Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Northern Ireland backing Mandatory helmet law (MHL)

Northern Ireland looks likely to back Mandatory Helmet laws after a vote in the Assembly was in favor 20 to 18. The private member’s bill had been tabled by Pat Ramsey of the SDLP, who is seeking to make helmets compulsory with a £50 fine for any cyclist caught not wearing one.

Tim Edgar of CTC told BBC News: "We want to make cycling as safe as possible, just like the supporters of this bill.
"But there's robust evidence that making helmets compulsory puts people off cycling in the first place.
"That would have a significant impact on the current levels of cycling which we've worked so hard to increase over the last few years.
“Money and time needs to be invested to tackle the causes of road dangers such as speeding traffic,” he continued.
“Safer, well-designed roads must be a priority and children should be given the skills and confidence to use them, through on-road training and practical guidance.
“For a relatively small sum of money, we could give every child the opportunity to cycle safely and enjoy all the benefits that brings.”

Last year in another part of the British Isles, Jersey,  politicians rejected 25 to 24 the law for adults, but agreed to make them compulsory for under-18s.

Many politicians argued whether it was the States' place to compel people to wear helmets.
Deputy Phil Rondel said the emphasis should be on teaching people the importance of wearing a helmet, rather than forcing them to.
Deputy Sean Power said: " I wear a helmet 99% of the time, but I don't want to be forced to wear a helmet 100% of the time."
Politicians agreed 32 votes to 16 to make it law for under-18s to wear a cycle helmet.

Canberra noticed a fall in cycling rates after the introduction of the law in 1991 and  given the low rate of cycling  this was  a concern that hasn't been fully realized ,until now. You could argue that cycling commuter rates have been increasing but that has largely been due to some infrastructure improvements, the real concern is the low rate of overall cycling and especially school children/students which hardly cycle at all. Those children and adolescents would be reluctant to start cycling to work or university in the years to come. Many parents I know view cycling as dangerous would not let there children cycle to school or the local park.

Can one have a cycle friendly city with mandatory bicycle helmet laws ,many would argue no and I would be one of them. What we need  is to encourage cycling culture, one that doesn't require helmets ,high visibility clothing and lycra. What would that look like I wonder................


1 comment:

Edward said...

The only positive is that we know this will be a total failure and so will be able to be used as another example of why these laws don't work.