Cyclists who wear helmets are more likely to be hit by passing vehicles, which tend to pass closer to the cyclist if the latter is wearing a helmet.
Dr Walker thinks the reason drivers give less room to cyclists wearing helmets is because they see them as “Lycra-clad street-warriors” and believe that they are more predictable than those without.
Drivers also tend to give a wider berth to perceived female cyclists — the researcher wore a wig to test this out. He reached his conclusions after recording passing distances of 2500 overtaking vehicles, and in the process was involved in two collisions, both when he was wearing his helmet.
So perhaps I should ditch the lycra shorts and aggressive racing posture and toe clips and, of course, helmet, and instead wear a dress, a long wig and inappropriate shoes. And ride a Huffy. After all if I am riding a Huffy I need hardly worry that the lack of padding in the crotch would result in abrasions — I wouldn’t be going fast enough to give myself abrasions.
Meanwhile, the Labour government is trying to make it compulsory for bikes to have bells. Here’s one reaction:
Graeme Obree, the Scottish world record-holding cyclist, branded the move a “pointless exercise in red tape”. He said: “If a cyclist is about to hit a pedestrian, they’re not going to hit a bell – they are going to shout. What bobby is going to enforce a law like this? Yobs will take the bell off anyway. Only civil servants could come up with crazy ideas like this.”