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Cambridgeshire's 'cycling champion' calls for compulsory helmets for children

But admits Dutch-style cycleways would make it unnecessary

A local authority 'cycling champion' has called for helmets to be made compulsory for children — but conceded that Dutch-quality cycling facilities would make helmets unnecessary.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Noel Kavanagh told Cambridge News: "I am aware that most primary schools run the Bikeability scheme where they are trained to gain road sense and they always seem to have helmets on.

"That made me think why not expand that because at that stage they are at their most vulnerable.

"If they wear them all the time as children hopefully they will carry on wearing them throughout their teenage years and into adulthood."

Observation suggests that helmet use in Cambridge among under-16s is quite low. Enforcing such a law would involve pitting the police against a large number of the city's bike riders.

The councillor went on to say: "I am aware it would be difficult to enforce considering how hard it is for police to enforce bike light laws.

"If we did have comprehensively segregated cycle lanes like in places such as Amsterdam it would be safe to cycle without a helmet.

"We are getting there as there's been a huge investment in cycling but until then my advice would be to wear helmets."

Cllr Kavanaugh's remarks come after Baroness Sharples (Conservative) asked in the Lords on October 23 whether the Government had any plans to force cyclists to wear helmets. After being told by Lord Popat that it did not, Baroness Sharples said she had recently assaulted a cyclist.

She said: "Is my noble friend aware that recently, on a crossing outside the House, I hit a cyclist on the back because he did not stop."

She was congratulated on this vigilante action by two of her fellow Lords. Lord Popat (Conservative) said: "If we had more people with the courage and decency of my noble friend, the world would be a better place."

Lord Lord Berkeley (Labour) said: "I congratulate the noble Baroness. I would not like to meet her when on my bike on a dark night."

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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