Poll: Bicycle Helmets Should Not Be Forced

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LONDON, July 29 (UPI) — Forcing people to wear bicycle helmets may cause people to give up cycling altogether and lose the health benefits of regular exercise, a British journal says.

In a poll published in the British Medical Journal, two thirds of the publication’s readers said they opposed compulsory helmets for adults, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

“It gives out the message that cycling is dangerous, which it is not,” one respondent said. “The evidence that cycling helmets work to reduce injury is not conclusive.

“What has, however, been shown is that laws that make wearing helmets compulsory decrease cycling activity. Cycling is a healthy activity and cyclists live longer on average than non-cyclists.”

Australia made bicycle helmets compulsory in 1991 but Sydney University researchers say the law should be repealed, arguing a decrease in head injuries was because of road safety improvements rather than the law, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The researchers cited figures from Western Australia indicating a 30 percent drop in cycling rates after the passage of the legislation.

“Since nowhere with a helmet law can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, only a reduction in cyclists, why would anyone want to bring in a law for something, which is clearly not effective at reducing the risk to cyclists?” asked one respondent in the BMJ poll of 1,427 people.

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