26 June, 2023
Mark Pawsey, a Tory MP for Rugby and Bulkington has recently introduced the Road Safety (Cycle Helmets) Bill 2022-23 in the House of Commons, which will require a person riding a bicycle on the public highway to wear a safety helmet.
Pawsey talked of his constituent Oliver Dibsdale, who at aged 15 fell off his bike leaving him with a serious brain injury. Oliver's doctor told him that if he was wearing a helmet, any injury he would've sustained would have been far less severe. Pawsey wrote to and subsequently met with the then minister for transport at the time. Pawsey and Dibsdale were told that it was not the government's intention to legislate the wearing of helmets and that it should be a personal choice. The Department for Transport cited the work carried out as part of the cycling and walking investment strategy of 2017 and subsequent consultation in 2018 which focuses on increasing the levels of cycling and walking and on making the roads safer for vulnerable users, including cyclists and the clear advice set out in rule 59 of the highway code, being that cyclists should wear helmets.
A 2016 review and analysis of previous research undertaken by Jake Olivier and Prudence Creighton drew on data from 64,000 cyclists and estimated an 85% and 88% reductions in head and brain injury respectively for helmeted cyclists relative to unhelmeted. The House of Commons Library also notes that pedal cyclists are 23 times more likely to be a casualty and more likely to die on the road than a motorist. It is therefore Pawsey's argument that if mandatory safety measures such as wearing seatbelts and wearing helmets on a motorcycle are acceptable for car drivers, then they should also be acceptable for cyclists.
The debate surrounding the compulsory wearing of helmets has been around for some time, with it previously being considered in Parliament in 2007 by the Bicycles (Children's Safety Helmets) Bill and in 2012 as part of a broader debate on cycling safety.
The second reading of the bill has been scheduled for Friday 24 November 2023.
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