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Jersey's helmet laws for children should be repeated across the UK says report from leading transport research centre...

The new legislation forcing all under 14s to wear helmets in Jersey will “prevent head and brain injuries”, according to a report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

The respected centre for transport research was commissioned to review literature on helmet laws and cycling injuries, as well as a possible disincentivising of cycling.

In its report, it concluded that the legislation would “prevent head and brain injuries, especially in the most common collisions that do not involve motor vehicles, often simple falls or tumbles over the handlebars”.

It added that cycle helmet legislation “leads to reductions in injuries in all ages of cyclists, although helmets are particularly effective for children”, and “the plausible mechanism by which this benefit occurs is that legislation tends to lead to increased wearing rates”.

Richard Cuerden, technical director for vehicle safety at TRL and an author of the report, told Road Safety GB: “There is no doubt that cycle helmets are effective in a crash, although some anti-helmet advocates still argue the opposite.

“The other arguments frequently made against them include, they put people off cycling and this results in a net health disbenefit; some even argue that helmet wearing increases the risk of an accident.

“These are extremely serious claims and the literature surrounding these issues was considered very carefully.”

TRL found that current evidence “does not support the assertion that cycle helmet legislation leads to large reductions in cycling participation that outweigh any potential injury reduction benefits through a corresponding reduction in health benefits”. It adds that any reductions in cycling activity “are likely to be small and short term”.

Richard Cuerden added: “Firstly, it is not true to state that the accident rate has been proven to be higher for helmet wearers per km of travel - this is simply not an accepted fact.

“The very large reductions in cycling activity cited by opponents of cycle helmet legislation are based on early analyses of observations of cycling rates in Australia in the 1990s, which subsequently have been shown to be statistically flawed.

“It is also important to remind ourselves that cycle helmet designs were very different in the early 1990s to those currently available, in terms of materials, ventilation, coverage, comfort and even styling.”

TRL said its report raises important questions for the rest of the UK, including “how can cycle helmet wearing rates be increased to help reduce head and brain injuries suffered across all regions of the British Isles?”.

TRL added “the lack of information regarding the size and nature of the cyclist casualty problem” is a challenge….”because the vast majority of single vehicle cycle accidents that result in hospitalisation are not reported to the police and there is limited hospital data available on the injuries sustained”.

Richard Cuerden concluded: “Cycle helmets are effective, but it is equally important to actively identify and improve other casualty reduction measures including road design - especially at junctions, cyclist conspicuity, cyclist and other road users training and behaviour, enforcement, the crashworthiness of other vehicles and new accident avoidance technologies.

“I believe it is clear that cycle helmets are an integral part of a safe system approach, which in my opinion should seek to promote and increase the rate of cycling whilst setting stretching casualty reduction targets, ultimately striving towards zero deaths and serious injuries.”

Deeply divided medical views

Views on mandatory helmets are deeply divided in the medical world. Recently we reported how a consultant paediatric neurosurgeon from Bristol said cycle helmets save lives.

Michael Carter of Bristol Children's Hospital says he treats an average of three children a month who have suffered a head injury while cycling that he believes would not have happened if they had been wearing a helmet.

His views conflict with those of Henry Marsh of St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, who as we reported the previous month, who said that helmets had not benefited patients in his care who had been involved in bike crashes.

Mr Marsh told the Hay Festival: “I ride a bike and I never wear a helmet. In the countries where bike helmets are compulsory there has been no reduction in bike injuries whatsoever.

“I see lots of people in bike accidents and these flimsy little helmets don’t help.”

He also cited research by Dr Ian Walker from the University of Bath who found that motorists gave less space to riders wearing helmets, because they perceived them as being safer than those without the headgear.

But Mr Carter insisted that the case against wearing helmets was “weak” and often founded on research that was small in sample size. He also said his experience at work contrasted with that of Mr Marsh.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

43 comments

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Argos74 [392 posts] 1 year ago
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And here we go again.

Extra large bag of popcorn for me.

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zanf [835 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

TRL found that current evidence “does not support the assertion that cycle helmet legislation leads to large reductions in cycling participation that outweigh any potential injury reduction benefits through a corresponding reduction in health benefits”. It adds that any reductions in cycling activity “are likely to be small and short term”.

On the contrary, the evidence shows that there is a large reduction in utility cycling after mandatory helmet laws, with no reduction with injuries.

On my phone currently but will post links to sources later.

I wonder who funds the TRL and if they have any links to helmet manufacturers. Just seems very fishy that they have contradicted established evidence from studies in Australia and Canada.

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AWPeleton [3312 posts] 1 year ago
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zanf, the report author said that the Aus study was early 90's and was flawed.

