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Portugal bins compulsory helmet law plan in face of public reaction

Government in Lisbon backs down after cyclists take to the streets to protest against planned legislation

Portugal has shelved plans to make cycle helmets compulsory for people riding bikes after a consultation was met with huge opposition by from the public.

The country’s government had proposed making cycle helmets mandatory under its 2020 National Road Safety Strategy, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).

Opponents of the proposal, launched over the Christmas period, held a march through the capital Lisbon, with 600 people taking part.

The country has long had a reputation for being among the most dangerous in Europe for road users, but saw a 37 per cent drop in fatalities from 2010-15 against an EU average of 17 per cent.

The number of cyclist killed on the country’s roads fell by 44 per cent from 45 in 2011 to 25 in 2015, despite big growth in the number of people riding bikes, says the ECF.

ECF policy officer, Ceri Woolsgrove, said: "Excellent lobbying activities in Portugal has seen some great results for cycling safety and promotion.

“Dropping the mandatory helmet proposal will remove a barrier to the uptake of cycling and the new road code will improve cycling safety.

“It is to be applauded that the Portuguese public authorities have listened to public pressure and cycling associations.

“We sincerely hope that this dialogue continues in order to improve cycling safety in the future, particularly regarding vehicle speeds which are a major road safety factor and are being reduced throughout Europe."

Several EU countries have mandatory helmet laws, sometimes restricted to specific age groups.

Portugal’s next-door neighbour, Spain, requires anyone riding a bike outside urban areas to wear one, except when they are riding uphill.

Last month, France made cycle helmets compulsory for children under 12 years of age.

> France makes cycle helmets compulsory for under-12s - and wants kids to nag their parents to wear one too

During the same month, Bosnia & Herzegovina, which is not an EU member state, became the first country in the world to repeal a law obliging cyclists to wear a helmet.

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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Leviathan | 7 years ago

Where is SuperPython? would have expect something about 'plastic hats' by now.

brooksby replied to Leviathan | 7 years ago

Leviathan wrote:

Where is SuperPython? would have expect something about 'plastic hats' by now.

Apparently they got banned; I'm waiting for L Willo - sorry, for bikelikebike - to surface... One day they'll just read a helmet article without commenting, but it'll be no time soon.

BehindTheBikesheds replied to Leviathan | 7 years ago

Leviathan wrote:

Where is SuperPython? would have expect something about 'plastic hats' by now.

is your tinkle missing him...

Right and proper decision by the portuguese government, listened to what the public wanted and hopefully actually read the real data not the made up crud spouted by WHO and the EU commission which is still using (as of 2015) the utterly destroyed 'helmets can prevent 88% of head and brain  injuries in the case of a "serious crash" which is bollocks.

the EU commission then go on to state that head injuries in non forced helmet wearing countries reduced by 45% between 1990-2011 but 53% in countries (globally) with some laws, all the while ignoring cycling rates and pretty much everything else you'd care to name in terms of making a proper peer reviewed paper be acceptable to the experts. But basically nowhere near their figure even with their lopsided and incomplete data, tools!

They even go on to state "The share of cyclist deaths is especially high in Denmark and the Netherlands. The cyclists make up 17% of all road deaths in Denmark and 24% of all road deaths in the Netherlands." again ignoring the fact that the Netherlands has 27% modal share of ALL travel (rural and urban) by bicycle. Basically making out that a country that doesn't wear helmets (less than 2% I believe which includes the more sporty types and competing cyclists whom are forced to wear them) is really dangerous for people riding bikes when per km or per hour they are much much safer than countries WITH fucking helmet laws!! they are saying the Netherlands is 4 times more dangerous than the UK (6% compared to 24%) and it's all down to helmets or lack of.

But they contradict the french and jersey helmet laws (& any other countries for that matter that have an age based law) by saying young children are comparably safe whilst cycling

Even the World Health Organisation state that they can prevent injury in serious collisions and make a big deal about stating Denmark is increasing helemet use ergo it's going to be safer.

Basically the EU and WHO are trying to push helmets as part of their solution to 'safety' when they miss the picture massively, especially since they effectively mark out the two safest/best countries for cycling as the two worst for cycling deaths. crunts!

burtthebike | 7 years ago

So good to see politicians actually listening for a change.  If only they all did it.

alansmurphy | 7 years ago

I hopyou wee wearing protective gloves whilst typing that...

CygnusX1 | 7 years ago

Please, nobody take the bait!  Long weekend coming up, don't waste it on a helmet debate, just get out there and ride - with or without a helmet - the choice is yours (unless you're reading this in a jurisdiction with mandatory helmet laws)



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