A Fianna Fail TD for Limerick, Niall Collins, is the latest parliamentarian to ask about the promotion of bicycle helmets.
While Deputy Collins’ request did not include compulsion, according to parliamentary records, a larger amount of Fianna Fail TDs and Senators have focused on mandtory clothing for cycling and walking in recent years compared to our report in 2015 covering how much compulsory bicycle helmets were raised by TDs and Senator over 15 years.
This year we have reported how the Fianna Fail transport spokesman, Robert Troy, has been pursuing the issue (he later clarified that: “Everybody, including pedestrians and cyclists, should wear high visibility vests”), last year the party’s senate spokesperson on justice Denis O’Donovan looked for mandatory high-vis for walking and cycling, and, in 2015, Niamh Smyth, a Fianna Fail TD for Cavan-Monaghan, also requested mandatory high-vis for walking and cycling.
According to records published on kildarestreet.com, Collins asked: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to outline the options available to him to encourage all cyclists to wear helmets when cycling; if his attention has been drawn to concerns on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
In a written reply published on May 23, Minister for transport Shane Ross said: “It is long-standing Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of helmets by cyclists. Both my Department and the Road Safety Authority – which has responsibility for information and awareness campaigns – encourage their use. Opinion is divided internationally on whether the wearing of helmets is best pursued through statutory requirements or through other strategies, for example through publicity and educational campaigns.”
“Making helmets compulsory would raise a number of difficulties. In particular it would be necessary to have an enforcement system, with penalties for cycling without a helmet. The matter was considered during the preparation of the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. Although the Strategy strongly favours encouraging the use of helmets, it did not recommend making their wearing compulsory, and I have no plans at present to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets a legal requirement,” said Minister Ross.
He added: “Encouraging the wearing of cycle helmets in Ireland is achieved by promotional, educational and publicity campaigns rather than by a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle.”