A Private Members' Bill that would make it compulsory for under-14s to wear cycling helmets was presented to the UK Parliament last week. The Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill, put forward by Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, would not criminalise those caught without helmets, instead requiring proof of purchase with 28 days to avoid a fine.
“Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families,” said Ms Brooke. “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. We owe it to children to protect them in the years before they are old enough to make their own minds up. More children wearing helmets will mean a reduction in child deaths and serious brain injury. Through this Bill I hope we can make cycling even safer, and encourage children to get out on their bikes."
She said the bill has the support of the British Medical Association, brain injury charity Headway, Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, Child Brain Injury Trust, road safety charity BRAKE, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust, who all deal directly with the effects of brain injury.
But cycling-specific campaign groups have long argued that making helmets compulsory would put people off cycling in the first place. CTC believes any helmet compulsion law in Britain would, as has been seen in other countries who've adopted a similar law, reduce the number cyclists on the road and that it should be left to the individual, or parent, to decide whether one should be worn.
And RoSPA - the Royal Society for the prevention of accidents - don't believe it would be a desirable exercise for the police to stop 10-year-olds in the street who aren’t wearing helmets, especially in light of deep budget cuts.
No debate was heard on the bill in Parliament last week. It will have a second reading debate on 4 November, and faces a long road before it can make it into the statute books.