-286151-4.1992.
  4. From CTC's "10 Common Questions about Cycling".
  5. Why Cycle's helmet article: