MP proposes compulsory helmets for under 14s

Law would see fines for parents who fail to purchase headgear

by Mark Appleton   July 19, 2011  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

Annette Brooke, the MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, has presented a Private Members Bill to Parliament which if enacted would make it compulsory for children under 14 to wear cycle helmets when cycling on roads and in open spaces.

The law, in the unlikely event that it becomes so, would require proof of purchase of a helmet by a parent of guardian within 28 days to avoid a fine.

Brooke 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.

“Brain injury lasts a lifetime. 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."

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.

Roger Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director at CTC said the proposal was fundamentally flawed: "Where attempted elsewhere, enforcing a legal requirement to wear cycle helmets has led to dramatic reductions in cycle use – typically around a third, but with much higher reductions among children teenagers. This amounts to a serious loss of cycling’s health, environmental and other benefits."

He added: "Helmet use in Britain remains relatively low, particularly among more disadvantaged areas and social groups. Policing helmet laws would exacerbate tensions with the police in these communities, while the money involved would be better spent tackling road traffic offences which cause danger, rather than blaming the most vulnerable road users for not wearing protective headgear of doubtful effectiveness."


18 user comments

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the ctc are too clued up about this to ever let it happen, unenforceable as well as the police are over stretched and i doubt they would make this a priority, then again you never know with the met...

posted by northstar [1113 posts]
19th July 2011 - 9:57


Are they also going to mandate stomach stapling at the age of five, to combat the inevitable increase in childhood obesity? Maybe politicians should concentrate instead on kicking the Murdochs out of this country, to save children from the brain-damaging effects of reading their newspapers or watching their TV channels.

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
19th July 2011 - 10:04


handlebarcam wrote:
Maybe politicians should concentrate instead on kicking the Murdochs out of this country, to save children from the brain-damaging effects of reading their newspapers or watching their TV channels.

Applause Spot on!

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [220 posts]
19th July 2011 - 10:30

1 Like

Politics is showbiz for ugly people. Therefore, I would like to see all MP's have to wear full MTB helmets to prevent us from having to look at them. Thoughts?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
19th July 2011 - 10:52


@northstar - here here. Nanny state, feeling the need to Nanny again. Spend the money on education and not wrist slapping enforcing of expensive laws. It's the responsibility of the parents to ensure they educate their children on the necessity of wearing a helmet.

I see far too many parents without helmets riding bikes with their enforced helmeted kids in tow. What sort of role model is this? Why, as an adult do we think we're any less vulnerable?!

posted by jonny8oy [17 posts]
19th July 2011 - 11:03


Better make them wear helmets while on those little scooters, skateboards, on climbing frames and in cars then. Why stop at bikes if you care so much for thier well-being?

Or is it the danger from cars that scares you most about children riding bikes? If that's the case you need more than a helmet to keep them safe.

posted by james-o [229 posts]
19th July 2011 - 11:11

1 Like

Is this really the best use of the valuable time of MPs, the police, journalists and goodness knows who else?

While drivers get away with murder (OK, manslaughter) and many other things are wrong in public life some clown thinks it's a great idea to FORCE children to wear toy helmets, regardless of whether they already wear one and regardless of whether it will make a difference. Brain injuries are caused by a range of incidents and bicycle-related injuries are not the most common cause.

If they REALLY want to do something to help prevent young cyclists being killed and injured they can put money into the provision of cycle training from an early age and explain to parents the difference made by riding safely and using lights at night. Alongside that they can start educating drivers. It might even help. By contrast, a polystyrene hat for RTC victims is NOT going to do the trick.

The funding source: a tax on all car advertising. Judging by the R&D, motorsport and advertising budgets, the size and decor of the showrooms, the glossy brochures and the incessant turnover of new models I'm sure they can find a bit of loose change to help save children's lives.

Due to the council budget cuts the contract for the cycling coach who visits my kids' school (far too infrequently) is due to end this month. He hopes to find work elsewhere. Meanwhile many primary school children won't get any cycle training; they won't get the pleasure and the benefit of participating in his classes and they won't have the confidence to ride their bikes as they grow up.

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posted by Simon E [2418 posts]
19th July 2011 - 11:48

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Private members bills on this seem to come round every few months. Maybe it's a handy way for a backbencher to be seen to be active (good local press for them).

I wonder if I could find an MP who would be up for proposing a private members bill for complusary helmets in cars (as the biggest casue of death in car accidents is head injuries). There must be far more brain injuries caused in cars than on bikes.

posted by thereverent [357 posts]
19th July 2011 - 11:58


Thankfully Private Members Bills have little chance of becoming law but they are sometimes used to float an idea which the Government take up if is popular.

This idea, although well meant is unworkable, for example do they expect to fine parents who removes their helmet as soon as they are out of sight of home?

... and why 14, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 in England and Wales although they are a minor if under the age of 18?

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posted by djcritchley [181 posts]
19th July 2011 - 12:55

1 Like

To quote Tom Hanks: "Stupid is as stupid does."


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
19th July 2011 - 14:22


i would like to propose an ammendment to the honerable member's bill. All under 14's to be legally bound to wear knee, elbow and shoulder pads, and gloves. Especially as these parts of the body need to be protected as they generally have first contact with the ground in a crash. Thinking Big Grin

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1186 posts]
19th July 2011 - 18:02

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Don't rant about this, don't let it pass. Write to your local MP with a reasoned argument as to why the idea stinks. There is plenty of material available on the Bicycle Helmet REsearch Foundation's website (

Last year I wrote to every single member of the NI assembly who had a published email address. About a dozen replied, all to say they agreed. As far as I can tell, the bill there failed, but there is no room for complacency.

posted by Paul M [345 posts]
19th July 2011 - 18:59


Right, written to my MP & Ms Brooke telling them both it is a stupid idea.

Web submission forms on MPs websites are sooo tempting Devil

posted by 0liver [91 posts]
19th July 2011 - 22:25


I wrote a response to Ms Brooke via her website; I got a reply basically saying "she's not your MP; sod off"

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [87 posts]
20th July 2011 - 11:07

1 Like

What a waste of Parliamentary time!

posted by Kim [208 posts]
20th July 2011 - 11:57

1 Like

Why is it always this helmet mantra. It is flouted as the panacea of all accidents and such. I wonder if this MP has ever ridden a bike or even understands the issues. It seriously annoys me these MP's pipe up for a sound bite, just like a short person little head bobbing up and down trying to be noticed in a tall crowd. I reckon putting something sensible forward would rise her out of the crowd much more than this excuse for drivel.

I advocate full body armour from head to toe the more restricting and padded the better, for all ages in every form of transport including, cars, bikes, buses, coaches and pedestrians, in fact compulsory for anyone who ventures out of there house. I have a separate theory for personal in the home but that involves never getting out of bed.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
20th July 2011 - 19:37


Since nowhere with a helmet law can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, only a reduction in cyclists, why does this MP think that here is different?

The recent TRL report for the DfT came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that helmets provided a safety benefit, just like the other reports which had examined all the evidence. Hasn't Ms Brooke done even the most basic research? Perhaps she's just listened to the single issue pressure groups who couldn't possibly be the slightest bit biased could they?


posted by burtthebike [132 posts]
23rd July 2011 - 15:25

1 Like

Europeans have " Compulsory Helmet use Laws " for helmets on the Ski slopes for good reason and whether this is a cynical sound bite OP or for good reason remains to be seen !

Another Italian took me off the bike on the GAP - Pinerolo etappe , skinned but not dead thanks to the helmet !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [409 posts]
24th July 2011 - 12:24