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"For me the joy of cycling is to have the wind in your hair, such as I have left…"...

He may have swung the axe that felled Cycling England but Transport Minister Norman Baker, whose portfolio includes cycling, walking and local transport is said to be lifelong bike enthusiast.

When he swings a leg over his bike, however, he does so without protective headgear and perhaps befitting a Liberal Democrat MP he says he feels it his “libertarian right” to do so.

"I don't wear a helmet when I cycle. The first reason is that I don't want to. I don't want to wear something on my head," he told the Guardian.

"For me the joy of cycling is to have the wind in your hair, such as I have left. It's free, it's unencumbered; I don't want to be loaded down."

But the Minister added that he is not suggesting that all cyclists follow his lead.

“The responsibility is only towards myself. It's not like drinking and driving where you can damage other people. You do no harm. I'm not encouraging people not to do this, I'm just saying I make a decision not to," he said.

"I don't always have to live government policy," he continued. "We all have a life outside politics.The official government line is to draw attention to the benefits - especially for children. I don't dissent from that line. I'm just saying personally I don't want to have to wear one."

But Joel Hickman, spokesman for the road safety charity Brake, told the Guardian:.
"Ministers should practise what they preach and when a minister directly responsible for cycling safety refuses to wear a cycle helmet, we then have to look at their suitability for the role."