Just to clarify our policy at Woodside regarding helmets and high vis clothing for cycling. We considered this when we first encouraged cycling; looking at research and talking to Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity. We found that when the Australian government made helmets compulsory the result was that less people cycled. As other research showed 40% less chance of cyclists dying from heart disease this was not a good thing. Although cycling has risks, on balance it is likely to extend your life rather than shorten it. Research has also shown that helmets and hi vis clothing can make the cyclist over confident about cycling in traffic and actually encourages drivers to drive 3 inches closer when passing them. Although a helmet will give some protection to your head if you fall off it will not save you if go under a lorry. Being seen, with hi vis clothing and lighting is very important but obviously relies on other road users responding appropriately. For the kinds of activities we do, often riding off road, and with children who are are still learning to ride, falls are inevitable, and a helmet is highly recommended. When we take children out we usually provide high vis waistcoats but we do not have enough helmets to provide these as well.
Following this we took the decision to ask you to provide helmets for children and to insist on them for our extra-curricular cycling activities and training for both children and staff but not to prevent children from cycling to school without them. When we have advertised that we are taking children on rides and you have sent you child to school with a bike but not a helmet we assume you are happy for them to cycle like that. If children are wearing a helmet it needs to be worn correctly - across the head rather than at the back and so loose it will fall off if they do.
We hope the government decides to improve cycling safety with more designated cycle lanes properly separated from traffic and measures to improve curb the pollution that cyclist breath rather than introducing rules which discourage cycling. Children and parents are reminded that cycling without lights at night is already against the law and extremely dangerous.