Government responds to Helmet compulsion MP
By user12625760 on Oct 23, 2007
Some sense from the Government, from Hansard: Jim Fitzpatrick is the under secretary of state for transport (he does not to my knowledge type, or do shortand). Mr Bone is an MP who wishes to reduce cycling by introducing a mandatory helmet law:
Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward proposals to make it mandatory for children under 14 to wear a helmet when cycling on a public highway. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: We have no proposals to bring forward legislation on compulsory cycle helmet wearing. We believe that it is sensible for cyclists, especially children, to protect themselves by wearing a cycle helmet. A 2002 review commissioned by the DfT concluded that, overall there is evidence that bicycle helmets can be effective at reducing the incidence and severity of head, brain and upper facial injuries and that they can be effective in reducing injury for users of all ages, particularly for children. However, the report also concluded that, making cycle helmet wearing compulsory may in some cases discourage some people from cycling, leading to decreased bicycle use. We will shortly be commissioning further research on a range of cycle safety issues, including the use of cycle helmets.
Our regular surveys of helmet wearing rates show that cycle helmets were worn by 28 per cent. of all cyclists on major roads in built up areas in 2004; this compares to 16 per cent. in 1994. The corresponding figures for child cyclists are 14 per cent. in 2004 compared to 18 per cent. in 1994. The wearing rate for teenage boys has decreased from 16 per cent. to 11 per cent. The 2006 helmet wearing rate survey will be published later this year.
While compulsion remains an option that we will review from time to time, it has been our view that, at current helmet wearing rates, making helmets compulsory would cause enforcement difficulties and without greater public acceptance could have an effect on levels of cycling. Meanwhile, we will continue to encourage all cyclists to wear helmets, through our road safety publicity campaigns and advice in publications such as The Highway Code.
We are yet to see the evidence that helmets can be effective, but that does not seem to stop the DfT drawing conclusions that they help.