A new draft law includes a provision to make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets within city limits, a proposal that has met with disapproval from cycling associations and all of the political parties in the city of Barcelona.
This provision and a proposal to raise the speed limit from 120 kph to 130 kph have prevented the swift passage of the new law.
Around three million people use a bicycle on an almost daily basis in Spain, with 15.5 million using one periodically. In 2011, 49 cyclists were killed, 12 of those occurring in cities and 37 outside city limits.
In 2011, 589 cyclists were seriously injured, 285 in cities and 304 outside city limits, with head injuries the cause of 20 percent of the injuries and deaths among cyclists who were involved in accidents.
Arguments against the compulsory use of helmets include a study carried out in New Zealand which showed that bicycle use fell by 30% after helmets were made compulsory, the fact that helmets are not required by law in the rest of Europe, obligatory use of helmets would send a message to the public that bicycles are inherently dangerous and that helmets can be uncomfortable and not very attractive.
It has also been pointed out that 300 people a year drown in the sea, yet life jackets are not compulsory.
So, with more injuries and deaths on bicycles occurring outside city limits, why is the legislation concentrating on ‘within city limits’? Ability to police the situation? Some sort of revenue implication?
Just because the rest of Europe does not do something doesn’t make it wrong.Someone has to be proactive at some stage.
As for helmets not being attractive..true, they often make people look like aliens but that could easily change. Manufacturers would be forced to make something a bit more appealing.
On the other hand, as has been seen by countless legislative measures aimed at motorists, fatalities continue to occur and are unlikely to be eradicated until motor vehicles are banned completely.