‘We want to encourage the freedom of cycling, not discourage cyclists by forcing them to wear helmets’
MP Norman Baker, a junior transport minister, has defending not wearing a helmet while he cycles.
The minister, with responsibility for walking, cycling and public transport, stirred up the helmet debate at the end of last week when he said it was his ‘libertarian right’ not to wear a cycle helmet while cycling, despite his Governmental role.
Under questioning Minister Baker said: “There are a couple of points here. First of all it is British Government policy to encourage children in particular to wear cycle helmets… We also think adults are capable of making up their own minds as to whether they should wear a helmet on or not.”
“There is an issue of whether or not cars give a wider berth to cyclists with or without helmets, but there’s also the point that whether making people wear helmets will actually discourage them from cycling. There are enormous benefits in getting people cycling in terms of health, in terms of tackling obesity, in terms of dealing with air pollution and environmental problems and I don’t want to put obstacles in the way of people cycling. I think we should encourage the freedom of cycling, rather than place restrictions on it.”
The Minister maintained that forcing cyclists to wear helmets could be a ‘net loss’ putting off many would-be cyclists. “I’m the minister for cycling, I’m not the safety minister. I want to encourage people to cycle and stress the benefits and freedom it brings.”
If only Australian pollies could be equally enlightened!