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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Northern Ireland Cycling Ban

Or as you may have heard it reported, Northern Ireland compulsory helmet law proposal. Referring to it as a cycling ban may seem a bit melodramatic, but all you need to do is look to other countries where similar laws have been enacted. All of them suffered a massive drop in the rates of cycling as people chose other modes of transport where their freedom was less impinged accompanied by no change in head injury rates.

Cycling rates in Northern Ireland will drop if the law is enacted, and those who used to cycle will move to other forms of transport, mainly the car. More cars will degrade the living standards for everyone in Northern Ireland, through pollution, congestion and increased risk of injury on the roads.

Many of you may think, “That’s Northern Ireland, it doesn’t affect me here in England/Scotland/Wales.” Sadly however, it does affect everyone in the UK. Most simply put, if you want to visit Northern Ireland or are sent there for work, you can not longer cycle there without wearing a plastic hat. All of the wider benefits to society which come from increasing cycling rates work in reverse when you actively decrease cycling rates. For example, the healthcare costs will increase in Northern Ireland, both through sedentary health conditions due to the reduction in cycling, and increases in road casualties and air pollution illnesses. Everyone in the UK pays towards that.

The cycling ban is a terrifying step backwards for the revival of the bicycle as transport in the UK, placing responsibility for road safety squarely on the shoulders of the victims whilst cheerfully ignoring the root cause. It is an assault on the freedom of the people of Northern Ireland (and Great Britain too)  and the embodiment of everything which is wrong with policymaking in the UK as a whole.


  1. Uber-fail. Backwards is not the new progressive.
    All this can be seen as is hollow legislation for vote-winning or attempted conscience clearance.
    It pisses off the current small minority who do cycle, but appears like they are saving us all to the indifferent masses who wont take a moment to think about it.
    How can they honestly enforce this. As someone who lives and works using bicycles in Belfast, will they really jail me for refusing to pay fines? I hope it never sees the light of day.

    I appreciate your supportive opinion on the matter!

  2. @Craig

    Most of the stuff I have read about the cycling ban has come from the rest of the UK, I'm glad someone who actually lives in NI found this article. Apparently the proposal was put through based on the responses of around 20 people questioned about road safety etc. Maybe with the same amount of people on your side you could undo the damage.

    Another option would be to go helmetless until ticketed and then take it to court.

  3. The bill isn't passed yet, is it? (Still has to go through a committee stage, was what I heard). Hopefully it will run up against facts and be derailled there. Worrying though.

  4. Worrying though.

    Very. It's close to home :>/

    P.S: Mr.C - nice new banner :>)


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