Friday 24 November 2017 12.50 GMT
A government review of cycle safety will consider submissions calling for helmets to be made compulsory, but the Department for Transport has played down the likelihood of the idea becoming a reality.
Jesse Norman, the minister for roads and local transport, told a conference he would consider making helmets mandatory if groups or individuals made submissions calling for as much to the government’s cycle safety review.
The brain injury association, Headway, said it would submit information to the review in support of enforced wearing of helmets.
However, Norman hit out at a report of his remarks in the Times, headlined “Compulsory helmets plan for all cyclists”, as inaccurate.
The trade publication Bike Biz, which originally carried Norman’s comments, followed up the paper’s story with an article headlined: “The Times leads with false story about helmet compulsion.”
Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman)
To be clear: there is no “plan” re: compulsory helmets or hi-vis for cyclists as suggested in @thetimes. As @BikeBizOnline reported, I don’t take a position on this. It’s sure to be raised in the consultation, and we will consider it based on the evidence. https://t.co/FppxgRXHPA
The Department for Transport said: “The government has no plans to mandate the wearing of cycle helmets.”
Peter McCabe, the chief executive of Headway, said the charity strongly believed that all cyclists – particularly vulnerable road users such as children – should wear helmets.
“This view is based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence in conjunction with the expert medical opinions of neurosurgeons,” he said. “The last time the government looked into this issue, the Transport Research Laboratory, a leading independent research institution, concluded that helmets are indeed effective at preventing head and brain injuries.
“Sadly, the findings of the report were not acted upon. We hope that the government will now seize this new opportunity to bring in measures which will help to protect cyclists on our increasingly busy roads.”
However, the review is likely to hear fierce criticism of the proposed policy.
Chris Boardman, the British Olympic gold medal winner whose mother Carol was killed in a collision with a pick-up vehicle while cycling in Connah’s Quay, north Wales, in July last year, said: “The cycle safety review will be based on evidence, and evidence shows that helmets do not make a significant difference to people’s safety. We would strongly oppose any moves to make helmets compulsory for cyclists.”
Sam Jones of Cycling UK said: “There is no justification for making helmet-wearing compulsory. It could undermine levels of cycle use and, in any case, the effectiveness of helmets is not the black and white issue many think it is.”