Cycle Safely

Round & About


More and more of us are cycling, but are you wearing a helmet? A Reading-based charity is encouraging everyone to Cycle-Smart.

Cycling is a great way to get fit, not to mention the benefits to the environment and the number of children and adults getting on their bikes has increased.

But are you getting on your bike and wearing a helmet? Often considered uncool, they are quite simply lifesavers and one charity is out to promote the importance and benefits of wearing one as you cycle.

The Cycle-Smart Foundation in Reading is committed to saving lives through the promotion of safer cycling, and helmets in particular. The award-winning charity was founded in 1998 by paediatric nurse Angela Lee who through her work saw the devastation head injury can cause, not just to the child but to the whole family.

Helmets have been proven to be effective in reducing potential brain injury and the charity works with parents, teachers, police, road safety officers and healthcare professionals to get this message across. Children’s skulls are thinner than an adult’s and their heads are bigger in proportion to their body, making them top heavy so if they do fall they are more likely to fall head first.

There are a few ‘rules’ to follow when fitting a child’s helmet:

• It should sit snugly and be comfortable to wear
• The helmet should remain secure when the child shakes or nods their head
• The rim should sit on the forehead, just above the eyebrows
• The helmet should not be tilted backwards leaving the forehead exposed and should not be worn too far forward as to cover the eyes
• Straps should not be twisted and there should be no slack in them
• Ensure the helmet does not affect the child’s ability to hear
• Cycle helmets have a use by date on them – a little known fact

Angie says: “Cycle-Smart educates children to understand the importance of their brain and that it is the body’s computer/games console, meaning it’s responsible for speech, feeling/touch, sight, hearing and more. Surprisingly, head injury can follow a low speed accident and not just high speed or impact as you may presume. The use of a helmet may dramatically reduce the injury sustained. We often get sent photos of damaged helmets from people who have been in a cycling accident and they say the helmet saved their life.”

Cycle-Smart go into schools to teach in peer groups, finding this the most valuable method to change attitudes towards helmet wearing, with pre-teens and teens the hardest to reach group as much of their decision making is swayed by image, peer pressure and the need to blend in.

“Through our programme we help to empower them to make an informed choice about their physical safety. We survey the children and young people who have attended our programme and many have reported back to us how they now wear a helmet and also encourage the rest of their family to as well,” says Angie.

Cycle-Smart has been chosen to benefit from the Co-op Community Fund this year. Go online to and search for Cycle-Smart Foundation.

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