Cycling groups battle proposed bike helmet law

15.28 | 14 March 2011 | | 4 comments

A petition has been launched to prevent new laws which would make wearing a cycle helmet mandatory in Northern Ireland, according to a report in the Guardian.

The ‘Cyclists (Protective Headgear) Bill’ was approved by the Northern Ireland assembly in January and will now go before the Environment Committee. Unless stopped, it could become law within months and anyone caught cycling without a helmet would receive a £50 fine, although a first offence could be avoided by buying a helmet.

The petition has been launched by the CTC and Sustrans, despite both organisations stressing that they are not inherently ‘anti-helmet’.They argue that the number of people cycling in Northern Ireland would drop dramatically if they were forced to wear helmets, and that this would have an effect on public health, the environment and traffic levels.

Australia brought in mandatory helmet legislation in the 90s and saw a significant drop in the number of cyclists. This was largely put down to the inconvenience and unfashionable stigma associated with wearing a helmet.

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at the CTC, said: "Cycling for day-to-day journeys is a relatively safe activity and it gets safer the more people there are cycling. This bill may be well-intentioned but it will deter vast numbers of people from cycling, while increasing the risk for those who remain."

The two groups also argue that cycling is not inherently dangerous and that forcing cyclists to wear a helmet is an overreaction. They also point out that policing the new law will cost money that is not available.

Click here to read the full Guardian report, or click here to view the petition.


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    Back to damn lies and statistics eh! They are filled in by people who like replying to questionnaires whereas most people that I see enjoying themselves on a bicycle seem to wear cycle helmets. If you don’t want to wear a hat then don’t, but be aware of critical mass!

    Steve Jarret, Norfolk
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    Contrary to the earlier comment, TRL research for DfT showed that most adult cyclists do NOT wear helmets. Apart from on main roads in central London, less than 30% of cyclists wear helmets. see for these figures, and see for more explanations about mistakes by the pro-helmet lobby.

    D Sharp, Midlothian
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    Nearly two generations, (in the last century), ago almost no-one wore a cycle helmet so the Australian reaction was understandable in the short term. Most adult cyclists in GB now wear helmets, so there would not be a similar problem if the law is passed. The CTC should try joining the 21st century society.

    Steve Jarrett, Norwich
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