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Irish debating change to law for under 13 year-olds

Parents of children who do not wear bike helmets will be fined, under new plans for cycle safety in Ireland.

After an EU-wide audit of child safety made a recommendation for helmet wearing, Ireland is considering rolling out the measure by 2016.

Also in the proposals is cycle safety training for all seven- and eight-year-olds as part of the school curriculum.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is looking at making helmets compulsory for children up to 13 years old, according to the Irish Independent.

Some research has shown that countries with mandatory helmet laws have reduced rates of head injury. But campaigners say that enforced helmet-wearing creates a perception that cycling is dangerous and cuts the number of people taking part.

Australia and New Zealand began to implement helmet laws for all cyclists in 1990 and 1994 respectively. A survey in New Zealand earlier this year suggested that helmet requirements had halved the number of cyclists on the road.

Helmets are already mandatory in 13 European countries, and the UK is planning to implement a similar law for the under-14s.

Last month, we reported how Swiss MPs voted overwhelmingly against helmets for minors, saying that it was a matter for personal responsibility.

Eight cyclists under the age of 15 have died in Ireland in the last three years.

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.