Cycle helmets: compulsion

Eric Martlew’s Private Member’s Bill to make cycle helmet wearing compulsory for the under 16s

On April 23rd 2004, Parliament considered a proposed new law that would make it an offence for anyone aged under-16 to cycle unless wearing a helmet. The bill concerns compulsion rather than the use of helmets per se.

While the Campaign is perfectly aware of the benefits which the wearing of helmets can confer, we believe that compulsion would be counter-productive.

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The Department for Transport’s response

Less than 40 MPs turned up on 23rd April to consider the bill. The Bill returns on 18th June but is apparently unlikely to receive any parliamentary time.

Anne Campbell has written:

Further to our previous correspondence about cycle helmets I am sure you will be relieved to hear that the Bill was effectively talked out at its first debate on 23rd April.

However the Bill has raised the profile of the issue and I believe it is as important as ever to make sure the arguments against making helmets compulsory are made strongly. To this end I have tabled an Early Day Motion opposing compulsory helmets: EDM 1091.

That this House recognises that the greatest threat to child health is obesity; agrees that encouraging sport and an active lifestyle in children is essential to preventing obesity in childhood and later life; while welcoming moves to encourage the use of cycle helmets, is persuaded that making it a criminal offence for children to cycle without wearing a helmet will discourage children from cycling and have a detrimental effect on child obesity; agrees that this health risk is far greater than the risks of head injury posed by cycling; and calls on the Government, not to criminalise young cyclists, but to encourage cycling and make it safer by improving cycle lanes and facilities around the country and promoting the potential benefits of wearing a helmet.

It would be very helpful if cycle campaigns around the country could lobby their local MPs to sign my EDM to show the Government how strong the opposition to compulsory helmets is.

Yours sincerely,
Anne Campbell
MP for Cambridge

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