A Eurosport presenter has defended her decision not to wear a cycling helmet after receiving criticism on social media.
Writing in her column for cycling publication Rouleursports broadcaster Orla Chennaoui, 43, from Northern Ireland, says she chooses not to wear the safety headgear because she believes it could increase the risk of an accident – even while riding an e-bike.
In many of her recent posts, Chennaoui uses a Tenways e-bike, which costs around £1,900 and can reach speeds of 16mph.
The Amsterdam presenter, who has two children, says that every time she posts photos of herself cycling around without a helmet, she receives ‘incredulous, disappointed, belittling’ reactions from people who say: ‘You should know better’.
Orla Chennaoui, 43, a presenter for Eurosport and TNT, says she has been criticized for sharing clips of her cycling around Amsterdam, where she lives, on an e-bike without a helmet. The Tenways e-bike is believed to reach speeds of 16mph
The Northern Irish former triple jumper says she felt compelled to respond to criticism of the controversial subject in the column, saying she would wear a helmet in countries where cycling is not common, but says it is so much a part is part of Dutch life that she doesn’t do that. “I don’t feel like she needs that in the city where she lives.
It is estimated that approximately 63 percent of Amsterdam residents use bicycles every day to get around the city.
She posted about the column on Instagram: ‘I often get asked why I post photos while cycling through Amsterdam without a helmet on my back.
‘I have all the respect for anyone who wears a helmet, I always wear one on my racing bike and I understand the arguments for that perfectly.’
The sports presenter says videos of her without a helmet have evoked ‘contempt’ from some on social media, forcing her to defend her decision in a column for cycling magazine Rouleur.
In its article, the broadcaster referred to 2016 research on the effectiveness of bicycle helmets, which showed that cars came closer to cars wearing a safety helmet.
Chennaoui says in her article that the arguments for not wearing one are “nuanced” and points to research that suggests cyclists who wear helmets may take more risks than those who don’t.
In 2016, the University of Bath conducted a study in which a psychologist, Dr. Ian Walker, used a bicycle equipped with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from more than 2,500 overtaking motorists.
He found that drivers were twice as likely to get closer to the bike when wearing a helmet. Drivers passed an average of 3 inches closer when wearing a helmet than when not wearing a helmet.
Chennaoui encouraged people not to respond to posts on her social media accounts with negative comments, but instead asked people to lobby their local MPs for better cycling safety initiatives
The broadcaster encouraged people not to respond to posts on its social media accounts with negative comments, but instead asked people to lobby their local MPs for better cycling safety initiatives.
The UK government’s position remains that it encourages the wearing of helmets but has not introduced legislation making it illegal not to wear one – despite several attempts by politicians in recent years to change the law.
Earlier this year in Britain, Tory MP said Mark Pawsey has introduced a bill in the House of Commons to make it mandatory to wear a helmet when cycling, after being inspired by the story of a teenager in his Rugby constituency.
Oliver Dibsdale was just 15 when he got off his bike on the way to school. He was not wearing a helmet and suffered a life-changing brain injury after hitting his head. Doctors say he might have been less serious if he had been wearing a helmet.
The teenager said: ‘I thought I was untouchable, but what I thought was so wrong. My foot simply slipped off the pedal, which could have happened to anyone. So it’s simple: provide head protection on all types of bicycles, not just on motorcycles.’