According to the UK's Telegraph, a "finding" in the British Medical Journal states that cyclists shouldn't be forced to wear helmets, because "they may give up cycling altogether and lose the health benefits of regular exercise." Wow! British Medical Journal? Findings? Excuse us while we shake our luxurious mane in this deliciously dangerous breeze! But what's the science behind this proclamation? A poll of 1,439 people on the BMJ's website "believed that the use of cycle helmets by adults should not be mandatory in the UK." Ah, those internet commenters/poll users: always looking out for our health.
Because the BMJ is a "respected journal" read by doctors, we're led to believe that the commenters are mostly doctors, and this may be true. And indeed many of the comments on the poll come from doctors who feel the government should "use a carrot and not a stick" when it comes to the public health. But there's no way of confirming if the commenters/respondents are doctors, and one even adds "this wasn’t a double blind RCT!" The poll might as well have asked "Should Doctors Be Able To Eat Ice Cream Whenever They Want?" (no disrespect, Dr. Häagen Dazs).
However, it is clear where the British Medical Association, which is wholly independent of the BMJ, stands:
Wearing a cycle helmet prevents many low impact crashes causing serious injuries and neurological damage. Initially we want to see an increase in the voluntary use of cycle helmets prior to the introduction of cycle helmet legislation and we support initiatives that do this.
Indeed, helmets prevent many fatalities, and up to 88% of possible brain injuries in cycling accidents. Transportation Alternative's Michael Murphy also points out, "The best way to keep bicyclists safe is to give them safe space to ride. Streets with bike lanes have about 40 percent fewer crashes ending in death or serious injury." Also, the more bikes there are on the road, the safer the roads become for cyclists, as this nifty chart illustrates:
But what the hell, how about a poll: