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Danes want to make bicycle helmets the law

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Danes want to make bicycle helmets the law
Photo: Iris/Scanpix
09:04 CEST+02:00
Most Danes want it to be illegal to cycle without wearing a helmet, says a new survey.

The survey, carried out by Analyse Danmark on behalf of news website Avisen.dk, found that only 28 percent of Danes thought that wearing a cycling helmet should be not enforced by law.

Of the 1,040 people asked, 49 percent said that head protection should be mandatory for everyone. Ten percent said that laws should apply to children under 18 years old, ten percent would apply it to children under 15 and three percent to children under 8.

“We got used to putting seatbelts on when we get into cars a long time ago, and with a bit of practice putting a helmet on can become a natural part of the routine for cyclists,” traffic researcher Harry Lahrmann of Aalborg University told Avisen.dk.

But the public’s broad support for the protective headgear is matched by neither the Danish Cyclists’ Federation (Cyklistforbundet), the Safe Traffic Council (Rådet for Sikker Trafik) nor the government.

“We certainly recommend the use of cycle helmets. But we don’t think it makes sense to make it enforceable by law to wear them. Our experience tells us that campaigns work very well. We have found that more and more Danes are using helmets, and almost all school-age children are using them,” Klaus Bondam, director of Cyklistforbundet, told Avisen.dk.

Bondam said that the introduction of rules on wearing helmets could lead to a drop in bicycle use, as well as being a drain on police resources.

The Safe Traffic Council said that while children are good at using cycle helmets, teenagers were less likely to, developing habits that continue into adult age.

But a law requiring cycle helmets to be worn would be an invasion of citizens’ free choice, says the agency.

“We do not advocate forcing Danes to wear cycle helmets by law and fear that it would make them stop cycling. We depend greatly on campaigns, and by using our communication resources we can make a big difference,” Mogens Kjærgaard Møller of the Safe Traffic Council told Avisen.dk.

The broad support for the potential law amongst Danes themselves, while making in impression, did not change the organisation’s position, said Møller.

Traffic spokesperson Villum Christensen of the Liberal Alliance party told Avisen.dk that the government was also not considering any change to the law in the area.

“Citizens should have free choice as to whether or not they want to use cycle helmets. We do not support making a new law every time there is a problem,” said Christensen.

Lahrmann said that issuing fines for not wearing helmets would not necessarily waste police time.

“Of course it would mean that police would have to go out and make spot checks and run campaigns now and then, but they already do that with speed limits and the like. So those arguments don’t stand up,” said Lahrmann.

68 percent of those who responded to the survey said that they would not change their cycle helmet habits should laws be introduced making them mandatory.

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