by Larry Neild
LONDON, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Britain's cycling hero Geraint Thomas, winner of this year's famous Tour de France winner, said Sunday that the wearing of helmets by cyclists should be made compulsory.
His call, in his first in-depth interview since his win in Paris, has re-opened a debate about the need for cyclists to wear head protection while on the roads of Britain.
Thomas, 32, was a member of Great Britain's gold-medal-winning team pursuit in the velodrome at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and then again at the London Games of 2012.
His win in the Tour de France has propelled him to instant stardom in the cycling world.
He said in the interview in the Sunday Times magazine that he had never cycled in London, and he would "certainly make helmets compulsory."
"Cycling is a bigger deal every year in Britain," he said,: "British cyclists have won six of the last seven Tours de France. British roads are full of bikes these days, and there is an aggressive macho culture in some parts of this craze.
"Things have improved a lot since 2008 and 2012, after the Olympics, when cycling really caught on," Thomas added. "
He added the problem was that cyclists and drivers saw each other as enemies.
"A cyclist can get cut up by a car and the driver has been an idiot, but 10 minutes later that cyclist is jumping a red light. You've got to share the road," said Thomas.
"London is different. I've never ridden a bike in London, apart from in a race. I've watched from a taxi and it does seem a bit crazy. I would certainly make helmets compulsory. I always wear a helmet, I've put on a helmet more times than I've buckled a seatbelt. Helmets have come on a lot, well ventilated, not too hot, you don't look stupid, no reason not to," he said.
Whether cyclists in Britain should be made to wear helmets has proved to be a long-running issue among fans of pedal power.
One media report, responding to Thomas' call said the charity Cycling UK believed there is no justification for making helmet-wearing compulsory, arguing it could undermine levels of cycle use.
On its website Cycling UK said it opposes both cycle helmet laws and to helmet promotion campaigns because these are almost certainly detrimental to public health.
"Evidence shows that the health benefits of cycling are so much greater than the relatively low risks involved, that even if these measures caused only a very small reduction in cycle use, this would still almost certainly mean far more lives being lost through physical inactivity than helmets could possibly save, however effective," said the charity. It added there are also serious doubts about the effectiveness of helmets.
Chris Boardman, the former professional cyclist and current Greater Manchester commissioner for walking and cycling, has also previously stated his opposition to a law change, said one a media report Sunday.