I dont know enough about helmets to say yes / no or whatever however i recently posted some figures where i live and work about helmet use and it was around the 98% were wearing a helmet so if they bring in compulsory helmet use it isnt going to effect cycle use in my area, but i cant speak for other areas.

The brother of a colleague of mine has recently opened a bike shop in Yorkshire and he initially ordered 50 helmets of varying quality and price, they sold within the first 3 weeks which to me speaks volumes about peoples perception.

On a personal level i dont think they should make helmets compulsory not because of health improvements etc but because its nigh on impossible to regulate.

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samuri [60 posts] 1 year ago
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Bez sums things up very nicely here, as ever.

http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/saving-the-unicorn/comment...

84% of Jersey under 17 year olds already wear helmets and rising without any legislation. What difference can this legislation hope to achieve?

Also note from one of the comments that the CTC were given only ONE DAY to review the report.

http://www.ctc.org.uk/news/helmet-law-14s-implemented-island-jersey

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HarrogateSpa [354 posts] 1 year ago
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It's no doubt sensible to get your children to wear helmets, when they are new to cycling and a bit wobbly.

When you're confident and an adult, it should be a personal choice. I wear a helmet most of the time, but not for a local, low-speed trip on a traffic-free route.

I don't mind the guy quoted being in favour of helmets, but I do object to him trying to impose his views on everyone else.

In the Netherlands, thousands of people cycle everyday in safe conditions, as a normal activity, without helmets. I think that's the model we should follow.

There are so many more useful and effective things we could and should be doing to improve safety for cyclists. Compulsory helmets shouldn't even be on the agenda.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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“It is also important to remind ourselves that cycle helmet designs were very different in the early 1990s to those currently available, in terms of materials, ventilation, coverage, comfort and even styling.”

Different in terms of protection too. They've got worse. They are tested to lower standards than the old Snell test nowadays.

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Ramuz [147 posts] 1 year ago
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I would say you can by all means encourage people to wear helmets, but do not enforce.

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Bez [593 posts] 1 year ago
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Mandatory helmets save lives, eh? Ok. As I pointed out in the BTK article, Jersey doesn't have a problem with child deaths from cycling head injuries.

Search for "jersey died head injury and you get this:

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2014/01/09/avenue-crash-driver-died-of...

If mandatory laws save lives, they're perhaps best applied to those who are losing their lives, rather than those who are not.

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McDuff73 [78 posts] 1 year ago
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as is ever the case such reports will be used against cyclists to make them culpable when involved in collisions with motorised vehicles, instead of taking the steps to reduce the likelyhood of piss poor driving and seperating the infrastructure to make vulnerable road users safe...

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Ush [692 posts] 1 year ago
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Strong conclusions based on little to no evidence by their own admission.

“the lack of information regarding the size and nature of the cyclist casualty problem” is a challenge….”because the vast majority of single vehicle cycle accidents that result in hospitalisation are not reported to the police and there is limited hospital data available on the injuries sustained”.

It gets very boring when the same helmet proselytizing tactics are trotted out again and again and it turns out that there still is no good evidence to decide on this. Alongside the damning admission that there is no data to back up the Magic Hat hypothesis the lumping of head and brain injuries together is significant: while helmets can prevent tears and cuts to the scalp, their role in preventing brain injures is suspect at best.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 1 year ago
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Im no conspiracy whack job but would be interesting to delve a little deeper into the TRL (a once government agency and now a private company) and clarify who their 'partners' and clients are and if there is any conflicts of interest or factors that may 'influence' their findings.
Im always sceptical of reports from private consultancy firms, who often file reports which tell the clients,who are paying them, what they want to hear as opposed to what is actually the reality.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 1 year ago
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How on Earth is this organisation "respected" when they release reports without evidence or citation?

I don't particularly care whether helmets are effective or not, as I understand it you are some 17 times more likely to receive a serious head trauma while in a car than on a bike, so why are people always banging on about bike helmets and not car helmets? It makes no sense at all, there is obviously a hidden agenda here.

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Mart [110 posts] 1 year ago
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Helmets do save lives, if you wear one you are invincible and can bounce of cars and get run over by lorries all day with no head injuries.

They may help in some circumstances at some angles but to make them sufficient they would need to be designed in the same manner as motorcycle helmets. I'm sure they would be comfortable when hot. Do they really think some polyurethane foam is effective against a car at 60 mph?
A report into motorcycle death's when helmet' laws were introduced showed a reduction in death associated with head injuries but an increase in deaths from organ damage / failures and other injuries.

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Bez [593 posts] 1 year ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

How on Earth is this organisation "respected" when they release reports without evidence or citation?

Have you read the report? It cites 68 references and includes evidence.

