Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Road Safety Issues
I propose to take Questions Nos. 445 and 446 together.
It is long-standing Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of safety helmets by cyclists in general.
However, opinion is divided internationally on whether the wearing of helmets is best achieved through statutory requirements or through other strategies. Making helmets compulsory would raise a number of difficulties. In particular it would be necessary to have an enforcement system, with penalties for cycling without a helmet. The matter was considered during the preparation of the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. Although the Strategy strongly favours encouraging the use of helmets, it stopped short of recommending making their wearing compulsory.
Promoting the wearing of cycle helmets is currently achieved by educational and publicity campaigns rather than by a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle. Consequently, I have no plans at present to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets a legal requirement.
In the matter of lights, it is already a requirement to have lights at the front and rear of bicycles. This is set out in Regulation 29 of the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations, 1963 (S.I. No. 189 of 1963). The Regulations require both front and rear lights to be ‘duly lit’, therefore the lights must be in working order, as suggested by the Deputy.