/ Motoring

Should cyclists be legally required to wear helmets?

In the latest Which? magazine, we produced a full test lab report on adult and children’s bike helmets. While we recommend wearing a good quality helmet, there’s never been a law to make it mandatory. Until now…

A new EU report has proposed cycle helmets should be made mandatory for children up to the age of 13, as well as adding cycle safety training to the curriculum for all seven and eight year olds.

Reports from the Irish Independent newspaper also suggest that parents who allow their children to ride a bike without a helmet will face charges under new rules proposed by the Road Safety Authority. These rules could come into force in Ireland by 2016 if the government approves them.

But Ireland won’t be the first to impose a bike helmet law; bicycle helmets have already been made mandatory in 13 European countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

Cycle safety sanctions

There have been plenty of reports to support the use of cycle helmets spanning the last two decades. But an international review of the evidence gathered by the UK Department for Transport in 2009 concluded there was no reliable evidence that helmets resulted in a lower risk of head injury for cyclists.

While not mandatory, we think bike helmets are worth wearing when in the saddle – if you buy a good one. However, our testing found a few helmets that seriously underperformed.

For example, we awarded the Met Camaleonte Executive adult bike helmet our Don’t Buy status, having failed to meet the European Standard in our tests. We’ve even asked Met to recall the helmet. But do you think it’s better to wear a low-quality helmet than to not wear one at all?

But helmets aren’t ’cool’!

These new laws raise the question – can parents really be held responsible for the actions of their children to this degree?

For children heading to secondary school aged 11 and up, the potential for rebellion is greater (if my memory serves me correctly). I suspect the reality is that many kids will cycle round the corner, whip the helmet off and continue on their way.

And is it reasonable to have an age limit on wearing a bike helmet? Should it not be universally applicable? I’m also intrigued to discover how big the fines will be for parents of children who don’t wear helmets, and exactly who will be enforcing these laws.

In some countries, it’s illegal not to wear a helmet when cycling – but would you welcome these laws in the UK?

Should cyclists be legally required to wear helmets?

No - cyclists shouldn't be legally required to wear helmets (58%, 780 Votes)

Yes - all cyclists should be legally required to wear helmets (32%, 431 Votes)

Yes - but only under 13s should be legally required to wear helmets (6%, 77 Votes)

I'm not sure - I'm not convinced either way (5%, 68 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,359

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I have been riding a bicycle through the UK the EU and the Middle East during the past 55 years.in total over 100,000 miles.
In 1979 I led a group of cyclists to the Cyclists Touring Club HQ at Godalming in Surrey. With that group there were two American Cyclists both wearing Bell Helmets. The helmets looked trendy and smart. I managed to secure one from America and wore it every day to work.
The ridicule I got from other cyclists at the office was horrendous. Within one week the helmet was smashed by certain individuals.
Realising it was a bit before time to wear such things I carried on without a helmet.
In the 1990’s helmets became popular, those who ridiculed me some 15 years previous were all wearing smart trendy helmets.
In the late 90’s I was riding 30 miles to work each day and 30 miles back home in all weathers and wearing a helmet at all times.
I am now in my 70’s still wearing a helmet, still riding 30 miles a day.
Legalise helmets, I don’t think so. I see children cycling home from school, their parents have obviously bought them helmets and are they wearing them? Of course not, they are dangling from the handlebars.
Legislation – who will enforce it? There isn’t enough ‘Old Bill’ on the street to enforce it let alone mobile phone drivers.
It really is up to the individual, if you think it is going to help you, wear one.
I still wear mine.