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Nottingham politicians: Cyclists should be forced to wear helmets and carry lights

MP and councillors to lobby for helmet compulsion bill also want to ban BMX bikes on public roads

Politicians in Nottingham are lobbying for all cyclists to be forced to wear helmets by law, and fix lights to their bikes, following a spate of cyclist deaths in the area.

Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and a number of local councillors are to travel to Westminster next week to make their case on the following points:

 - All cyclists must wear helmets and all bikes must be fitted with lights

 - All new bike sales must include helmets, reflective clothing and lights

 - BMX bikes should be banned on public roads as some do not have brakes or lights fitted, and should be only used on tracks.

 - More training, particularly in schools, and more money for dedicated cycle paths

The delegation will tell Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond, that seven people died on roads in the area this year, compared to two last year.

Graham Allen MP told This Is Nottingham: "These figures are just not acceptable. Cycling may be a green means of transport but steps need to be taken to ensure that cyclists are safe.

"I don't want to discourage cycling and we have some excellent cycle facilities in Nottingham. I want to see more dedicated cycle paths which are traffic-free and safe.

"I believe that we must all be responsible road users; motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. There must be greater awareness among motorists that there are other modes on the roads and they must drive appropriately. Cyclists must be seen. I think these four points coupled with an awareness campaign will have a big impact."

He added: "Our generation used to do the cycling proficiency course at school. We were issued with the Highway Code, tested and got a badge. Whatever happened to that?"

Councillor Ian Morrison added: "The latest trend to sell fixed wheel bikes without brakes is simply immoral."

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 “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.

And a study from Norway this year also suggested that mandatory helmet laws actually discourage the safest cyclists in society from taking to the roads.

Meanwhile, Cambridge Cycling Campaign will next week debate whether to withdraw backing for events that promote the wearing of cycle helmets and high visibility clothing, because "the image of cyclists presented to the public has become so strongly skewed towards riders wearing those items that the legitimacy and status of those who do not wear them is being undermined."

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