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Government shuts down mandatory cycling helmets question from Conservative MP

The Department for Transport insisted the government has "no intention" to make wearing a helmet while cycling a legal requirement...

The Department for Transport has insisted the government has "no intention" to make wearing a helmet while cycling a legal requirement.

Addressing a written question from the Conservative MP for Shropshire constituency The Wrekin — Mark Pritchard — minister of state for the department Jesse Norman said the matter had been considered "at length" during the cycling and walking safety review in 2018.

Norman, himself the Tory MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, also added that while the Department for Transport "recommends that cyclists wear helmets" the "safety benefits of mandating cycle helmets are likely to be outweighed by the fact that this would put some people off cycling".

Submitting a written question, Pritchard requested to ask "the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will hold discussions with road safety and cycle representative groups on making it a legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets on public roads?"

To which Norman, on behalf of the Department for Transport, replied:

The Department considered this matter at length in a comprehensive cycling and walking safety review in 2018 and held discussions with a wide range of stakeholders as part of that review.

The safety benefits of mandating cycle helmets for cyclists are likely to be outweighed by the fact that this would put some people off cycling, thereby reducing the wider health and environmental benefits.

The Department recommends that cyclists should wear helmets, as set out in the Highway Code, but has no intention to make this a legal requirement.

The comments come at the end of a year in which the Department for Transport, led by former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, made headlines for comments to the press suggesting that cyclists should have number plates, be insured and subject to the same speed limits as motorists.

Just days later came the predictable U-turn as Shapps quickly dismissed the idea of number plates on bikes, saying he "is not attracted to the bureaucracy" it would require.

This week's words are not the first time the government department has addressed the 'helmet debate'. Back in 2015 then-Transport Secretary Robert Goodwill said cyclists should be free to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet.

Goodwill, who is still MP for Scarborough and Whitby, at the time said that while he does wear a helmet when riding his bike in Yorkshire, he chooses not to when cycling in London.

One country that does have mandatory helmet laws is Australia, where in 2019 researchers argued the laws have "become a tool of disproportionate penalties and aggressive policing".

"The goal is meant to be harm reduction. Piling on the fines does more harm than good," researchers from the University of Wollongong and Queensland University of Technology said.

Meanwhile in Seattle mandatory cycling helmet laws were dropped in February after officials expressed concerns about the laws unfairly impacting black people and the homeless. A board of elected officials and medical experts also questioned the law's effectiveness.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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13 comments

Avatar
eburtthebike | 1 year ago
5 likes

But why did this MP decide that now was the time to ask for mandatory helmets?  Is he just naive and silly?  Did his constituents demand it?  Has he been got at by the usual suspects? (Headway and BHIT).  Surely some public spirited road.cc reader who is a constituent of his will be able to ask him and then enlighten the rest of us?

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chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago
3 likes

Seeing as how it's always written down in the register of member's interests it'll be a doddle to find out if there has been any outside influence. Ah, here we are - "ZXY Office Services (BVI) 3 Ltd, 50 grand for 'consulting services' (30 hours)".  Well that's explained then, all above board, nothing to see, move along...

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ChrisB200SX | 1 year ago
11 likes

Why isn't Conservative MP for Shropshire constituency The Wrekin — Mark Pritchard asking about pedestrian helmets or motor vehicle occupant helmets being made mandatory?

It's almost like these bigots want to treat cyclists different to everyone else.

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisB200SX | 1 year ago
12 likes

ChrisB200SX wrote:

Why isn't Conservative MP for Shropshire constituency The Wrekin — Mark Pritchard asking about pedestrian helmets or motor vehicle occupant helmets being made mandatory?

It's almost like these bigots want to treat cyclists different to everyone else.

It's almost as though they want to pay lip-service to road safety but not actually have to do anything that works because it costs money.

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Car Delenda Est replied to ChrisB200SX | 1 year ago
3 likes

I always notice two things:
1) there's never any mention of financial support for cyclists, so the cost of alleviating motorist guilt is always carried by the victims.
2) it's always MPs in rural areas so that extra cost is mostly being felt by someone else's constituents.

This is purely about making sure constituents don't feel that they are being pressured into changing their behaviour. (Afterall if cyclists wore helmets and followed the rules they would be safe and wouldn't need to wage their war on motorists../s)

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David9694 | 1 year ago
1 like

drip drip drip 

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eburtthebike replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
3 likes

David9694 wrote:

drip drip drip 

He may be, but it's hard to tell on one question.  No, you're right, he's a drip.

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chrisonabike | 1 year ago
6 likes

Why can't these MPs just refer to road.cc?  Every single aspect of this topic has knocked on the head in some debate here.

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JustTryingToGet... replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
9 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Why can't these MPs just refer to road.cc?  Every single aspect of this topic has knocked on the head in some debate here.

In fairness, they might want to avoid PBU drivel.

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peted76 | 1 year ago
10 likes

... you'd have thought that the MP for Shropshire would be more concerned about the state of the counties roads which in my experience are some of the absolute worst, rather than aiming some nonsense at the two wheeled community who damage them the least.

At least he's been slapped back into his box for asking silly questions  1

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BonerFide replied to peted76 | 1 year ago
3 likes

+1 for Shropshire's roads being some of the absolute worst.  OK for tractors and milk trucks, useless and downright dangerous for anything else, cars included.

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S13SFC replied to BonerFide | 1 year ago
3 likes

Nah. 

Living in Staffordshire we often choose to ride in Shropshire as the roads and lanes and 1000% better than ours.

Cheshire's are even better!

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Simon E replied to S13SFC | 1 year ago
4 likes

S13SFC wrote:

Nah. 

Living in Staffordshire we often choose to ride in Shropshire as the roads and lanes and 1000% better than ours.

Really?

F..k me, if that's true then you have my sympathies!

What BonerFide said about big tractors (with huge forage trailers etc) is bang on, I'm afraid. Our MPs - with the exception of Lib-Dem Helen Morgan - are only really interested in their perks and side jobs and not the lives of their constituents.

Only today Shropshire Council has revealed its budget deficit requires £45m of savings for the coming year. This comes after repeated cuts by central government over the last 12 years (which is one of the reasons the road maintenance budget has been slashed, like so many others).

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