Also,

drfabulous0 wrote:

as I understand it you are some 17 times more likely to receive a serious head trauma while in a car than on a bike

That probability isn't one I recognise. Normalized by what? Where are *your* citations or evidence?

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CXR94Di2 [1151 posts] 1 year ago
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In Holland the majority of cyclists don't wear helmets whether they be old or young. The only cyclists that I saw wearing helmets were the more dedicated cyclists on race bikes who were travelling faster than casual cyclists who were doing shopping, travelling to work etc.

Dutch statistics will disprove TRL assertion.

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CXR94Di2 [1151 posts] 1 year ago
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In Holland the majority of cyclists don't wear helmets whether they be old or young. The only cyclists that I saw wearing helmets were the more dedicated cyclists on race bikes who were travelling faster than casual cyclists who were doing shopping, travelling to work etc.

Dutch statistics will disprove TRL assertion.

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kie7077 [877 posts] 1 year ago
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stumps wrote:

zanf, the report author said that the Aus study was early 90's and was flawed.

I dont know enough about helmets to say yes / no or whatever however i recently posted some figures where i live and work about helmet use and it was around the 98% were wearing a helmet so if they bring in compulsory helmet use it isnt going to effect cycle use in my area, but i cant speak for other areas.

The brother of a colleague of mine has recently opened a bike shop in Yorkshire and he initially ordered 50 helmets of varying quality and price, they sold within the first 3 weeks which to me speaks volumes about peoples perception.

On a personal level i dont think they should make helmets compulsory not because of health improvements etc but because its nigh on impossible to regulate.

So why introduce a law if it's not going to make any difference? Why not instead target pedestrians of whom roughly 0% are wearing helmets hmmm? Come on I don't hear you arguing that pedestrians should wear helmets, why not?

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antonio [1124 posts] 1 year ago
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Riding my bike in the current heat wave with the breeze whistling around my bald head is a true delight, it's pretty good at any time actually!

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kie7077 [877 posts] 1 year ago
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Mandatory helmet laws “prevent head and brain injuries”

Except some studies have shown the complete opposite, the science is really unclear on this. I'm not saying that helmets won't help your head if it hits the road/curb etc at just the right speed, but a study has shown that drivers drive more dangerously around cyclists that are wearing helmets. It it also thought that cyclists compensate for wearing a helmet by cycling more dangerously. Of course TRL conveniently ignore these facts.

TRL found that current evidence “does not support the assertion that cycle helmet legislation leads to large reductions in cycling participation that outweigh any potential injury reduction benefits through a corresponding reduction in health benefits”. It adds that any reductions in cycling activity “are likely to be small and short term”.

Wrong, completely demonstrably wrong.

Cycle helmets - CTC

These idiots (TRL) actually say that cycling could have a net health "disbenefit", and the obvious conclusion of that would be that it doesn't matter if less people cycle. (Page 33, middle of third paragraph).

Also note these people have been helping TFL with the cycling infrastructure over the last 20+ years, great job eh!

They just did a study for TFL, not to see where good cycling infrastructure from Netherlands and Denmark could be put in London but instead to see if it was feasible to put good cycling infrastructure in London, FFS. Along with TFL I'd say that the Automotive Transport Industry funded TRL have a bit of a anti-cyclist bent.

Where they have found evidence of helmet compulsion causing a drop in cycling, they mention those studies but dismiss them!

Are all of these people wrong? Groningen: The World's Cycling City

And these: rush hour in Utrecht

And what about car passengers and pedestrians, should they be forced to wear helmets too? No, why not?

Of note, the CTC report is against helmet compulsion, it cites 127 references.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 1 year ago
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So, if the Australian study was so flawed, why do they given the very nice climate have such very low modal share for cycling?

My a**e could come up with a better study than these clowns, yet they're hired by TfL. Go figure.

Yes, I'm annoyed by these cr*p-spouting 'think tanks'.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 1 year ago
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Bez wrote:
drfabulous0 wrote:

How on Earth is this organisation "respected" when they release reports without evidence or citation?

Have you read the report? It cites 68 references and includes evidence.

Also,

drfabulous0 wrote:

as I understand it you are some 17 times more likely to receive a serious head trauma while in a car than on a bike

That probability isn't one I recognise. Normalized by what? Where are *your* citations or evidence?

I'm doubtful that that is the correct statistic. What I think _is_ true is that the most common cause of head injury is being a car occupant in a car accident. That's not the same thing of course because you have to account for how many car journeys there are compared to bike journeys. _Per journey_ the result is presumably rather different.

e.g. a quick google search shows:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/04/02/forget-football-car-...

However, that its only true in an absolute rather than per-journey sense, doesn't really change the fact that you could reduce head injuries more in absolute terms with compulsory car helmets than with compulsory bike helmets.

