In 2010, a politician in Northen Ireland attempted to introduce a bicycle helmet law, after being lobbied by Headway. Headway presented a one-sided view, ignoring that helmets increases the risk of accidents. This politician claimed in parliament that helmet laws introduced in other countries have been a success, even though the evidence indicates the opposite.
The debate was quite fierce, with emotional arguments from helmet fanatics being rebutted by rational arguments considering the consequences of imposing a helmet law.
Helmet fanatics assumed that helmets are the solution to cycling safety, without considering the associated increase the risk of accident. They are unaware that helmets are useless in major accidents, assuming that everything labelled a “helmet” must provide decent protection. Such ignorance fuels support for helmet laws.
The politician supporting this bill does not even ride a bike. How convenient to enact a law that only affect others! He knows what’s better for others despite having no practical experience.
A campaign has been set up to fight the proposal. They have gathered much relevant information.
In the end, the main political parties woke up to the negative side-effects of this proposal and the law was not enacted.
It was close though. Never underestimate the power of the emotional arguments put forward by misguided but well intentioned helmet fanatics. They appear sincere and well-meaning. Their emotional arguments appeal to the uninformed, particularly the non-cyclists. The negative consequences of imposing helmets are ignored.
This is one of many attempts to introduce bicycle helmet laws. These attempts usually fizzle out once more informed opinions are brought to the limelight. As more people realise that the negative side-effects outweigh the potential benefits, support for the proposed law dwindles.