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MP's bill to make cycle helmets compulsory for under-14s fails

Bill shelved after failing to get second reading in House of Commons

A Liberal Democrat MP has failed in her attempt to introduce a law that would have made it compulsory for children aged 13 years and below to wear helmets while cycling. The proposed legislation, officially the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill 2010-11 will be shelved after it failed to receive a second reading last week.

Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and Poole North, had presented her bill to the House of Commons in July, but the planned legislation seemed doomed from the start since it contradicted government policy, as well as that of her own party, not to introduce helmet compulsion.

At the time, Ms Brookes said: "The law will not criminalise those cycling without helmets, instead requiring proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days to avoid a fine.

"We have a duty to protect our children, and the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill will do just that. Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families. Children are at a higher risk because not only are their brains not fully developed but they are less experienced at cycling and on the roads in general."

The bill had the support of groups including the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, road safety charity Brake, the British Medical Association, the Child Accident Prevention Trust and the Child Brain Injury Trust.

Cycling campaigners were opposed to the proposed legislation, with CTC’s campaigns director Roger Geffen saying at the time: "Where attempted elsewhere, enforcing a legal requirement to wear cycle helmets has led to dramatic reductions in cycle use – typically around a third, but with much higher reductions among children teenagers. This amounts to a serious loss of cycling’s health, environmental and other benefits."

He continued: "Helmet use in Britain remains relatively low, particularly among more disadvantaged areas and social groups. Policing helmet laws would exacerbate tensions with the police in these communities, while the money involved would be better spent tackling road traffic offences which cause danger, rather than blaming the most vulnerable road users for not wearing protective headgear of doubtful effectiveness."

Simon joined road.cc 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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