The helmet wars look set to open up on another front, with the BMA making a surprising policy U-turn on the subject of cycle helmets. Since 1999 the doctors’ organisation has argued that the health benefits of cycling outweigh all of the (comparatively low) risks and that therefore anything that may put people off cycling is a bad thing. But now, while still maintaining the benefits-outweigh-risks line, it’s decided that it would “support the introduction of legislation making the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory for both children and adults”.
It’s only a couple of months since the BMA was opposing MP Eric Martlew’s Private Member’s Bill to introduce helmet legislation making it compulsory for under-16s to wear helmets, and now here it is going even further in the opposite direction by supporting helmet laws for adults too.
The change of policy can be found in a document that forms part of the BMA’s contribution to the government’s Public Health White Paper, due out shortly.
UK trade publication BikeBiz has, as ever, been quick off the mark when it comes to mobilising a campaign against any moves towards helmet compulsion. Editor Carlton Reid (and his family) wears helmets for cycling but is a staunch anti-compulsionist. There’s an on-line petition running at http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/bma-petition.php in an effort to get the BMA to change its mind. Again.