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French senator calls for compulsory helmet law

Hervé Maurey says it would make riders safer - but cyclists defend their liberties

A member of the French senate is calling for cycle helmets to be made compulsory, something he insists will improve the safety of people on bikes.

Hervé Maurey, senator for the Eure department in Normandy, said that even minor incidents can have serious effects for cyclists, reports France Bleu.

But his opinion that cycle helmets should be mandatory has been criticised on social media as an attack on personal freedom.

While more people are taking to two wheels, the Nouveau Centre politician insisted that “cyclists without protection remain very vulnerable” and that “even minor incidents can have major consequences.”

In the department he represents, there were 35 deaths in road traffic incidents, and in only one of those was the victim a cyclist, notes France Bleu.

In France as a whole, 159 cyclists were killed in road traffic incidents during 2014, an increase of 8.2 per cent on the previous year.

Twitter user Grostaquin asked Maurey: “So when will helmets be compulsory for pedestrians? Enough of your Draconian laws – it’s too much.”

And 65-year-old Rouen resident Patrick, who exclusively uses a bike to get around, said he didn’t see the need for a helmet.

“I see no use in wearing a helmet when you pay attention to the traffic,” he told France Bleu.

Currently, only Australia and New Zealand have national compulsory cycle helmet laws applying to all riders, although similar legislation is found in some US states and Canadian provinces.

As we reported earlier this week, the Australian Capital Territory is to consult on relaxing mandatory helmet laws but only in certain low-risk environments such as parks or university campuses.

>> Australia’s capital could relax compulsory helmet law

The centre-right Nouveau Centre party that Maurey represents currently has just 12 of the 348 seats in the Senate, and only 12 of the 577 in the French parliament’s lower house, the Assemblée Nationale.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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