The yellow helmet that was strapped onto commuter cyclist Dr James Woodfine's head when he crashed and was launched over the handlebars has suffered a "fatal injury".

Happily, it also protected Woodfine's head. Other parts of his body, however, suffered badly in the prang involving a bush encroaching onto the cycleway/footpath in Bayswater on Auckland's North Shore where he fell.

The helmet is destined for the rubbish bin, having done its job. The large crack up one side has reminded Woodfine of the value of wearing a helmet and has prompted him to speak out against the "reckless" campaign calling for adult cyclists to be allowed to choose whether or not to wear one.

Auckland commuter cyclist Dr James Woodfine's hard-shell helmet was ruined in a serious crash, but it protected his head. Photo / Peter Meecham
Auckland commuter cyclist Dr James Woodfine's hard-shell helmet was ruined in a serious crash, but it protected his head. Photo / Peter Meecham

He said wearing a helmet is "a no-brainer. Brains don't heal like bones."

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"If I hadn't been wearing a helmet I would have had a head injury," said the 61-year-old North Shore Hospital anaesthetist, who began cycling when he was 5.

Some cycling advocates assert that New Zealand's law requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet, introduced in 1994, is holding back cycling and want it changed to give adults a choice.

"Our cycling rates have dropped dramatically with the introduction of the law," Tim Gummer, of Choice Biking, has said. He maintains that cycling is a low-risk activity.

Woodfine said this is "woolly-headed thinking".

"Cycling has got to be safe. If you fall off a bicycle you are completely unprotected. The most vulnerable part of you that is susceptible to damage is your head.

"It is not unreasonable to expect people to wear a helmet because the consequences of a head injury are so devastating, and it's the public that has to pick up the tab of the extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, not to mention the human cost and suffering and the loss of a valuable and productive member of society."

He was in North Shore Hospital for 12 days after his accident on March 9. Five ribs were fractured, a lung collapsed, he lost a lot of blood and had a transfusion, and a collarbone was dislocated.

He will be off work for several more weeks and may need a shoulder reconstruction - but he is adamant he will eventually get back on the saddle, for the good of his long-term health.

"Exercise is the super-drug," Woodfine said.

The accident happened at about 8am when he was cycling to work from his home in Bayswater on March 9. He has been cycling to work as often as he can on the same route for about 15 years, but hadn't done so for several weeks before the accident.

He coasted down the path from Bayswater Ave and passed a woman jogging in the opposite direction.

The accident happened on the walking and cycling path in Bayswater, just above the centre of the map, near the point marked by the white/grey circle. Map / Google Maps
The accident happened on the walking and cycling path in Bayswater, just above the centre of the map, near the point marked by the white/grey circle. Map / Google Maps

While passing her, his direction of travel altered a little, then he steered around a slight bend to the right and hit the bush, which had grown from the left to cover about a third of the pathway.

It "grabbed" his bike and he was thrown forward 3 or 4m onto the sealed path. The jogger and another woman came to his aid and ambulance officers were called.

Woodfine said he was annoyed about lack of maintenance beside the cycleway. "I would have been alright if that bush hadn't overgrown the cycleway."

Dr James Woodfine is calling for better maintenance of cycleways after a tree growing onto an Auckland path caught his bike and he was thrown forward, suffering serious injuries. Photo / Peter Meecham
Dr James Woodfine is calling for better maintenance of cycleways after a tree growing onto an Auckland path caught his bike and he was thrown forward, suffering serious injuries. Photo / Peter Meecham

He said he had read on social media that the offending plant had been cut back.

Auckland Council's head of operational management and maintenance, Agnes McCormack, said she was sorry to hear of Woodfine's accident and wished him a speedy recovery.

"Auckland Council contractors maintain cycleway edges adjacent to council reserves."

"We will assess the maintenance being conducted along the Devonport to Takapuna shared pathway in areas that council contractors are responsible for to ensure that it is being kept clear for all users."