At a gala dinner organised by BHIT in October 2002, BHIT patron David Coulthard, the Formula One driver, said in a speech that he agreed with BHIT’s eventual aim to make everyone wear helmets, including adults.
However, BHIT’s director and founder Angela Lee told BikeBiz.com her first goal was to get a mandatory helmet law for under 12s first. It would be a multi-phase campaign, with 12-16 year olds next and, later, perhaps adults.
Who was she targetting?
"Department of Transport. It’s a votes thing. They’re wimps. Everyone else has brought this law in. Australia, America," said Lee.
However, earlier this year BHIT hooked up with Eric Martlew MP to launch a helmet compulsion private members’ bill that would make it a £200 fineable offence for an adult to allow a child under the age of 16 to cycle without a helmet. This would mean parents, teachers, newsagents and bike shop owners could be criminalised for not forcing 15 year olds – the age group most likely not to wear helmets – to wear helmets.
As owner of a bike shop too, Giles Wolfe is worried about the change in BHIT’s tactics.
"I don’t want to be clobbered with £200 fines," said Wolfe.
"I support BHIT’s aims but cannot offer [the Martlew bill] my 100 percent support. I always thought the aim was for compulsion for under-twelves first. I can’t say I totally support a bill that increases the age to 16. That will lead to an unworkable law. That wasn’t my understanding of Angela’s plans, like everybody else I thought there was a three-stage plan, under-twelves, under-14s and then under-18s some years down the line. Going straight for under-16s is a little too ambitious."