A Liberal Democrat MP has failed in her attempt to introduce a law that would have made it compulsory for children aged 13 years and below to wear helmets while cycling. The proposed legislation, officially the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill 2010-11 will be shelved after it failed to receive a second reading last week.
Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and Poole North, had presented her bill to the House of Commons in July, but the planned legislation seemed doomed from the start since it contradicted government policy, as well as that of her own party, not to introduce helmet compulsion.
At the time, Ms Brookes said: "The law will not criminalise those cycling without helmets, instead requiring proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days to avoid a fine.
"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."
The bill had the support of groups including the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, road safety charity Brake, the British Medical Association, the Child Accident Prevention Trust and the Child Brain Injury Trust.
Cycling campaigners were opposed to the proposed legislation, with CTC’s campaigns director Roger Geffen saying at the time: "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 continued: "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."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.