Jersey politicians voted yesterday to make it compulsory for all under-18s to wear a helmet whilst cycling in public places on the island.

However, the ballot to make helmets compulsory for adult cyclists was rejected by just a single vote.

The helmet debate was hotly contested, with strong cases presented for both sides of the argument over whether the wearing of cycle helmets should be made law.

According to the BBC, Deputy Andrew Green had made an emotional plea to the States of Jersey – the island’s parliament – to bring in a law making helmets compulsory for all cyclists on the island after his son suffered serious brain injury after a fall whilst cycling when aged nine.

Deputy Daniel Wimberley countered the plea with opposition based on evidence that wearing a helmet could increase the risk of head injury resulting from a fall or collision. He also argued that making helmets compulsory may disuade children from taking up cycling.

“I do believe that this proposal is put forward by a well-intentioned lobby group,” said Deputy Wimberley.

“But they are proposing a law that would affect half of islanders, effectively criminalising them on a scientific basis that is so weak.”

The vote for making helmets compulsory for under-18 cyclists was passed with 33 votes to 16, whilst the vote for adults was rejected 25 to 24.

Questions are already being asked by both politicians and islanders as to how the law will be enforced, particularly as it will be hard to spot who is 18 and who is not. Although they may disagree on the fundamental argument, supporters on both sides of the debate would have liked to have seen a uniform law for both under-18s and adults.

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  • Melanie

    I’m a great advocate for helmet use, having been saved serious facial injuries by wearing one. It was the summer holidays, I was eighteen & carefree & was riding the quiet roads around my parents’ place on the North York Moors, coming to the bottom of a descent of 20% gradient, when an approaching car turned right across my path. I managed to stop ahead of the car, by judicious use of my elbows, knees & face. The scratches in my glasses, while expensive to remedy, were preferable to the glasses being smashed into my face, and my scars today are limited to the grey patch on my top lip where a little piece of Yorkshire road still resides.

    Within the last year I’ve seen both my husband and one of our close friends saved from head injuries by helmets – an 18mph head-first impact with the A-pillar of a taxi resulted in a superficially damaged helmet, a written-off bike (and taxi, result!) but an intact husband – not even concussed. Our friend’s doctor was convinced that his impact with a pedestrian & shortly afterwards the road would have resulted in a fractured skull & spinal injury, had he not been wearing a helmet.

    So yes, helmets DO work. No, they’re not always pretty, but they look a damn sight better than a scarred face or a broken skull.