British cycling organisations the CTC and Sustrans have jointly launched a petition to fight against cycle helmet compulsion in Northern Ireland.

In January, the Cyclists Protective Headgear Bill was voted in by the Northern Ireland Assembly prior to approval by the Environment Committee. If brought into law it would be a requirement for all cyclists to wear a helmet in a public place.

The CTC and Sustrans argue that there is evidence that helmet compulsion leads directly to a drop in numbers of people cycling – both organisations stress that they are not anti-helmet, but are against the notion of compulsory wearing of helmets.

“Cycling for day-to-day journeys is a relatively safe activity and it gets safer the more people there are cycling,” said CTC campaigns and policy director Roger Geffen.

“This bill may be well-intentioned, but it will deter vast numbers of people from cycling, while increasing the risk for those who remain. At a time of mounting concern about obesity and climate change, scaring people into car-dependence is bound to shorten more lives than helmets would possibly save.

“I’d recommend our petition to everyone who enjoys cycling. With their support we can defeat this fundamentally flawed bill.”

Sustrans Northern Ireland director Steven Patterson added: “We share the wish of the supporters of this bill to improve the safety of cyclists but there are many better ways of doing this, such as giving every child on-road cycle training or reducing speed limits to 20mph in residential areas.”

Although the helmet legislation only affects those in Northern Ireland, anyone living in England, Scotland or Wales can add their name to the petition.

CTC and Sustrans are planning on submitting the petition along with supporting evidence that helmet compulsion can lead to a downturn in cyclist numbers to the legislative committee.

Related link

Controversy over helmet law proposal in Northern Ireland

External link

CTC and Sustrans petition

  • Ken Evans

    The danger is with vehicle drivers not cyclists.

    A regular test (e.g. every 5 years) of driver ability, vision, and health,
    would make the roads safer for everyone.

    Pilots need to prove that they are capable of being alert
    and in control of their machine.
    And there are far more car crashes, than plane crashes.

    The testing of drivers could also provide some income for government,
    which could for example be spent on repairing roads !

  • Irish BMC

    A few initial thoughts:

    Who will police this? Who will fine the Polish Paper sellers? – they ride home at night on bikes with no lights, reflective gear or even working brakes!

    Why not wear a helmet anyway?

    Can someone show me proof that a helmet makes any difference if knocked down by a car doing over 30mph.

    Our politicians (aka muppets) would be better trying to fix the economy. Either that or introduce a ‘cycle to dole’ scheme.

    For any readers in mainland UK – our politicians in NI have very little to do all day…

  • Wrongheaded

    You can read more about the case against mandatory helmet legislation in Northern Ireland on the Wrongheaded campaign site, including further actions that can be taken beyond just signing the petition.

    See http://www.wrongheaded.org.uk