Cycle helmets for children 'a must', says Alok Sharma MP

Alok Sharma MP during Prime Minister's Questions
Image caption Mr Sharma says the safety benefits of wearing cycle helmets are clear

A Conservative MP wants cycle helmets to be made compulsory for children.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma called a debate at Westminster Hall earlier in which he said the safety benefits of helmets were clear.

Roads safety minister Stephen Hammond agreed with promoting their use but stopped short of supporting a change in the law.

Mr Sharma wants the Department for Transport (DfT) to commission an independent report into the benefits.

He said: "As a parent with young daughters, this issue means a lot to me and you feel a certain responsibility for their safety.

"I met recently with the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust in Reading and it was their work which spurred me on."

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins sparked a debate on the issue earlier this year when he suggested cycle helmets should be made compulsory for all ages.

The 32-year-old was injured after he was involved in an accident earlier this month while out training near his Lancashire home.

'Softly softly approach'

Mr Sharma admitted policing a law change could be difficult, but believes a patient approach will see benefits.

He added: "It's proven beyond doubt that wearing a helmet saves lives, but I'm not proposing some Draconian law change here.

"For most people, if there's a change in the law and it makes practical sense, they will abide by it.

"A 'softly softly' approach would help install the right mentality among children from a young age to the point where it eventually becomes the norm."

Mr Hammond told MPs he was keen to improve road safety for cyclists and said DfT research demonstrated cycle helmets did have clear safety benefits and their use should be encouraged.

The minister said: "We do accept this is a matter of promotion rather than compulsion.

"I agree anything outside of legislation which can promote wearing of cycle helmets, I will do."

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