Tuesday, 1 June 2004
Department of Transport
Question 292: To ask the Minister for Transport his views on the National Safety Council's belief that adults and teenagers should be permitted to cycle only while wearing cycle helmets and that children should not be permitted to cycle at all; and his views on the British Medical Association and others' belief that benefits of a mandatory helmet law for cyclists would be outweighed by the resulting drop in cycling, and that cycling produces far more health benefits than costs. [16426/04]
It is longstanding Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of cycle helmets by all cyclists. The literature internationally does not agree whether the wearing of safety helmets is best achieved through the compulsory route or through other strategies. I am of the view that the wearing of cycle helmets is better achieved by way of encouragement and education rather than by pursuing a punitive approach to the issue particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle. The rules of the road booklet encourages the use of cycle helmets and draws attention to their safety benefits.
I have no plans to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets, for children and adults, a legal requirement at this time. I am satisfied that at present a statutory requirement to wear cycle helmets, together with the associated prosecutions and penalties for contravention, would not be appropriate, particularly in the case of minors. For similar reasons I believe that a prohibition on cycling by children would not be appropriate. I believe that equipping children with the necessary skills for the safe use of a bicycle and using it in accordance with responsible parental guidance are the appropriate ways to deal with child cycle safety. I am advised that this is also the approach to cycle safety recommended by the National Safety Council.