You are here:  Home > Transport > Safety > Bikes
University of Bristol
Institute of Physics logo
Why not try our other site: BEEP Biology & Ethics
Value of lifeText equivalent: What is the value of a life or the use of a limb?

Do you wear a bike helmet?

A bike or crash helmet works by collapsing slowly during an impact – if a human head weighing 2kg and travelling at 15kmph is stopped over 0.5s rather than  0.05s  the force on impact is reduced from 600N to 60N. This could be the difference between life and death. A national consultation was recently held on changes to the UK Highway Code which included stronger recommendations to cyclists to wear helmets. CTC, the UK national cyclists’ organisation mobilised over 11,000 cyclists who wrote to their MPs with concerns that this may lead to drivers suing cyclists without helmets for ‘contributory negligence’ for adding to their injuries when knocked down.

The few versus the manyText equivalent: The needs of the few versus those of the many. If a few people wish to endanger their own health by not wearing a helmet, should everyone else have to pay for the hospital expenses if they get injured?Text equivalent: Respecting the autonomy of individuals to make their own decisions even if they appear wrong.

Who decides?

In 1973, MAG the motorcyclists’ action group was formed from a group of motorcyclists who refused to wear crash helmets. They were protesting against the UK government’s new law and its interference in individual’s freedom to choose. However, the government argued that, if any of them were involved in a crash, the costs of their healthcare to the nation and its tax payers would be significantly greater than if they’d been wearing a helmet. The motorcyclists pointed out they would rather be dead than wear helmets and many continued to take their chances. Yet nowadays a motorcyclist without a helmet is a rare sight. Can you think of any other activities that are now or now becoming socially unacceptable?

 In August 2008 a newspaper article on whether to wear a bike helmet or not drew 163 commments, both for and against, within 24 hours. Read them  here and then use the writing frame on PEEP to help you write out your own position and to justify it.


What's your opinion?

Average rating

Not yet rated

Read comments

NOT RATED anon 16-07-08 14:10
always wear a crash helmet.

Bookmark this pagefacebook myspace bebo delicious diigo stumbleupon twitter reddit yahoo google

A young woman wearing a bicycle helmet.

Poll: What about you?

When riding a bike do you wear a crash helmet?