‘Mandatory helmet laws would be welcome in Ireland’

Ex-IMO president calls for new legislation in Republic of Ireland
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Calls for Ireland to pave the way for mandatory bicycle helmet wearing laws have been voiced following events in Northern Ireland last week, as reported in the Irish Medical Times.

On Monday January 31st Northern Ireland Assembly members voted in favour of a bill to make helmets compulsory for cyclists. While not yet law, mandatory helmet wearing became a step closer with the vote.

Former Irish Medical Organisation president Dr Fenton Howell said the Republic of Ireland should follow Northern Ireland’s lead and look to making helmet wearing law for riders.

Speaking to the Irish Medical Times Dr Howell said: “Best evidence supports the use of bicycle helmets for the prevention of acquired brain injuries, similar to motorcyclists. They reduce the risk and severity of head injuries.”

The British Medical Association’s Council in Northern Ireland supports the measure: “The consequences of traumatic brain injury are significant, not only to the individual involved, but to their families and society as a whole.”

Mandatory helmets for cyclists is a controversial topic, with many – including Sustrans and the CTC – fearing that forcing riders to use helmets will be to the detriment of cyclist numbers.

Last year Jersey made it compulsory for every cyclist under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Arthur Lamy, a former bike retailer on the island, was among the critics of the move.

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