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Helmet debate: Chairman of brain injury charity wants Welsh Assembly to debate compulsory wearing

Says helmets save lives and prevent lifelong disability - and save money for NHS

The chairmain of a leading brain injury charity has called for all cyclists to wear helmets, and says that the Welsh Assembly should debate a change in the law.

Andrew Harding,chairman of Headway, wrote a piece on Wales Online, weighing into the helmet debate. He suggested that costs to the NHS could be lowered if all cyclists don a lid.

He wrote: "As a lawyer specialising in head and brain injuries, I represent many clients who have suffered serious brain or spinal injuries, some of whom have been injured whilst cycling, and see the devastating effects it can have on their lives.

"Arguments are also fought over whether wearing a cycle helmet should be a matter of personal choice – an opinion voiced regularly by Mayor of London and avid cyclist, Boris Johnson. Yet what is usually disregarded in this argument is the impact that a brain injury could have on the victim’s family and friends as well as the cost to us all in NHS treatment."

Mr Harding also notes that increasingly cyclists who do not wear helmets might receive lower compensation payments and different outcomes in court cases than those who do have one on at the time of an accident.

He wrote: "In legal terms, all cyclists should note that if they are involved in an accident, contributory negligence (meaning that an accident victim could be partly at fault for their injury) is increasingly being taken into consideration by insurance firms and judges if a cyclist was riding without a helmet when the accident occurred."

Mr Harding has asked that the Welsh Assembly consider legislation in favour of cycle helmets.

He cites Northern Ireland and Jersey, two places where cycle helmet legislation has been considered.

As we reported at the time, in Jersey, laws to make helmets compulsory either for all cyclists in public places or just for under-18s were proposed to the island’s parliament, the States, by Deputy Andrew Green, a long-time campaigner for compulsion after his son suffered a brain injury after coming off his bike in 1988 when he was aged nine.

The motion to make it compulsory for all cyclists was defeated by 25 votes to 24, while that in favour of applying it to under-18s was carried by 32 votes to 16.

But in Northern Ireland, a bill to make helmets compulsory ran out of time, amid widespread lack of interest for the move.

Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns Director told Road.cc: “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.

But Mr Harding thinks there might be more success in Wales for the proposal. He wrote: "I have recently spoken to one Assembly Member who thought that this was already law in any event, such was the obvious sense and necessity of the proposal."

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