SCOTTISH cycling world record holder Josh Quigley has called for bike helmets to be made mandatory.

The Livingston cyclist told The Herald that riding bare-headed was like driving a car without a seatbelt.

It follows a debate in Holyrood last week, when Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Government’s Active Travel minister, said there was no evidence to support compulsory helmet laws.

READ MORE: Green minister criticised in debate for riding bare-headed

Mr Quigley told The Herald: “I’m very strongly for helmets and I just can’t get my head around the fact that anyone would want to ride on the road without one.”

Two years ago, the cyclist had a horror smash as he attempted to circumnavigate the world. He was 14,000 miles into his attempt when he was hit by a car in Texas.

The accident left him with 10 broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured pelvis and a fractured skull.

READ MORE: Cyclist Josh Quigley suffers multiple fractures after serious crash


“If it wasn’t for wearing a helmet I’m sure there’s no chance I would be alive,” he said. “I got hit by a car at 70mph in Texas whilst cycling across the world on my America leg, I’m still not sure how I survived that one but I can’t imagine I’d be here if I never had a helmet on that night, as I had a traumatic brain injury and that was whilst wearing one.

“It’s a bit like seatbelts in cars, I can’t get around why anyone wouldn’t want to wear one, I wouldn’t drive in a car without one, it’s just not worth the risk. So yeah, I’m all for helmets and I think making them mandatory is the right decision.”

The Scottish Government’s Active Travel minister was criticised last week after he said there was no evidence to support making helmets mandatory.

Last December, Mr Harvie posed for pictures with pupils in East Renfrewshire who were doing road safety training with Bikeability.

While the primary-age kids were all wearing fluorescent gear and bike helmets, Mr Harvie had neither.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson admonished the Green minister during a debate on active travel last week.

During the debate, Harvie said: “Look, this government, like every other government in the UK does not make wearing helmets mandatory because the evidence would not support that.”

Responding to Mr Quigley's call, Mr Harvie said “better infrastructure” would “improve safety for those choosing to cycle and addressing the behaviour of other road users.”

The minister said: “That is why the Highway Code has strengthened guidance on close passes, junction behaviour and safely opening car doors, all of which affect safety more than headwear. And that is why we are also investing record sums in new infrastructure as I highlighted in Parliament last week.

“I agree with Josh that when children are learning to ride a bike and developing skills – it’s entirely appropriate to encourage them to wear a helmet. So our pilot projects offering free bikes to children who cannot afford them also come with a helmet provided.  

“But none of the major cycling organisations support mandatory helmets. Nor does new Active Travel Commissioner for England, former Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France leader Chris Boardman. As Minister for Active Travel, I’m an advocate for creating safer environments for all road users because more people cycling is the best possible outcome for public health.”

Mr Simpson, the Tory transport spokesman, said the minister needed to set a better example.

“While this ultimately is a personal decision for Patrick Harvie, he needs to stop acting like a protestor and start acting like a Government Minister.

“We’ve seen him fail to set an example before when turning up for a photo op with kids and now he seemed quite proud to boast of this opinion in the chamber.

“The words from professionals and experts should be heeded by the Green Minister who should be mindful of the message he is sending out.”

Australia made wearing a bike helmet mandatory in the 1990s.  VicRoads, the corporation responsible for licensing and vehicle registration in Victoria, states that they led to a 23 per cent fall in head injuries in the two years after they were introduced.

However, they have also led to a decrease in the number of people cycling. 

Last year, Mr Quigley took the world record for longest distance cycle in one-week, covering 2179 miles in seven days – beating the previous attempt by two miles

In an interview with The Herald shortly afterwards, he said his next big ambition was to become a pro-cyclist and to become the first Scottish champion of the Tour de France.