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Cyclists in Cyprus call for repeal of compulsory helmet law

Police insist that legislation that came into force on Wednesday is aimed at protecting people on bikes

Cyclists in Cyprus have called for a law that came into force this week making cycle helmets compulsory to be repealed.

The Mediterranean country joins Argentina, Australia and New Zealand as the only countries in the world that currently have a mandatory helmet law for people riding bikes.

After the law came into effect on Wednesday, news website In Cyprus reported that cycling campaigners want it overturned immediately, saying that it will discourage people from riding bikes.

One source quoted on the website said: “We believe that all cyclists should be able to choose what they wear on their bikes, and should be respected if they choose to wear a helmet of if they choose not to.”

Under the new law, cyclists riding without a helmet will face a fine of €50, although according to traffic police officer Harris Evripidou, a light touch will be taken towards enforcement, although he added that the legislation had been brought in to protect people riding bikes.

“We will be lenient,” he said. “Where we see cyclists riding in places where their lives are endangered, namely on highways and busy roads where they mix with vehicles, then they will be fined.”

He also said that four cyclists had been killed on the island’s roads last year, of whom two who were not wearing a helmet died due to head injuries.

“These figures, show us that not wearing one has that effect, whether the cyclist is at fault or not. So, our recommendation is that helmet use should be enforced to protect cyclists,” he added.

Cycle helmets within European Union member states, including Cyprus, must meet the EN 1078 standard, which requires a deceleration of no more than 250g to be transmitted to the head in an impact at 5.42-5.52 metres per second (a little over 12 mph).

While that would be equivalent to, say, a fall to the ground from a standing position, under the EN1078 standard, the specification does not require cycle cycle helmets to be able to withstand angled or oblique impacts, nor to provide protection in collisions in which a motor vehicle is involved.

In December, Japan announced that it would make helmets compulsory for bike riders with effect from 1 April, although there will be no sanction for anyone found riding a bicycle while not wearing one.

> Japan to make cycle helmets compulsory for all cyclists from next April

While it is only Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, and now Cyprus and within the next two months Japan, that have compulsory helmet laws for all cyclists, regardless of age, many other countries have some form of mandatory legislation in place.

In Spain, for example, helmets are compulsory for people riding bikes outside urban areas, while many countries have age-specific laws that require children below a certain age to wear a helmet when they are on a bicycle.

In the United States, helmet laws vary by jurisdiction and age, with some states making them mandatory for all riders, others for children only, while some states have no such legislation at all.

Within the UK, transport minister Jesse Norman confirmed in November that the government has no plans to make cycle helmets compulsory here.

Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP for The Wrekin, had raised the issue in a written question, asking whether the Secretary of State for Transport would “hold discussions with road safety and cycle representative groups on making it a legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets on public roads?”

> Government shuts down mandatory cycling helmets question from Conservative MP

He asked whether the Secretary of State for Transport would “hold discussions with road safety and cycle representative groups on making it a legal requirement for cyclists to wear helmets on public roads?

In response, Norman said that the subject had been considered “at length” but rejected as part of the government’s cycling and walking safety review in 2018.

“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,” he said.

“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 minister added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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