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Northern Ireland's compulsory helmet Bill appears doomed

Proposal not widely supported by either Sinn Féin or DUP

A proposal to make wearing helmets compulsory for cyclists in Northern Ireland appears to be dead in the water, for now at least.

Roger Geffen of the CTC, who on Wednesday gave evidence to Northern Ireland Assembly in opposition of the proposal, has told that the Bill will run out of time when  the current Assembly is dissolved prior to the May elections. In theory, he said, the Bill could go through before that dissolution on March 24, but it appears that all sides now accept that this will not happen.

The CTC Campaigns Director told us: “Neither the DUP nor Sinn Féin – the two biggest parties in the Assembly - were interested in the Bill. The DUP felt that this would be legislation intruding into areas of life where it doesn’t need to go especially as they accepted that cycling is not a particularly dangerous activity. They also took on board our evidence that compulsory helmet use would seriously undermine cycle sales and the cycle tourist industry.

“Sinn Féin members had different concerns which were to do with the prospect of police going into disadvantaged communities and targeting young people for not wearing helmets. We produced evidence to show that people in less well off areas are less likely to wear helmets, so they could see how the policing would have to respond to that.”

He added: “In practice this Bill is just going to run into the sand but given the reaction of the DUP and Sinn Féin I can see how Pat Ramsey [the SDLP Assembly member and ex-mayor of Londonderry who is proposing the legislation] is likely to be thinking that it doesn’t really have any prospects even in a new Parliament.”


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