Call for helmet law in Jersey causes anger among cyclists

photo In countries with a well-developed cycling culture such as Holland helmet-wearing is very rare


The decision by the Jersey legislature asking for a law forcing under-18s to wear cycle helmets has been condemned by campaigners.

A move to extend the compulsory helmet law to adults on the island was lost by a single vote.

CTC member and Jersey (parliamentary) Deputy Daniel Wimberley said, "The debate ran on emotion, and ignored the evidence more or less completely.

"The idea of looking at this controversial law and its likely side-effects was sidelined in favour of the quick fix school of politics."

State Deputy Andrew Green promoted the helmet legislation after his son Christopher suffered a serious head injury at the age of nine, when he fell from his bike.

Wimberley said, "There are fewer and fewer child cyclists in Jersey each year. If this helmet law for children eventually comes in, it will make this disastrous trend even worse."

Government officials now have to prepare the legislation before a final decision can be taken.

LCC opposes compulsory helmet laws on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence for their efficacy, and that they reduce the number of people cycling

Comments

Regarding cycling helmets v motorcycle helmets, the LCC pointing out the difference in the speed between motorcylces and bicycles, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle on the road at even 2mph so explain that one as well as the fact that the road surface is not any softer on a persons head because they are a cyclist.
Paul Fitzpatrick

@Paul Fitzpatrick Motorcycles are not ridden at 2mph, so it's not clear how to respond to your first comment. Second, the forces acting on a head are very different at 10mph and 60mph: no the ground isn't softer, but the amount of energy that must be dissipated in an impact increases by the square the increase in speed. So if you double the speed, you quadruple the energy in the impact - this is bad news if you're in a fast-moving vehicle, but good news if you're on a slow-moving bicycle.

Why is it the law that motor cyclists have to wear helmets and not cyclists?
Adrian Scott

@Adrian Scott The difference in law reflects the different level of risk associated with each mode of transport. Motorcyclists routinely drive much faster than cyclists, 30-40mph in a built-up area is not unusual, and 60mph+ on A-roads and motorways. Typically, cyclists ride at 10-15mph. Motorcycle helmets are, accordingly, constructed very differently from cycle helmets: the former are designed to minimise the effects of higher-speed impacts, being much heavier and more robust; whereas most cycle helmets (in accordance with European standards) are only effective up to 12mph. Because the evidence is so sketchy as to their efficacy, there's a good deal of debate as to whether cycle helmets make any difference in the event of a collision; there simply isn't this kind of debate among motorcyclists. That's why the laws are different.

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