Don’t Wear That Helmet

Another contribution to the bike helmet debate (see also here):

Drivers get more than 3.1in (8cm) closer to cyclists wearing helmets than they do to bare-headed riders and female cyclists are given more room on the road than male riders, according to a survey from the University of Bath.

Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist, used a bicycle fitted with an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from more than 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.

He said drivers were twice as likely to get close to his bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Walker also wore a long wig for the experiment, and found that motorists gave him more room. He inferred that motorists give women cyclists more room. But it might be that motorists are more courteous to cyclists in drag.


  1. Interesting results.

    Of course, the other reason to wear a helmet is you have to have somewhere to mount your mirror…



  2. Pingback: jfleck at inkstain » Blog Archive » A Solution to the Helmet Dilemma

  3. FIY:
    A friend of mine once did a trip with one of those flags that stick out to the side 18″ or so. Cars came very close. The next day he tied a helium balloon to his rack. Cars would not go near him.
    I find cars give me more room when I wear my flourescent yellow Jacket then otherwise.

Comments are closed.