Peer raises subject of cycle helmet compulsion in parliament

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth told House of Lords that "compulsory wearing of helmets" will "reduce accidents."
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New peer Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth says it "time for compulsory helmets for cyclists." The Tory peer entered the House of Lords in September last year. He is a non-practising barrister and an author of legal textbooks. Earlier today he told his fellow peers that "deaths on the roads are avoidable" and that "there are many things that we can do to lessen the gravity of accidents and to reduce fatalities." He said "cycle lanes provide some assistance, as do lower speed limits," but that the best solution would be for cyclists to wear helmets.

"Too often the debate on road safety has been about whether motorists or heavy goods vehicle drivers or cyclists are responsible for injuries and accidents," he said in a briefing.

What his briefind didn't mention was that cycle helmets are designed only for slow-speed crashes from one metre and offer little or no protection during collisions involving cyclists and motor vehicles.

His briefing continues: "Part of the solution, of course, is the matter of education. Cyclists can go on a bikeability course. This used to be the cyclist proficiency test. Other road users need to be aware of cyclists too.

"Cyclists' safety is a particular problem in our cities and above all in London. Cycle lanes provide some assistance, as do lower speed limits."

He also raised the issue of banning HGVs in city centres, but it wasn't his central concern.

"It is likely that banning heavy goods vehicles from certain routes in our cities at peak times would also help as it has in Paris."

"Experience in other countries of the compulsory wearing of helmets clearly indicates that the severity of injuries from accidents and a reduction of fatalities results from the compulsory wearing of helmets."

Lord Bourne also wants headphone use by cyclists banned. He made no mention whether he'd also like to ban deaf cyclists or ban motorists from using in-car sound systems.

"There is much evidence too to suggest that the wearing of headphones by cyclists disrupts concentration and prevents cyclists from hearing vehicles or shouted warnings from others," said Lord Bourne.

"This is something that should be looked at too. Quite possibly the wearing of headphones by cyclists should be banned in the cause of road safety."

He concluded: "Now is the time to look seriously about how we can have concerted action on road safety education, sensible road etiquette and, I believe, compulsory wearing of helmets to reduce accidents."

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