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