Bicycle Helmet Laws in the UK

Written by jamesm
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Bicycle Helmet Laws in the UK
Cycle helmets are designed to protect the head from injury. (Radfahrer image by Klaus Eppele from

Cycling is a hobby and means of transportation enjoyed by many. And, with the UK government encouraging people to use greener methods of transport, cycling is growing in popularity as more people take to the road on two wheels instead of four.

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UK Cycle Helmet Law

A bicycle helmet is designed to protect the skull and brain of the cyclist should she have an accident or fall off the bike and hit her head. As of July 2010, there is no law in the UK which makes bicycle helmets mandatory.

Rule 45 of the Highway Code recommends cyclists wear helmets. It states: "You should wear a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations". The Highway Code also makes a very strong recommendation that children should wear a helmet when cycling, though again there is no law requiring that they do so.

Law in the UK

So although there is no current legislation in place that mandates all cyclists wear a helmet, the British government clearly regards it as an important piece of safety equipment. There is also strong support within Parliament and other organisations for the introduction of such legislation.

The Support

In 2005, the British Medical Association made recommendations for the UK government to introduce legislation to make the wearing of helmets mandatory for all cyclists. Although this recommendation did not result in any legislation being passed, there still remains strong support for making the wearing of helmets mandatory.

There are several arguments for and against bike helmets. The arguments for include the obvious safety aspect, which suggest a cycle helmet minimises the effect of any direct trauma to the head from a fall.

The Highway Code recommends that cyclists wear helmets.
The Highway Code recommends that cyclists wear helmets. (bicile image by Lovrencg from

The Opposition

The UK's largest cycling organisation, the CTC, feels the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks and have noted a downward trend in cycle use when helmet legislation is introduced in other countries. They state on their web site: "CTC thinks that it should be up to you to decide whether you want to wear a helmet or not, and is opposed to making it compulsory." Arguments against bike helmets include the negative impact on peripheral vision caused by the helmet.

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