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15/07/2011 // INFO 2 Comments

MP aims to make cycle helmets compulsory for children

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Though not as controversial as a wide ranging helmet compulsion law covering adults, Annette Brooke, Lib Dem MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, yesterday presented a Private Members Bill to Parliament that seeks to make it compulsory for those under 14 to wear cycle helmets.

Her Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill would make it mandatory for children under 14 to wear cycle helmets when cycling on roads and in open spaces.

Duty to protect children

Ms Brooke said she was backing the law as it would protect children from head injuries. According to her figures, 5,717 children were admitted to hospital last year due to accidents whilst cycling.

On her website Annette said: “We have a duty to protect our children, and the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill will do just that. Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families. Children are at a higher risk because not only are their brains not fully developed but they are less experienced at cycling and on the roads in general.”

“We owe it to children to protect them in the years before they are old enough to make their own minds up. More children wearing helmets will mean a reduction in child deaths and serious brain injury. Through this Bill I hope we can make cycling even safer, and encourage children to get out on their bikes.”

Possible fine

The proposed law will not criminalise those children cycling without helmets. Instead there would be a duty on parents to buy a helmet for their child if the child was caught cycling without a helmet. If parents did not show proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days they would be then fined.

The bill has the support of the BMA, brain injury charity Headway, Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, Child Brain Injury Trust, road safety charity BRAKE, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust, who all deal directly with the effects of brain injury.

Northern Ireland Bill

Earlier this year, a Parliamentary Bill to compel adults to wear cycle helmets in Northern Ireland eventually ran out of time to become law due to Assembly elections in Northern Ireland in May. It had passed the second stage of the parliamentary process there.

The Bill, which was sponsored in a private capacity by SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, proposed to penalise cyclists £50 for failing to wear a helmet. Parents, or those with responsibility for children, would have been fined for contraventions committed by the children they were responsible for.

See also

End of the line for NI helmet compulsion law?

Bicycle warehouse shows Dutch ambition

from Going Going Bike – Auctions, Bike News, Cycle Stuff

2 comments [leave one]
jonomc July 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Yes we do have a duty to protect our children – but as a father of two I know I make he kids wear a helmet if we are going on a longger ride or on busy roads. But if they are just have a quick spin round the block I don’t make them wear a helmet.
This is just the thin edge of the wedge – once this law was passed – it would then be made compulsory for adults (law creep).
I wish Government would just get on with running a country and stop trying to make a nanny state. Responsible parents will make their kids wear helmets for certain conditions – those who don’t care will not follow this law anyway.
Personally – I wear a helmet if it is raining or dark or when I am going to ride through town on roads I don’t know (i.e. how much traffic there is). But I would say 80% of the time I go without one.
 

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mike July 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

It’s worth noting that this bill is NOT supported by CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation or the London Cycling Campaign, or any other cycling organisation worth its salt.
Cycle campaigners are well aware that helmets have an incredibly marginal effect on safety and that they’re frequently used as an excuse not to do anything to reduce road danger.
Bad driving causes head injuries, and that’s what needs to be tackled, not messing around with compulsory helmet laws, which simply put people off using bikes.
No-one wears a helmet in Holland, and they have the safest streets in the world.
This is a well meaning but deeply flawed idea.

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