Petition against compulsory cycle helmets in Northern Ireland
1. Petition against the proposed bill to introduce compulsory cycle helmet wearing in Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Assembly is considering a Cyclists (Protective Headgear) Bill which, if enacted, would make it a legal requirement for all adult and child cyclists in Northern Ireland to wear a helmet in any public place
Police would be expected to enforce the legislation and there would be a £50 fine for non-compliance.
To read the Bill in full copy and paste this link into your browser
UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans and the CTC, the UK national cyclists’ organisation, are strongly opposed to the Bill.
Both organisations are concerned that it would undermine the aim of encouraging more people to cycle more safely more often.
The Bill would be harmful in the following ways:
1. It would deter people from cycling. Where attempted elsewhere, enforcing a legal requirement to wear a helmet has led to a dramatic drop in cycling levels. If this happened in Northern Ireland, it would cause a serious loss of cycling’s health, environmental and other benefits.
2. It would be a disproportionate response to the relatively low risks of cycling. Cycling is a safe activity which significantly improves people’s health and life expectancy. With so few injuries, the health costs alone of this proposed law would far outweigh any possible benefits.
3. It would be difficult for the police to enforce, requiring considerable costs at a time of tight budget constraints.
4. It would particularly affect people from socially deprived communities, as they are less likely to wear helmets.
5. The substantial costs of helmet promotion and enforcement campaigns would detract from better and more cost-effective ways to achieve more and safer cycling. The available resources would be better spent tackling the causes of road danger by developing safer and well designed roads and supporting programmes to promote cycling such as modern on road cycle training.