What I wouldn't mind seeing is a careful health-and-safety analysis of, for a given short journey, the total health impact (on everyone, not just those travelling) of choosing to drive vs choosing to cycle without a helmet vs cycling with a helmet. The first would have to take into account _all_ the health effects, including pollution and physical inactivity.

I'd be interested to see how the difference between the first two compares to that between the last two.

(Did this super long report with all its annexes and references actually do that? Because if not its not much use to me)

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dazbert [3 posts] 1 year ago
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"So why are people always banging on about bike helmets and not car helmets?"

+1 for car helmets. And pedestrian helmets. There's little justification in arguing against it - such a law will undeniably "prevent head and brain injuries".

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kie7077 [877 posts] 1 year ago
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What I wouldn't mind seeing is a careful health-and-safety analysis of, for a given short journey, the total health impact (on everyone, not just those travelling) of choosing to drive vs choosing to cycle without a helmet vs cycling with a helmet.

People who cycle on average live a whopping extra 2 years. The CTCs report says that this benefit far outweighs any potential benefit of helmets, IIRC by a factor of over 30 to 1.

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bikebot [1919 posts] 1 year ago
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Sounds like an interesting report.

Does the report itself contain any suggestion that such use should be mandatory? It seems unnecessary considering that the voluntary rate is already so high.

I wear a helmet 95% of the time. Sometimes I don't because my journey is short and safe, and I can make a pragmatic and informed choice.

That seems to be what most cyclists are doing in the UK and it's working rather well.

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levermonkey [663 posts] 1 year ago
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This is taken from the reports introduction.

"TRL undertook an independent review of the literature relating to mandatory cycle helmet legislation on behalf of the Jersey Scrutiny Panel. This was undertaken to help inform the policy decision regarding compulsory wearing of cycle helmets under the Draft Road Traffic (No. 60) (Jersey) Regulations 201- ...

... especially in collisions that do not involve motor vehicles; most head injuries to younger cyclists in Jersey result from collisions that do not involve motor vehicles. Further, such legislation seems unlikely to have a major impact on cycling activity in Jersey."

Please note that first sentence. This is a "review of literature", this is NOT new research.

Please note that final sentence - "unlikely to have a major impact" - So why enact it then?

It is probably less important to see what literature was included than to see what literature was excluded.

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burtthebike [277 posts] 1 year ago
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The main author of this report, Richard Cuerden, was part of the much more comprehensive TRL report of 2009, which could find no evidence of helmet effectiveness. The new report says that it used the previous report as a reference, but the question has to be why was another report required when a comprehensive review had already been carried out and reached a valid conclusion? Obviously because it reached the wrong conclusion. It seems that TRL might not be quite so as independent as people think.

The report was paid for by Jersey politicians, and the outcome was decided before finger hit keyboard.

TRL used to have standards, now they just count the money.

Yet another report that will be held up as proving that helmets are effective, when it was just an exercise in justifying a decision already taken and has no scientific validity.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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burtthebike wrote:

The main author of this report, Richard Cuerden, was part of the much more comprehensive TRL report of 2009, which could find no evidence of helmet effectiveness. The new report says that it used the previous report as a reference, but the question has to be why was another report required when a comprehensive review had already been carried out and reached a valid conclusion? Obviously because it reached the wrong conclusion. It seems that TRL might not be quite so as independent as people think.

The report was paid for by Jersey politicians, and the outcome was decided before finger hit keyboard.

TRL used to have standards, now they just count the money.

Yet another report that will be held up as proving that helmets are effective, when it was just an exercise in justifying a decision already taken and has no scientific validity.

I'd agree. From reading the report it looks exactly like they started with the conclusion that their client required ... and then worked backwards from there, dismissing all evidence that proved contrary and highlighting anything that supported the conclusion.

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dannycarr2k [29 posts] 1 year ago
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Jersey has a fairly anti cycling stance when it comes to the local politicians.

Every now and again they get all fired up about making it mandatory for bikes to have a number plate.

Go riding, running or walking and every day someone will almost run you over flying round the lanes way beyond the speed limit.

But helmets and number plates will fix all that...

When did we stop being a community? The longest journey is twenty minutes, yet everyone is hell bent on shaving a minute off by flying round blind bends...

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ChairRDRF [308 posts] 1 year ago
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For the effects of compulsory helmet legislation in New Zealand see this graph http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/17/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law/ with likely explanations for what it shows here http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/27/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-l...

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Initialised [307 posts] 1 year ago
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The upshot of the report seems to be that helmets protect the novice from damage from the faceplant that usually follows grabbing too much brake. Surely the recommendation should be wear a helmet until you can control the bike properly not that helmets should be mandatory. Perhaps until doing Bike ability (which should be a requirement for a manual driving licence).

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