Two Cambridgeshire councillors have called for tighter regulations on cyclists, such as making third-party insurance and helmet use mandatory, reports Cambridge News. The councillors argue that legislation is needed now that cyclists are having ‘large amounts money from the taxpayer poured onto them’.
The councillors were speaking at a highways and community infrastructure committee meeting at which it was revealed that serious accidents involving cyclists were up by around 30 per cent since 2005, with the number of cyclists up by around 50 per cent in the same period.
After first asking police whether it was illegal to ride without a helmet, Conservative councillor William Hunt, who represents Haddenham, said:
"I think cyclists could contribute a bit to their safety and I think we should see if we can bring in some sort of local legislation to make it illegal to ride a bicycle without a helmet, and make it illegal to ride with one of those ridiculous flimsy tent things for their children.
"It seems unreasonable for us as a nanny state to make everything great and spend lots of money when the people themselves aren't regulated and aren't helping themselves with a crash helmet."
UKIP’s Gordon Gillick, who represents Waldersey, echoed Hunt’s sentiments before expanding on them.
"They are now having large amounts of money from the taxpayer poured onto them and there should be legislation for them to adhere to. They should be registered, they should go through a national cycling test and they should carry third-party insurance."
However, the council's cycling projects leader, Mike Davies, pointed to a drastic reduction in incidents involving cyclists following improvements at the Catholic church junction at Hills Road and Regent Street as evidence that the money was being well spent.
Whether or not cycle helmets should be compulsory is a perennial debate. Last year, a Transport Research Laboratory report concluded that such legislation would “prevent head and brain injuries, especially in the most common collisions that do not involve motor vehicles, often simple falls or tumbles over the handlebars”.
In contrast, Henry Marsh, who works at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, said his patients who have been in bike crashes have not seen any benefit. “I see lots of people in bike accidents and these flimsy little helmets don’t help,” he said.
Campaigners also argue that evidence indicates that cycling levels fall once helmet use is enforced. They therefore argue that such a measure has a detrimental effect on public health in a broader sense.