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."