Helmet Debate Continues

Posted by chdot on October 17, 2007

Scotland on Sunday ran a story headed “Whose parents will soon be fined?”. It began “CHILD cyclists will be forced to wear helmets under a new law to be introduced this week which aims to cut the tragic toll of youngsters killed or injured while riding bikes.” A few paragraphs later it added “The bill is being presented to MPs on Tuesday as a Ten Minute Rule Bill, giving Bone 10 minutes to argue his case in the House of Commons. If approved, the bill becomes a Private Members Bill, which generally requires government backing to stand any chance of becoming law.”

Which of course is the crucial fact as few Private Member’s Bills become law. It went on to say that “Tory Peter Bone has the backing of the Department of Transport for his new law, The Bicycles (Children’s Safety Helmets) Bill. Officials say they will support the change if, as expected, its latest review confirms that cycle helmets improve road safety.”

It’s hard to say where the “as expected” came from – in July Jim Fitzpatrick, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, told Mr. Bone:

“The Department is planning to commission a new research project on cyclists’ road safety in the autumn. This will include a new review of cycle helmet effectiveness. The research project as a whole is likely to take three years, but we are aiming to complete the review of cycle helmet effectiveness within two years, so by autumn 2009.” (As reported in

The SoS piece generated a lively response including a post from Colin Clarke who presented a paper at this year’s Velo City cycling conference in Munich – “The case against cycle helmets and legislation” – (extended PDF version).

Report on today’s House of Commons proceedings in BikeBiz.

The bill will receive its second reading on 19th October.


3 Responses to “Helmet Debate Continues”

  1. I don’t wear a helmet when I’m cycling for many reasons including:
    * Any accident I’ve had, a helmet wouldn’t have helped.
    * Passing vehicles will often give a wider gap for cyclists without a helmet, thus causing a safer cycling environment without a helmet.
    * I get an itchy head when wearing a helmet, causing a distraction from concentrating on the road.

  2. chdot said

    Research just published in Accident Analysis & Prevention indicates that drivers drive (on average) 8cm closer to cyclists wearing helmets than to those without. Inevitably misjudgements are made.

  3. jacquiephelan said

    I just heard today that some guy figured out that putting a blonde wig on before cycling to work got him an extra couple of feet berth.
    Naturally I want to find the source document
    but it wouldn’t be hard test this observation in the meantime,
    see if drivers are more cautious with women cyclists of a certain coiffure.
    Then, if tis true, you could wear wigs not helmets, or append blonde tresses to the rim of one’s brain bucket.
    I do think about the stats, how bike friendly countries have better per/mile/person statistics than the US , where helmet use is heavily encouraged, even mandated in some states for kids….But bike friendly countries have more savvy drivers…it might not have anything to do with the helmet.

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