Jersey politicians reject by one vote compulsory helmet law for all cyclists
Blanket compulsion defeated, but lids must be worn by all cyclists under the age of 18
Politicians in Jersey have rejected by a solitary vote a proposal to make it compulsory for all cyclists, including adults, to wear a helmet, although they approved by a margin of two to one similar measures for children aged under 18.
The laws to make helmets compulsory either for all cyclists in public places or just for under-18s were proposed to the island’s parliament, the States, by Deputy Andrew Green, a long-time campaigner for compulsion after his son suffered a brain injury after coming off his bike in 1988 when he was aged nine.
The motion to make it compulsory for all cyclists was defeated by 25 votes to 24, while that in favour of applying it to under-18s was carried by 32 votes to 16.
Opponents were led by Deputy Daniel Wimberley, who cited evidence which he said proved that wearing a helmet could make head injuries worse.
According to the BBC, Deputy Green told the States that although it was impossible to change what had happened to his son, “we can help to reduce the risks for others, and avoid years of emotional and financial costs for individuals and their families."
Deputy Wimberley, however, argued that as well as potentially making injuries worse, making helmet use compulsory could also discourage people from cycling in the first place.
"I do believe that this proposal is put forward by a well-intentioned lobby group,” he said, “but they are proposing a law that would affect half of islanders, effectively criminalising them on a scientific basis that is so weak."
Some of the arguments revolved around whether the states should actually be seeking to impose helmet-wearing on cyclists to begin with.
One opponent of compulsion, Deputy Sean Power, said: “I wear a helmet 99% of the time, but I don’t want to be forced to wear a helmet 100% of the time.”
Another, Deputy Phil Rondel, argued that the focus should be on educating people about why it was important to wear a helmet, rather than forcing them to do so.