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Cycle helmets to become compulsory in Northern Ireland?

Tuesday 17th August 2010

A bill has been prepared which would make it compulsory for young cyclists to wear a helmet in Northern Ireland.

SDLP Assembly member Pat Ramsey has finished the first draft of the Stormont bill, which would see parents having to pay a £50 penalty if their child was caught not wearing safety headgear. However, penalties can be suspended if it is a first offense and if the child later purchases protective equipment.

A spokesman for brain injury charity Headway, said: “There are still children being injured in cycling accidents so more needs to be done through both education and legislation.

“Alongside the evidence that cycle helmets save lives and prevent lifelong disability is the common sense notion that wearing a helmet surely provides one’s fragile skull with more protection than not wearing one.

“Too many Headway service users sustained their brain injuries as a result of cycling accidents.

“We all think ’it will never happen to me’. Unfortunately, the evidence proves it does happen and cyclists need to accept they are at risk and better protect themselves before it’s too late.”

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What a very misleading headline! Cycle helmets will not become compulsory in NI, but the SDLP Assembly will examine the case for compulsory helmets, rather different. If the Assembly does look at all the evidence, then it will have no option but to drop it immediately. Nowhere with a helmet law can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, they just don't work.
Richard Burton, Bristol

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You'd think politicians would do at least SOME research before introducing bills like this.

I'm in New Zealand. We have a law like this. It has done far more harm than good. See 'Bicycle Helmets in New Zealand + wiki'.

All the evidence from helmet laws is that they put people off cycling, in droves, with subsequent damage to the national health budget and the nation's waist sizes.

The bill was proposed by a know-nothing non-cyclist (anti-cyclist?) and supported by well-meaning but misguided medical groups who look at the epidemiology of injuries rather than the bigger picture.

Cyclehelmets.org gives a multidisciplinary and less biased view.
Adam, New Zealand

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Will this law concern itself purely with cycle use on the highway, or will it take in the use at home of "fairy cycles" and ride-on toys by children under five? Hospital casualty figures show a considerable annual total of child head injuries.
Steve Jarrett

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